Connecting the screens
The broadcaster’s goal is to tie together the first- and second-screen experience, and thus maintain (or regain) control of the viewer’s attention and social buzz. In doing so, broadcasters can enrich the viewing experience and retain advertising revenue.
The most compelling second-screen experiences are those that are tightly synchronized with content. New tools and workflows are needed to accomplish this, especially in live television production. Graphics production tools and workflows serve as a great solution by which to provide this synchronized experience, as they enable broadcasters to link the first screen to the second and back again. Today, pioneers are exploring different ways to do this, and they are finding a lot of success.
First-screen graphics can drive multitasking viewers to the preferred second-screen platform through a “call to action.” First-screen graphics can also display second-screen activity such as tweets, polling data and even video chat comments to further engage viewers. Second-screen graphics must be just as rich and informative as graphics the viewer is accustomed to seeing on-air. Today, the creation of these graphics can be prohibitively difficult and time-consuming in live production, and it is only being done for the most popular shows. But, new tools are being developed to address this market need and make live second-screen production achievable on a budget.
If the graphics production platform features a few key tools and components, broadcasters can quickly and easily create social and second-screen viewer campaigns on demand, with accompanying graphics. Models exist for integrating social data into news production, as well as for sports and other live productions. (See Figure 1.) A central gateway serves as the interface through which viewer comments (e.g., SMS, Twitter and Facebook) and viewer campaign data (e.g., voting data) are funneled into the newsroom system. Producers working within the newsroom system (NRCS) can use a graphics plug-in interface to create social campaigns and accompanying call-to-action/result graphics, which then can be dragged into the script and fed to the on-air graphics playout system for delivery to air.
This provides broadcasters many opportunities for branded on-screen graphics that tie the first screen to the second and the viewer to both screens. A call-to-action graphic is one that encourages viewers to tweet, send a text message or download an app for even greater interactivity. “Poll results” graphics show viewer preferences in a variety of creative data visualization methods that are a great opportunity to develop a unique look for a program. Figure 2 shows a graphic called the Tweetometer. The meter swings one way and the other based on relative tweets per minute (TPM) of two topics selected by the producer. This is a simple and memorable way to encourage viewer participation.
What types of elements can users create from within today’s graphics production platforms? Using call-to-action and results graphics templates, stories can be enhanced with the addition of viewer campaigns, such as viewer polls, quizzes, features such as “Most Valuable Player of the match” and games. Tweets are brought to air using a lower third or crawl, and viewer participation is facilitated by showing various types of poll results. Templates can provide social info-graphics, such as a visual representation of the number of tweets about different topics, or the number of tweets by different celebrities. With this sophisticated social data, users can show off a program’s social trending and analytics.
To encourage this engagement with content on the first screen, broadcasters can call out to viewers through rich, 3-D, on-screen graphics, as well as through social networks. Depending on the broadcaster’s preference, viewers may participate in these campaigns via SMS, Twitter, Facebook or through a second-screen app such as ConnecTV.
Websites and companion apps on smartphones and tablets are a great opportunity to extend the show’s brand to a new medium. As stated earlier, though, these second-screen graphics need to be just as rich and informative as the viewer is accustomed to seeing on air. Creating them for live television can require an expensive parallel workflow, but if it is done right, this process can be undertaken directly from the existing graphics production tools using the same skills and workflows.