Interactivity across the broadcast spectrum is the new name of the game as broadcasters seek to expand — or, perhaps more accurately, keep — viewers who spend increasingly more time on their connected devices. As laptops, smartphones and tablets become more ubiquitous in the market, viewers are using them not only to facilitate on-the-go lifestyles, but also to engage with social media, as well as other online forms of media and entertainment.
A 2011 Nielsen survey showed that 45 percent of U.S. tablet owners and 41 percent of smartphone owners used devices while watching TV on a daily basis. In sports, the numbers were higher, with an estimated 70 percent of tablet owners watching TV while consulting their Web-connected device. A 2011 Ericsson report found that more than 40 percent of people use social media while watching TV on a weekly basis, and almost one in three chat online. In-depth interviews showed that families combined TV viewing with the use of Twitter, Facebook, texting, voice calls and forum discussions about what they watched.
The silver lining is the new technology that enables broadcasters to take advantage, rather than risk the effects, of social media engagement — providing viewers with more reasons to engage with the content they’re consuming. New second-screen systems provide viewers with access to original content not seen anywhere else, using otherwise wasted content that often sits on servers. Together, this premium content and increased viewer engagement provides new revenue opportunities.
New, customized content
Technology used by broadcasters and content owners to work alongside, rather than opposed to, forces that threaten to pull away viewers is surprisingly easy. Designed as a suite that can be added on to live multicamera production infrastructure, the technology enables broadcasters and rights owners to output original content — archives, highlights or third-party content — to multiple screens.
New infrastructure isn’t needed. The technology is integrated into a seamless file-based workflow either at a broadcast center or on-site production venue. (See Figure 1.) With this capability, broadcasters can provide more ways for viewers to engage with the content they’re viewing, including interacting through votes and evaluations, or receiving content customized to their preferences.