Television and the Second Screen: Interactive TV in the age of social participation 9781138914322, 9781138914339, 9781315690902

Television is changing almost beyond recognition. In the battle for consumers, social media sites, smart phones and tabl

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Television and the Second Screen: Interactive TV in the age of social participation
 9781138914322, 9781138914339, 9781315690902

Table of contents :
List of figures
1 The evolution of interactive TV
2 Recasting the active audience
3 Entertaining the interactive user: play-along, voting and gossip
4 Participating in the news agenda
5 Factual television: reinventing the digital public space
6 Second screen as multi-platform transmedia storytelling
7 Monetising second screen gameplay
8 Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’
9 The future for social participation in TV

Citation preview

Television and the Second Screen

Television is changing almost beyond recognition. Smart phones and tablet computers have become rivals to the traditional TV set in the battle for consumers. However, audiences and producers are also embracing social media sites and mobile platforms to enhance TV viewing itself. This book examines the emerging phenomenon of the second screen: where users are increasingly engaging with content on two screens concurrently. The practice is transforming television into an interactive, participatory and social experience. This book analyses these new patterns of audience behaviour within the framework of user agency and discusses recasting the notion of viewer activity. It studies the impact of the second screen on theoretical models including audience reception and transmedia storytelling. In researching this work, James Blake has interviewed more than 25 people in the TV industry – across the major UK broadcasters – including commissioning editors, digital directors, producers and advertising executives. In doing so, he has been able to track the evolution of interactive TV and examine the successes and failures of recent experiments and innovations in second screen projects. As the second screen becomes second nature for viewers and producers, the risks and opportunities for the future of television are slowly beginning to emerge. Television and the Second Screen offers students and scholars of television theory and practice an accessible and illuminating guide to this important cultural shift. James Blake is the Director of the Centre for Media and Culture at Edinburgh Napier University where he is a senior lecturer in TV and journalism. He spent more than 15 years in the TV industry and still works regularly for Channel 4 News and STV.

Television and the Second Screen Interactive TV in the age of social participation James Blake

First published 2017 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2017 James Blake The right of James Blake to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-1-138-91432-2 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-138-91433-9 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-69090-2 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by Saxon Graphics Ltd, Derby

To my amazing family – Gill, Harry and Robyn. (OK kids: can you put the screens down now?)


List of figures Acknowledgements

ix xi




The evolution of interactive TV



Recasting the active audience



Entertaining the interactive user: play-along, voting and gossip



Participating in the news agenda



Factual television: reinventing the digital public space



Second screen as multi-platform transmedia storytelling



Monetising second screen gameplay



Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’



The future for social participation in TV







3.3 3.4 3.5



Screen shot from the companion app for Channel 4’s Million Pound Drop. Image courtesy of Endemol/Shine group Screen shot from the companion app for Channel 4’s Million Pound Drop. Image courtesy of Endemol/Shine group Phone screen shot from a companion app for ITV’s The X Factor. Image courtesy of Fremantle Media Phone screen shot from the companion app for ITV’s The X Factor. Image courtesy of Fremantle Media iPad screen shot from the companion app for Channel 4’s The Singer Takes It All. Image courtesy of Endemol/Shine group Phone screen shot from the companion app for Channel 4’s The Singer Takes It All. Image courtesy of Endemol/ Shine group iPad screen shot from the companion app for ITV’s The X Factor. Image courtesy of Fremantle Media


50 57 59


66 151


First I would like to thank all of the media industry professionals who agreed to be interviewed for this book. I won’t list them all here as their names are scattered throughout these pages. Together their experiences, insights and reflections on the relationship between TV and the second screen have formed a cornerstone of this work. My colleagues at Edinburgh Napier University have helped to support me during the process of researching and writing this book. Professor Chris Atton, in particular, was a willing ear at the inception of the work and an invaluable source of advice at the end. I’d also like to thank Dr Alistair Scott, Dr Diane MacLean, Professor Linda Dryden and Pauline Miller Judd from the School of Arts at Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University. Beyond this, a number of people have been instrumental as the book developed. My thanks go to Lydia Ogden at Fremantle Media and Rachel Hassall at Endemol for organising the use of the companion app images contained in these pages. Tracey O’Connor at Pumpkin, Mark Middlemas at RadiumOne and Paul Davies from Yospace all helped secure interviewees as well as provide useful reports and data for this research. I would like to mention and thank the team behind the Westminster Media Forum and the organisers of the annual Future of TV Advertising Forum in London. Two good friends, Kojo Boateng and Drew McMillan, helped with ideas and case studies as well as very useful media contacts. Kitty Imbert at Routledge has filed down the rough edges of this manuscript to get it into a presentable state and, of course, there would be no book without my editor Niall Kennedy. The last mention should go to my wife, Gillian Blake, who read all the first drafts, gave me some great feedback and had to put up with a distracted husband for far too long.


