Swimming And Synchronizing

There were a number of interesting things to come out of last week’s CES. Curved TV’s, self-driving cars, and stun-guns built into your phone case are a few of the more notable ones and there’s been quite a bit of press on many others.

English: New company logo.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of those interesting things, however, don’t offer up opportunities for new businesses. One thing does in my mind, however, and that is the data coming out of a study conducted jointly by the folks that run CES – the Consumer electronics Association – and the National Association of Television Program Executives.  They conducted a study of consumers last October about how those consumers were using second screens to engage with video content.  What they found is the sound of opportunity knocking:

Of the Second Screen users surveyed, 79 percent access a second device while watching TV programming. Nearly all Second Screen viewers access asynchronous program content, either right before watching a show, right after watching, or between episodes/seasons, which offers a strong opportunity for program brands to increase loyalty and keep viewers engaged and watching even when shows are not on the air.

Only 42 percent of Second Screen users have tried synchronizing their content experience to live TV. According to the survey, synchronized content available for TV programs does not generate strong positive perceptions – only 13 percent of respondents said it makes their program viewing experience “much more enjoyable.” The majority of users said synchronized content makes their viewing experience “somewhat more enjoyable,” considering it less of a necessity than a “nice to have” for certain types of programs. More than half of those who access synchronous Second Screen content do so during commercials, so there is an opportunity to provide synchronized content that can be easily and quickly accessed during commercial air time.

In other words, many of us (actually MOST of us) are using some sort of second screen device but in general we’re not using that screen to enhance our viewing experience and no one has yet cracked the code on engaging viewers across multiple screens and devices.  For example – why wouldn’t a cooking show push out the recipe being made at the moment along with definitions of terms with which viewers may be unfamiliar, places to buy hard to find ingredients (maybe at a discount – partnership opportunity!) and links to other recipes that go along with what’s being made?  I’m aware all of those things can be done through the web site, but this is more about content providers being proactive and not the viewer having to do all the work.

What I especially like about this study is that it reminds all business folks that the ubiquity of mobile devices and tablets has changed pretty much everything.  If something as familiar as watching TV has been disrupted, what’s the effect been in your business and, more importantly, how can you use that change to your advantage?  How well we sink or swim as business people depends on the answer.

We’re starting to see more of this sort of activity. There is live, in-show voting on a number of programs and a number of sports applications try to integrate themselves with what’s going on in-game.  But as the study shows synchronizing program content with second screen content  is really a large opportunity over the next few years.  Someone (or multiple businesses) is going to crack the code, write the app, and swim very well.  You?

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