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Aug 21

Social TV is Now: How Second Screen Apps Connect Viewers to Their Favorite Shows.


In: Strategy Insights

The below is a guest blog post from one of our interns, Tony Maciolowski. If you’d like to inquire about an internship opportunity with Union (formerly Studiobanks), let us know. Enter Tony.

Chances are that while you’re camped out on your couch watching the latest episode of that must-see show (Mad Men anyone?), you’re also twiddling away on your smartphone. Whether you’re updating your Facebook status or asking Google who the actor is that plays Don Draper, you’re probably not alone.

Researchers have noticed a tremendous spike in the number of viewers glued to their electronic devices during peak broadcast times. A study by Nielson found that 68% of tablet users and 63% of smartphone users reported engagement with their “second screen” several times a week while watching TV. Not only does this mean viewers are engaging with two screens at once, but they are also using the social media applications on their phones and tablets to talk about what they are viewing on TV as it happens. If properly tapped, this could be a goldmine for marketers and advertisers alike. So what is the best way to capitalize on this opportunity?

Second Screen Apps

Applications have surfaced in recent months—‘second screen apps’ as they’re commonly called—to bridge the gap between television and mobile devices. It’s the latest effort to shift viewers’ attention back to the program being aired and engage with them about its subject matter. This rapidly growing trend has caught the attention of major broadcasters as well. CBS recently teamed up with Skype to launch CBS Connect, a central hub that allows fans to chat about their favorite TV shows in real-time across various social media platforms. Users are encouraged to join in on the conversations and can even connect with the stars from their favorite shows by RSVP’ing to live chat sessions.

Care to know more? Here are two more Second Screen Apps you should know about:

IntoNow, a startup that was recently (and very quickly) acquired by Yahoo!, allows a user’s device to automatically sync with the show they are watching. This happens almost effortlessly, thanks to what they call SoundPrint, their in-house developed audio recognition platform. SoundPrint is able to identify a program within 4-12 seconds based on the ambient sounds it picks up from your television, even if its airing live for the first time! Once synced, you can see what your friends are watching and get tons of information about the current episode, the series, characters, directors, you name it. And the best part? You can engage with friends and fellow fans within the application, but can also stream comments, ‘Likes’, and tweets to your favorite social media platforms seamlessly.

GetGlue is another second screen application that allows users to “check-in” to the television program they are watching. Much like its counterpart IntoNow, GetGlue provides a slew of information about the program you’re watching once you’ve checked-in. But what differentiates GetGlue from the other social TV apps is an additional incentive that breeds repeat engagement: FREE STICKERS. It may sound cheesy, but the added bonus of receiving and collecting free stickers from your favorite shows and networks has helped GetGlue attract over 3 million new users. The New York based company already has plans to push the social television concept even further with the implementation of an interactive TV guide platform they are calling GetGlue HD. The concept is simple: Once a user has checked-in to their show, the guide will deliver program suggestions and information based on their tastes and interests, as well as those of their close friends. This kind of engagement is certainly unique and full of potential. The interactive TV guide concept will be the company’s first foray into generating ad revenues and monetizing—a venture they plan on presenting to networks in the coming weeks.

As social TV continues to grow and develop, it will become an increasingly valuable asset to marketers and broadcasting networks. From an analytical standpoint, it provides yet another medium to aggregate large amounts of very specific data from a highly targeted audience. That’s some seriously potent information and could effectively reshape television as we know it. Viewers could soon become the influencers that alter how future episodes or series’ play out. From a revenue standpoint, the data could prove to be increasingly advantageous to networks as they would be capable of delivering content from their advertisers to the exact people that need to see it. They could take it even further and feed promotions and incentives for products straight to the users’ devices that expire at the end of a show or episode. Television and commercials as we once knew them might soon become a thing of the past as social TV and the second screen continue to evolve, develop, and connect.

What are your thoughts about the social TV phenomenon? Are you using any second screen apps?


UNION is a full-service digital agency. We create experiences that help brands thrive. We believe to be relevant in today’s marketplace, brands must lead with a digital-first philosophy. We craft engaging digital experiences and integrated campaigns that are built on strategy and driven by data. At the heart of what we do is help brands create meaningful and enduring relationships with highly connected consumers.

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