The concept of ‘second screen’ is the story of a marriage of convenience between two ubiquitous media platforms: television and mobile devices. Theirs has been a turbulent and uneasy union forged during a period of unprecedented change in the digital landscape. As the dust settled in the aftermath of media convergence, television and mobiles were seen as rivals for the attention of viewers. However, within the realm of interactive and social television, these two dominant media forms have come together in partnership. This book examines the evolving nature of this relationship: its highs and lows, its successes and failures. ‘Second screen’ is best understood not as an object or a media device, but as an experience. It is a relatively nascent viewer activity that has been through a number of incarnations within the TV industry since its gradual inception. It is the act of engaging with related media content on two screens concurrently. Normally this would refer to the conventional television set along with a mobile platform like a smart phone or tablet. At various times it has been known as ‘dual screen’ and ‘companion screen’. The UK communications watchdog, Ofcom, refers to ‘media multi-tasking’ and ‘media meshing’ which it describes as ‘conducting activities or communicating via other devices while watching TV (where) these activities are related to the TV programme being watched’ (Ofcom, 2013). According to Jane Rumble, Head of Media Research at Ofcom: ‘Smart phone and tablet use has grown rapidly and we’ve also seen a decline in traditional television viewing. The latest figures show that half of UK adults are regular media multi-taskers’ (author interview, September 2015). In February 2013 a White Paper from the BBC’s Research and Development Department stated: We use the term (Dual Screen) to imply media experiences that involve additional content from the provider, presented on a secondary device such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop at specific points in a programme that is being presented on a television screen. (Jolly & Evans, 2013, p.2)



The ongoing drawback with the term ‘second screen’ is that it appears to apply a value judgement to different media forms. It seems implicit in the language that a mobile phone or tablet computer is somehow secondary to the television set. Yet for many people, particularly younger viewers, this is no longer the case. Often a mobile phone is used as the first screen. A recent Ofcom study has found that ‘Among 16–24 year olds, average daily television viewing has fallen every year since 2010’ (Ofcom, 2015). At one stage the BBC invented yet another term for second screen activity: ‘orchestrated media’. Jerry Kramskoy worked within the BBC R&D department during these changes: We started calling it ‘companion screen’ to try and avoid some of the issues around what second screen is. At first we couldn’t find a suitable name for it, so it’s been called all sorts of things in the past. Orchestrated media is basically the same concept. (Author interview, September 2015) Tom McDonnell is the CEO of the digital agency Monterosa, a company which designs and implements second screen projects for several broadcasters in the UK. He was one of a few people working in this area from the outset: There was a period of time after 2008 for about four years where some of us began targeting laptops as a way of experimenting with a TV show. During that period there wasn’t really a term for what that was. Interaction and interactive had become a bit tainted by the semi-failure of Red Button in the UK at least. So this trend came up and it was second screen. There were all sorts of different permutations but second screen stuck. (Author interview, June 2015)

The scale of second screen use How much are TV viewers using a mobile device in league with linear television viewing? According to the US market research company Nielsen: Eighty-four percent of smartphone and tablet owners (in America) say they use their devices as second-screens while watching TV at the same time. When using connected devices simultaneously, opportunities exist to deepen consumer engagement with content on the primary screen. (Nielsen, 2014, p.14) However, Nielsen’s 84 per cent figure includes viewers who may be using their mobiles in a way that is unrelated to the content on the TV at the time. This might include surfing the internet, texting friends and chatting on social media sites. For the purposes of this book I will take second screen use to



mean only that viewer activity which is linked to a television programme. This definition would include social media use where it is framed around the TV.

