When you hear broadcasters and vendors buzz about the promise of second-screen apps — what exactly are we talking about when it comes to local news?
Take for example TVPlus, it won the “Best New Idea” award at the Social TV Summit. The gist is based on a user a with a connected device who is watching TV. The app (iPad only for now) identifies the show you're watching via audio signals, synchs (yup, I'm watching "Sunday Night Football | Giants-Eagles") and serves up related content via scrolling snippets that include Twitter, Facebook and other content.
Technically it works great — it's impressive in fact, if not slightly creepy, that it can ID the show I'm watching consistently. But what their offering me is less than compelling. The content links to related YouTube clips, Wikipedia definitions, actor/player profiles and facts and information that is basically a duplication of an updated topical Google search.
The promise and impact of the second-screen is there — but the question is … once I get over the fact that I have an iPad (yeah) and there's an app that sees my TV (neat) — it comes back to the related content. Will it keep me coming back? Once the app's in place, who and how will you execute on the mission to make it worth visiting.
The answer's in the content.
Lost Remote reported
that 10 broadcast groups recently inked a deal with ConnecTV including Gannett, Hearst, Belo, Scripps, Cox, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek, Raycom and Barrington to build second-screen apps for their local news products and … here's the rub … "ConnecTV says it will provide synchronized content and conversation across all programming genres, live or on-demand."
Providing the app and technology is great. Providing content that will be worthy of repeat visits and a business model is a much tougher claim. Second-screen apps for local news programs will not benefit from the motivated entertainment experience that NFL Football and "Glee" enjoy. In addition, it will be promoted on-air to an older less tablet/app savvy audience.
The hope is that second-screen will pull in younger demos to engage with your news brand, but it will live or die based on the content.
ConnecTV will be challenged to provide compelling interactive local news-related content for the second screen. To be executed properly that charge must fall to the local news teams. The opportunity is for this second-screen to be part of the on-air display with content that's worthy of standing alone, accepting and responding to viewer questions live during the newscast, adding unique and unduplicated content in the app stream.
Auto-generated content from ConnectTV, even with Twitter, Facebook feeds will not be enough. This is a good start and a step in the right direction, but the plan hinges on the next step, which requires smart digital content creation and web experience management to generate audiences that will in turn generate revenue.