October 7, 2019
By: Your Call Inc.
Why The Second Screen Can’t Play Second Fiddle
The Your Call team recently gathered at a sports bar outside Boston, smack-dab in Patriots country, to take in, what became, the latest Sunday slaughter. A little play, a little work; it’s always interesting to observe how fans watch sporting events, as well as engage with their favorite teams.
While hardly definitive, there was a clear theme that emerged, one that isn’t necessarily a secret but remains the core challenge for any team, league or entertainment property. Fans, increasingly, seem to have an unfettered desire to be constantly entertained. And the mobile device (even more so than human interaction) plays a central role, serving as an outlet or mood regulator whenever the primary entertainment borders on banal.
That’s not to say second screens were always on. They were always present, but their use followed something of a sliding scale. While the game was close, fans were thoroughly engaged in the TV (primary) screen. During commercial breaks? Just the opposite, with mobile devices providing the latest on scores and fantasy teams, gossip and social media. And as the game progressed, and got out of hand, mobile usage became an increasingly attractive diversion.
This is both the challenge and the opportunity – the concern being that solutions may be indistinguishable from the problems. Second screens aren’t going away. Nor is use of them. Nearly 90% of adults use a second screen while watching TV, according to an eMarketer study. And a recent study from Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience demonstrated that Millennials, in particular, switch platforms nearly every other minute during the course of a day. Think about that: Every. Other. Minute.
If it hasn’t already, the second screen must become a first consideration for teams, leagues and the advertisers associated with them. What was once seen as a destructive distraction, is now an opportunity for creative connection – if designed and developed from the ground up.
That said, brands must understand exactly where secondary screens fit, including when and with which consumers, in their entertainment ecosystem. Because interrupting the primary experience while fans are engaged (whether in-stadium, at a bar, or home on the couch) is detrimental to the product. But enhancing the experience, when interest begins to wane, is the key to sustaining interest for longer periods – furthering brand attachment, as well as revenue opportunities.
The advantage for sports teams and leagues is the live nature of events. Time-shifted TV is more susceptible to second screen as a distraction, as opposed to an enhancement. With programs that are primarily consumed live, second screens have served a number of uses to further engagement, including social/text conversations and checking on fantasy results.
In fact, a 2017 study by Mindstream Media reported higher engagement and memorability for TV sports when Twitter is used as a complement to the broadcast, showing that social interaction from fans enhances their overall experience, instead of detracting from it. Additionally, according to Momentum Worldwide, 58% of sports fans believe that posting updates and content makes watching a sporting event more enjoyable. Moreover, data shows that the second screen and live sports can coexist and, in fact, complement each other well. If utilized correctly, there is limitless opportunity to deepen engagement on the sports fan’s second screen.
But today’s second screen experience isn’t tomorrow’s solution. Fantasy teams, social media and behind-the-scenes content may still be outlets, but if there’s anything we know about fans, it’s that they always want more – and technology generally finds a way to deliver.
5G, faster chips, screen size, even smarter TVs and flexibility are just some of the variables that brands must consider in developing the next complementary experiences. Augmented reality and virtual reality. Real-time, behind-the-scenes, interactive content. A more customized Red Zone channel where fans can have each of their fantasy players in a portion of the TV screen – with a second screen providing a running tally of points, or an analysis of the moves that need to be made later in the day/week. A complementary, field-level viewing experience that comes from player mounted GoPros. The ability to call the plays that are run on the field. Or the ability to predict and wager on every play of every game, with a smart TV synched to a mobile phone.
These are just scratching the surface. The key is to prioritize the user experience by making the app simple and easy to use, while syncing seamlessly with the live event.