Second screen as a distraction? Dual-screen activity is altering the language and jargon around TV viewing. In terms of audience engagement, television has become known as a ‘look up’ media platform in comparison with mobile devices which oblige users to ‘look down’. Second screen activity, then, requires people to shift their attention up and down between screens. The resulting head movement has already been nicknamed ‘meerkating’. Even where multiscreen engagement is linked to the television itself, it can still be a significant distraction, pulling viewers’ attention away from the main programme itself. This is one of the main reasons why many TV producers and commissioning editors have been resistant to the technology over the past few years. Within the TV and advertising industries there seems to be considerable debate and disagreement over this issue. The nature of second screen distraction is a theme that appears a number of times in this book in different contexts. Marc Goodchild is a former BBC executive producer who worked on some of the corporation’s most high profile interactive experiences. He warns: ‘the minute you’re on these other platforms the temptation is there to drag you away, to get you more distracted. It’s an ongoing dilemma’ (author interview, November 2015). Dan Biddle, Head of Broadcast Partnerships at Twitter UK, told the Westminster Media Forum in 2014: ‘it’s not split attention, it’s actually double attention’, he says. ‘People are looking at everything at the same time, and we’ve got data that shows that people who are tweeting and watching TV are far more engaged with the messages that come out of those TV shows’ (Biddle, 2014, p.14). For Jane Rumble at Ofcom, the research shows that the twin forces of attention and distraction can move in both directions where the second screen is concerned: Yes it can take your attention away from the television, but it can also draw you back in again as well. I don’t feel that these devices are necessarily changing people’s attention to TV. They are also helping facilitate moving people back to TV. It can make programmes more exciting and you can talk to your friends about it. What does the US market research firm Nielsen research have to say about viewer distraction? Brian Fuhrer is the SVP Cross-Platform Product leader at the company and argues that the positives outweigh the negatives: ‘the second screen gives viewers so much more flexibility to be able to do any number of things simultaneously’, he says. ‘From our perspective the interesting thing is it really hasn’t had a major impact on TV viewing’



(author interview, October 2015). This book will argue that second screen distraction depends on a number of factors including the genre of television programme and the intentions and motivations of the viewers themselves.

Structure of the book The tectonic plates are shifting under the television industry. Many people have predicted the so-called ‘death of television’ recently whilst still more have heralded the rebirth of TV in its various fragmented forms. The real picture depends on how the notion of television is defined. Traditional television has been recast as ‘linear TV’ in the lexicon of the digital multi-platform age and it has become just one of a number of ways that people are consuming video content. ‘Linear’ now lives alongside Catch-Up TV, Video On Demand (VOD), Over The Top (OTT) streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu and short-form video content on websites like as well as social media platforms. Within this evolving ecosystem, dual-screen engagement is being used by broadcasters, advertisers and audiences as a means of drawing people away from streaming services and VOD and back to ‘live TV’. It has been about repositioning traditional TV as both a social and participatory experience. As Brian Fuhrer from Nielsen argues: ‘we see the second screen enhancing and propelling live TV as people consume live events and experience them not only with people in the room but with people in their electronic tribe’. However, the second screen, this troubled union of TV and mobile, is still finding its place in this world of shifting sands. When Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, stood up in front of a crowd of British television producers and executives at the Edinburgh International Television Festival he enthused about the possibilities of TV interactivity on mobile platforms: ‘Perhaps most exciting for all, and at least for a technologist such as myself’, he said, ‘are the opportunities to integrate content across multiple screens and devices’ (Schmidt, 2011). Schmidt’s MacTaggart lecture was in 2011 and a lot has happened since then. In the intervening years there have been a number of experiments and innovations around interactivity on mobile platforms. This book is not intended to be a celebration of the second screen. Instead it’s an audit of ongoing interactivity in TV, an assessment of the evolution of second screen projects and a fair and honest reflection of the successes and failures. In researching this book, I have interviewed more than 25 industry figures from across the spectra of broadcast TV, production, advertising, betting, regulation and audience analytics. Within the mix there are TV commissioning editors, digital producers, broadcast department heads and CEOs of creative agencies. All have had some involvement in second screen interaction in the recent past. Many are passionate about the opportunities it presents to broadcasters, audiences and advertisers to enhance the viewing experience. Other interviewees are more wary: citing concerns over cost, technology challenges, user demand and viewer distraction. Television and the Second Screen



