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Why Broadcasters Should be Utilising Second-Screen Culture
Almost half of your audience is using a second screen while watching your shows. If you're not using Facebook Live or another second-screen experience, you're missing out on crucial fan engagement
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We all know the way we watch television is changing. Through social media, we're adapting the way we interact with our friends; We like to share content and tag people in funny or interesting news, often while we're doing other things like watching TV. As consumers, we're incredibly used to this instant interaction. We've all been guilty of bombarding the group chats whilst watching the latest episode of Love Island or a rugby game to see if anyone else is feeling the same way as us. According to a 2019 report by CivicScience, 48% of adults in the U.S. are using a second screen whilst watching their favourite shows on television. I'm sure this impressive statistic is unsurprising to many of us, as this has been gaining pace for a while. For years, people have used hashtags to search out other people's opinions and share their own. This incredible resource is being noticed by broadcasters—so why aren't they taking advantage by tapping into second screen culture to enhance their shows?

Recommendations and Social Media

Many of us can relate to scrolling through social media to see multiple people commenting on a programme we've never heard of. And I'm sure even more of us have seen the onslaught of friends tagging others on trending Game of Thrones memes or popular video teasers. Seeing our friends enjoying something is likely to influence whether we watch something or want to be included in trending content. Broadcasters see this as a huge opportunity to engage networks of people and boost viewing figures. It is important that the content they provide viewers with is valuable, otherwise they run the risk of getting lost in the general noise of social media. It's also important that the content promotes interactivity to make sure it spreads across people's feeds – the best-case scenario would see a teaser post going viral, driving people to watch the main show.

Live streaming is a popular way of providing this content. Facebook Live videos see people spend 3 times longer watching content, all whilst producing 6 times as many interactions as a normal video post on the platform. We recently worked on a project for the BBC show, Poldark, in which we hosted a live Q&A session through Facebook in the lead up to the show's finale to drive engagement and viewing figures. The Q&A allowed fans to ask actors and the writer questions in the run up to the final episode. Of course, this served as a "thank you" to the loyal fans, but it also raised the show's profile. Looking at the popularity of historic shows like Downton Abbey, we can see that a show reaching its final season does not keep it from dropping in popularity.

Live Broadcast, Live Streaming?

That's not to say that broadcasters are limited to only using the second screen when their shows aren't on. Although it may seem daunting to try and take your viewers' attention away from the big screen, there are many instances when that can actually be beneficial. Given that the demand for interactivity and live feedback is driving viewers' attention away to the second screen, it makes sense for video providers to tap into that. It can be as simple as providing a live commentary on your show's official Twitter account. Alternatively, it can be as sophisticated as providing an entirely separate live broadcast on social media to enhance what's happening on the show. Not only does this keep your fans engaged but once again raises hype around your show—innovative tech can draw new viewers into a show they wouldn't have been aware of had they not seen their friends getting involved. 

A great example of this is when we worked with Coronation Street to develop an interactive stream on their social media platforms to enrich their live episode from the cobbles. The live stream provided viewers with an experience from behind the scenes, allowing them to interact with the production team. Fans were given a chance to interact directly with the actors by asking the team questions which were then moderated and fed to the team. Although it was a highly complex production, we provided tools which streamlined the process and built redundancies within the workflow to prevent any mishaps. The stream was hugely successful; the average viewing time was 26 minutes and was the highest ever non-boosted Facebook live stream in Europe at the time.

Changing the Way We Watch

It's undeniable that many of us are turning to our second screens before and during our favourite programmes. Ignoring this trend is counterproductive for broadcasters. Fans love engagement and interactivity and are likely to be interacting with posts associated with the show they're watching live, so providing them with content that enriches the on-screen content can potentially keep and enhance their attention on your broadcast. Additionally, the most forward-thinking broadcasters are adapting their broadcasts to incorporate and boost this second screen interaction, seeing it as an opportunity to deliver fluid and dynamic content. This new cultural trend is an opportunity, not a threat, and broadcasters need to be embracing innovation to deliver inventive and high-quality content to their fans. 

[This is a vendor-contributed article from Groovy Gecko. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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