One of our lovely planners, Lucy attended Manchester Digital’s Emerging TV event last month and kindly shared her findings with the team over lunch. This is a particularly interesting topic for us, as we are keen to explore how interactive TV can create added value by enhancing a user’s experience.
It was great to find out more about the various types of interactive TV, whilst also getting the opportunity to have a little internal debate over what constitutes a good experience.
First of all, we should start by defining what connected TV is:
“Connected TV is the term generally used by the television industry to describe a product or service that combines ‘traditional’ broadcast digital television with new services, applications and programming such as Catch-up TV and Video on Demand (VoD) delivered via broadband. It is also known as Smart TV or Hybrid TV”. (Digital TV Group)
This is a really confusing definition for consumers; it generally means that the TV is connected to the internet in some way, whether it’s via a games console, laptop or a smart TV.
There are different classifications for second screening, so here are a few examples used in the ‘emerging TV session’:
Dual Screening: The use of other screens (laptop, mobile, tablet) whilst watching TV to do something else unrelated, usually via an app or browser i.e. the TV set is the first screen and another device is the second screen
For example: Watching the News whilst browsing Facebook on your mobile.
Synchronous activity: This is where the second screen is used to in relation to a programme. At the moment it is challenging for the TV industry to capture this information – as you’re not directly interacting with the programme.
For example: Watching Mad Men, whilst tweeting about it.
Companion activity: Something that supports the TV programme, and enhances your TV viewing experience. Sometimes these apps draw your eye away from the TV programme. The overall goal is something that actually compliments the TV viewing experience, something that triggers audience participation.
For example: Playing along online with the The Million Pound Drop , whilst watching it on TV.
The evolution of TV
There is no better place to start than at the beginning; our TV journey began back in the old days of ‘simple TV’ – can you believe we only had three to five channels? But even during these times, interactivity was part of the experience, shows such as ‘Winky Dinkys Magic screen’ – encouraged children to draw on the ‘magic’ window that sat on the television screen, engaging the audience to take part in the activity, the programme was aired between 1953 and 1957.
Other historic examples include ‘Swap Shop’– the similarities between these programmes are that the audience were at the heart of the shows, therefore the viewing experience went beyond watching TV and resulted in high levels of engagement.
Here at Code, we think that dual screening is here to stay. A challenge for the broadcasting industry is thinking of ways to maintain audience engagement in a way that complements TV programmes.
Channel4 recently promoted synchronous activity in a really engaging, effective way with their show ‘The Plane Crash’.
The reason why we considered ‘The Plane Crash’ successful was that it enhanced the viewing experience by making it personal, i.e. viewers were able to ‘check-in’ to the flight on Facebook before the show. The creation of slots in the show prompted social interaction, and subsequently boosted mentions at the right time, without distracting the audience from the programme itself.
Effectively, the show delivered entertainment and got people talking:
What does this mean to us?
The role of digital agencies could be to get involved with these exciting projects, offering creative solutions that blend technology and human interaction to add value for the viewer and complement the programme.
In some cases it could be a matter of positioning. For example, the Dispatches app adds value and meets a need by offering viewers more information. However, due to the depth of information on the app, it risks disrupting the programme. In this case, it might be better to position the app for the audience to engage with after the programme, rather than during; this could be reinforced by messaging at the end of the programme, directing viewers to the app.
Well, that summarises some of our thoughts on Interactive TV, and now we want to know what YOU think – get in touch via the comments to share your opinions.