focuses mainly on the British TV industry, although some international examples, mainly from Denmark, the Netherlands and America, are used in order to highlight some global influencers and provide a degree of international perspective. Second screen activity has not been a revolution, it has emerged out of other interactive forms and its journey has been driven forward by the often competing demands of broadcasters and viewers. It is for this reason that Chapter 1 examines the history of interactive television itself, from the earliest manifestations in the 1950s and 1960s, through text-based services like Teletext and Ceefax, and into the beginning of digital TV at the beginning of the millennium. During this time interactive TV suffered from old notions of media-as-gatekeeper as well as technical challenges which limited TV itself as a one-way communication tool. As Marc Goodchild comments: I think TV has struggled with interactive for quite a long time because it’s been optimised around being a ‘push’ technology. So a lot of the stories we tell about the human condition have been constrained by that. We’ve ended up with TV being a window on the world rather than a doorway through to the world. Chapter 2 studies what impact new patterns of viewer engagement have on theories of audience motivation and agency. It explores how the terms traditionally used around the active/passive dichotomy have been reclaimed and recast. And it debates new issues surrounding the decoding of media messages when TV audiences are increasingly participating in the creation of the messages themselves. TV entertainment is, on the surface, the success story of second screen interaction. Chapter 3 compares a number of shows like The X Factor (ITV, 2004–), Big Brother (Channel 5, 2011–), The Singer Takes It All (Channel 4, 2014) and Million Pound Drop (Channel 4, 2012–) all of which created dedicated companion apps to provide diverse synchronised user experiences. Senior figures from the commissioning and production teams involved in each programme explain how the apps were developed and the various ways they each provide a real time platform for user participation, play-along games and socialisation. My background has been in TV news and current affairs where I have spent nearly 20 years in various roles, both as a TV producer and reporter. I started at the BBC before moving to ITN where I worked at ITV News and then Channel 4 News for a long period. More recently I’ve contributed to STV’s output in Scotland both in news and current affairs. Over this whole period the working practices in news have changed dramatically, first with a shift in emphasis to online multimedia content and then to mobile platforms and apps. Social media networks have become increasingly decisive as a source of information and User Generated Content (UGC) as well as a platform for spreading and sharing stories. For example, I used Twitter’s



Periscope app to live stream pictures and commentary for second screen viewers at the Edinburgh Count on the evening of the General Election 2015. Viewers were able to leave messages within this feed in real time. Social media amplifies the profile and reputation of a news provider beyond the limits of its traditional audience and outside the usual timescale of news consumption. As Ed Fraser, Managing Editor of Channel 4 News, states: The transnational permutation of content is massive and it carries authority beyond Channel 4 News’ reach in the UK. For example, if you look back to the reports we did on the Sri Lanka Killing Fields: all that continues to carry great weight. (Author interview, January 2015) Chapter 4 focuses on TV News and examines the nature and impact of social participation in the coverage of both the Scottish Independence Referendum campaign in 2014, the General Election in 2015, the EU referendum campaign and the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe. News providers, like Sky News, are increasingly creating partnerships with social platforms to generate interactive multiscreen experiences to reach out to younger viewers and encourage them to participate in setting the news agenda. Chapter 5 looks at viewer participation in factual television through the lens of public Service Broadcasting and the evolving concept of the ‘digital public space’. There are insights into the BBC’s various second screen experiments as it developed companion apps for factual shows like Springwatch (BBC, 2005–) and the conclusions the corporation reached after the trials ended. The chapter shows how the second screen can facilitate partnerships between broadcasters and external organisations and explores how this could fit into the BBC’s recent concept of an ‘ideas service’ for the future of the corporation. It also examines the phenomena of the so-called ‘drive to live’ in which factual programmes are transformed into live events in order to inspire interaction and generate a social buzz. Matt Millar is the CEO of digital agency Tellybug, a company which develops TV companion projects worldwide. He says ‘The successful second screen experiences are all about adding value to those live experiences. Make it better to watch it live – which then adds extra value to the second screen’ (author interview, September 2015). The debate around distraction and the nature of active and passive audiences has generally been focused around TV drama. This is where OTT streaming companies have made the most headway in commissioning and showcasing big budget dramas with high production values and complex narratives. Chapter 6 examines how the motivation for audience activity in this field is limited: by nature TV dramas are supposed to be ‘lean-back’, immersive experiences. Yet, despite this, producers are innovating with the second screen in drama to develop multi-screen transmedia narratives as well as increased social engagement. As Jason Mittell (2015) suggests: ‘TV producers use social



