It is the buzzword of the year like “plastics” was in the movie “The Graduate,” or “Social Media” was last year or “3D TV” was three years ago. Now it’s all about the second screen…or the third…or the fourth. And while a study this week in the Sports Business Journal showed that usage and adaptation of a second screen during broadcasts is still small, it is growing, and brands and properties are scrambling for when to take advantage in a cost efficient and meaningful consumer engagement experience.
Now the second screen of today can be as simple as using a platform like twitter to engage fans and monitor the buzz in and around an event. The latest example took place during the NBA Finals, with NBA Partner Sprint leveraging twitter’s new TV ad targeting tool, in conjunction with the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love, to create an added experience for fans. Live tweets, video links, even Vine feeds, all tied to a Show The Love With Kevin Love Show. Fans asked questions and got reaction from Love, as well as the ability to interact with each other. Sprint sweetened the pot with some text and win and favorite following tweets to build more interest as well. Simple, clean, not huge investment and a way to see if fans would engage with Sprint, an official NBA partner and with Love in an environment away from the game.
The contest gave fans an opportunity to respond and engage in the medium of their choice, from laptop to tablet to mobile device, and was agnostic of carrier, although the goal for Sprint would be to align and then convert users down the line with special offers.
Now while that type of second screen experience is a clean and easy one, the opportunities that exist with opportunities like streaming video or advanced and enhanced analytics are also intriguing. Rights holders or teams or leagues can created enhanced experiences that complement the broadcast for fans willing to delve deeper, especially in sports where there are longer breaks like golf, football and baseball. Deeper explanations of the goings on, as well as fan reactions, all tied to video replays can make the controversial less controversial and five an insider’s view of what is going on while those in the broadcast booth tend to the action. Brands can also get bigger ROI be driving fans to the second screen for added value promotions that can get lost in a traditional action packed broadcast.
Now for those non-rights holders, the opportunity to engage in a second screen experience is also intriguing. Since one does not necessarily need rights or likenesses or even video to create an experience away from the broadcast, a team or a local host can be agnostic to broadcasters and maybe even be more edgy or true or even controversial in content. There is also the ambush possibility with a second screen partner, where a brand locked out of the rights can create an experience to drive interest and ROI, although that type of ambush would take large dollars and lots of potential ill will, to create and pull off effectively.
The other beauty of the second screen experience is its mobility…it can be done on site or a thousand miles away, depending on the level of engagement. The rights holder or the team or league could launch the experience just inches from play or in a studio getting immediate feedback, or it could be an interaction in a person’s house or living room or studio miles away. Location can be a great enhancement, nut the most important thing is the uniqueness of content and the immediacy of reaction.
As mobile reception improves in stadia the second screen will also continue to grow. Promotions in lackluster games, or better explanations with team legends or officials, will hopefully help enhance and not detract from the fan experience, and not be an impediment on watching the game live.
For sure the space is ever evolving. A good tweetup or twitter chat which was thought to be easy and engaging recently or even today may be archaic tomorrow, as better reception and economies of scale, along with wider engagement come into play. There is also the risk of too much too soon and decreased value for a rush to the second screen. Dueling personalities and lots of clamor for followers can lead to turned off consumers and lots of white noise. In the end, great content will drive the day…content that is fun, clean, smooth and long on engagement for the consumer like he or she has never had before. It will not replace the live event in stadia or on broadcast, but it should continue to enhance, and is for sure a must follow trend going forward.