networks and platforms to enable engagement across screens, creating opportunities for narrative expansions through viewer-driven conversations and sharing within so-called second screen experiences’ (p.293). Beyond this, the second screen adds fresh layers to the paratext of a drama and enables users and superfans to participate in these additional narrative strands. By creating new opportunities for monetising content and creating commercial partnerships, the second screen has come into its own. In sport this has taken several different forms, each of which builds on the preexisting passion and engagement of fans. Together, in-game betting companies and fantasy sports firms have led the way in this area by embedding real-time data processing in mobile second screen apps. Chapter 7 also explores how TV jackpot and gambling shows have evolved and innovated with viewer interactivity on mobile platforms. Whilst television itself is fighting off predictions of its own imminent demise, the traditional 30-second TV ad spot does look to be nearing the end of its life. An 11-year Ofcom ethnographic study in media literacy has surveyed a group of people to discover how their habits have changed over time. The latest report says, ‘the majority of our sample claim to use a variety of ad-avoidance tactics when watching TV’ (Ofcom, 2016, p.36). These tactics include everything from recording programmes on digital video recorders (DVRs) and skipping the adverts during playback, to installing ad blockers into online players. Viewers are good at distracting themselves and advertisers need to take this into account as Lindsey Clay, CEO of the commercial TV advertising organisation Thinkbox, argues: People have always been hugely distracted by stuff in their living room, they’ve always been talking to other people, reading newspapers, eating, doing all sorts of things. (Clay, 2014, p.32) In this way, Chapter 8 highlights the marketing opportunities inherent in the second screen for commercial brands. The Ofcom report states that online and social media ‘contextual advertising – personalised to the individual based on their web browsing behaviour – was considered to be useful at times’. To benefit from this user sentiment, mobile TV viewing has enabled brands to create tailored and personalised TV adverts. Digital agencies are also using the second screen to embed ‘brand experiences’ within the interactive content of a show including synchronised play-along games, product placement and social engagement around a campaign. The final chapter casts ahead by examining the future of interactive TV with an eye on how media technologies and user habits are changing. This includes how media consumption may, in some areas, move away from second screen engagement, particularly around 360 degree videos and virtual reality headsets. Beyond this it considers the factors which will determine how the second screen evolves: including the reinvention of the



BBC after the 2016 Charter Renewal process, the cost of developing companion apps and the implications of potential changes to regulation in the digital space. Certainly second screen use is enabling broadcasters and advertisers to know more about their audiences than ever before as the twin processes of user data harvesting and audience analytics become more sophisticated. Second screen interactivity takes many forms: it’s a forum for social bonding, a platform for enhanced content and a portal for audience two-way participation. Yet the question remains: in which areas and TV genres should broadcasters and advertisers focus their second screen interactive projects to get the best return on their investment? Matt Millar, CEO of digital agency Tellybug, sums it up: You’ve got The Wire boxset at one end of the spectrum and you’ve got The X Factor and Premiership football at the other end of the spectrum. I think the really interesting space for second screen TV – which I don’t think that anyone has worked out yet – is where does Eastenders sit? This book hopes to provide an answer to that question.

Bibliography Biddle, D. (2014) The role of social media in the television market. Based on a transcript from Westminster Media Forum, TV and the Second Screen: Social Media, Innovation and Regulation. 27 November 2014. Clay, L. (2014) The future of social television – commercial opportunities, audience engagement and live programming. Based on a transcript from Westminster Media Forum, TV and the Second Screen: Social Media, Innovation and Regulation. 27 November 2014. Jolly, S. J. E. & Evans, M. J. (2013) Improving the Experience of Media in the Connected Home with a New Approach to Inter-Device Communication. BBC Research and Development White Paper. WHP 242. Mittell, J. (2015) Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: New York University Press. Nielsen (2014) The Digital Consumer. Available at: the-digital-consumer-report-2014-nielsen Ofcom (2015) The Communications Market Report (CMR). Published 6 August. Available at: Ofcom (2013) The Reinvention of the 1950s Living Room. Ofcom news release alongside the CMR 2013. Available at: news/2013/the-reinvention-of-the-1950s-living-room-2/http://stakeholders. Ofcom (2016) Media Lives: A Qualitative Study. Wave 11 summary report. Available at: medialives11/media_lives_2015_summary.pdf Schmidt, E. (2011) James MacTaggart Lecture. Edinburgh International Television Festival 2011. Available at: aug/26/eric-schmidt-mactaggart-lecture


The evolution of interactive TV

In 1953, American middle-class families noticed a sudden and unusual development in their children’s behaviour: they had started drawing and colouring on their TV screens. The reason, it turned out, was all to do with a new children’s programme called Winky Dink and You (CBS, 1953– 1957). It was the very first incarnation of a unique type of TV show which encouraged its young audience to take part and do something during transmission. Families had to buy a special transparent sheet (the ‘magic drawing screen’) to put over the TV set. Then children, using crayons, would aid the characters in the programme by drawing helpful things like roads, bridges, ladders or cages (to keep wild animals in). Aside from drawing objects, children also had to complete join the dots puzzles which revealed secret messages. Winky Dink was one of the most popular TV characters of the 1950s. However, there was a drawback: children got into the habit of defacing the TV set and weren’t waiting for the transparent paper to be attached. As a result the show was canned and the notion of interactive TV went back into its box … at least for a while. The evolution of interactive television has been a journey of innovation and experimentation. It has required technological advances, a fundamental shift in the mindset of TV professionals, and changes in the structures and business models of the TV industry. This turbulent history has spanned decades, crossed continents and has taken place in both public sector and commercial broadcasting. It’s been shaped by the creative and technical minds across a broad section of the industry and beyond: TV producers, presenters, advertising executives and audience members themselves. However, ultimately, the history of interactive television has been a story of failure. Part of the problem lies with the term ‘interactive’ in the first place. There have been a multitude of definitions for the term ‘interactive’ both in media and the performing arts. According to Tom McDonnell, CEO of the digital agency Monterosa, It’s just an evolution of a form of entertainment that has existed for centuries really. At the heart of it is the idea that you can gather people round a performance. Some forms of performance are completely


The evolution of interactive TV passive, but not all of it. A pantomime is not passive is it? There are certain concerts you expect the audience to get involved in too. So there’s a branch of performance which is interactive. (Author interview, June 2015)

As a concept ‘interactive TV’ has been flexible enough to deal with evolving technologies and viewer habits. However, it’s also a vague term: there’s no real consensus to its meaning and it’s been stained by a number of so-called interactive TV projects that have struggled with failing technologies, spiralling costs and low levels of audience engagement. Many of these same challenges face second screen experiences today.

The taxonomies of interaction Over the past 30 years, researchers and industry professionals have attempted to define and classify different categories of Interactive TV (iTV). Jensen (2001) says there has been a ‘media studies blind spot’ (p.28) around theories of interactivity and defines the term as ‘a program or segment of a program involving the active co-operation of the viewer’ (p.16). In the following years, detailed taxonomies emerged which divided the notion of interactive TV into three basic forms: Enhanced, Personalised and Participatory. ‘Enhanced TV’ is a phrase that the BBC and other broadcasters adopted to describe their interactive outputs at the start of the new millennium. It involves the creation of additional content to give added value to the viewing experience, including videos, text-based information, photographs and graphics. The second form of iTV has been described variously as ‘Distribution interactivity’ (Gawlinski, 2003, p.6) or ‘Personalised TV’ (Jensen, 2005, p.89.) It focuses on viewer agency and the different mechanisms of audience control. According to Jensen, ‘Personalised TV is linked to a piece of hardware … which in principle offers the user the same control over the broadcast flow’ (2005, p.90). The piece of hardware might have been, at various times, the remote control, a video cassette recorder (VCR), SMS texting via a mobile phone, a digital set top box, a wifi TV streaming platform … or a second screen device like a smart phone or tablet. The third form of interactive TV involves viewers actively taking part in a television programme. Gawlinski refers to research by the Henley Centre which outlines a similar concept as ‘participation interactivity – where viewers are able to choose between options during a programme or advertisement. This includes the ability to play-along with a game show’ (2003, p.7). Each of these three categories has a second screen dimension. Viewers can access multimedia content on mobile platforms to enhance their viewing. Likewise, tablets and smart phones can act as Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs), remote controls and Video on Demand (VOD) players to give viewers personalised control. Finally, synchronised companion apps and online social media forums enable both one-way and two-way audience participation in TV shows.

The evolution of interactive TV


Radio As a medium, radio has been more conducive to interactivity which has been centred around the phone-in. In America, NBC’s Today Show experimented with phone-ins back in 1959. In the UK, BBC Radio Nottingham broadcast a radio phone-in during a 1968 show called What are they up to now? ‘Phone-in calls can be considered as being at the interface of interpersonal one-to-one and one-to-many communication’ (Jautz, 2014, p.20). The interaction doesn’t reflect real life conversations, however, as there is an inherent power imbalance in the process. Jautz (2014) describes this as the ‘asymmetrical relation of host and caller’ where the caller has to ‘abide by conversational management’ (p.20). The phone-in continues to be a mainstay of live talk radio whilst in television its use has been much more limited. Television phone-ins have appeared occasionally in magazine programmes and TV tabloid shows on both sides of the Atlantic (Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff being one example). TV is much more likely to put together a live studio audience to engage in a topical debate or to engineer a personal confrontation.

Text-based services In 1972 two text-based TV services were announced: Ceefax for the BBC and Oracle (later renamed Teletext) for ITV. At first Teletext was primarily an on-screen information service which then went on to sell consumer bargains and holiday deals. It was another 20 years before TV producers started to realise its interactive potential with the quiz Bamboozle. Originally this was supposed to be a real-time game played alongside a TV quiz with a multiple choice format. However, technical issues meant it was impossible to synchronise the Teletext game with a broadcast TV show. Since then, ongoing issues of synchronicity have caused both technical and editorial challenges for interactive and second screen TV projects. In the end Bamboozle ended up being a Teletext format and players had to make do with a virtual host: Bamber Boozler. The game generated a large fanbase which endured for more than 16 years. In 2010 Bamboozle was relaunched in the Apple App store as a mobile game complete with retro graphics and interactive leaderboards. Bamboozle was a significant first step in adjusting the mindset of TV viewers and producers into thinking about television as a potentially popular, two-way interactive medium.

Remote controls and VCRs Remote controls and video cassette recorders represent important milestones in the development of viewer agency. They gave users greater control over what and when they watched TV. More significantly they laid the groundwork for future viewer interaction. They introduced the notion of an


The evolution of interactive TV

interactive device independent of the TV set itself and they started to have a psychological impact on the mindset of both viewers and TV producers. The technology behind remote controls is almost as old as television itself. Back in 1956 the so-called ‘Zenith Space Command’ was a wireless remote which used ultrasound technology to change the channel and volume on TV sets. When viewers pressed buttons the device emitted sounds in different frequencies which were picked up by the TV set. It was the creation of Ceefax by the BBC in 1973 that really pushed the take up and development of the remote control. Until then, devices had only three functions: channel forward, channel back and volume/off. Ceefax needed numbers and the ability to switch between text services and TV. Remotes made viewing easier: they put the viewer back in control of what they watched. Before this, programme makers often relied on the laziness of viewers not to get up and change channels. The new remote control worried commercial broadcasters, in particular, who feared that people might simply change channel when the adverts came on at the end of a show. It led to more adverts being played in the middle of TV programmes. In recent years, broadcasters, TV manufacturers and digital TV providers, like Sky and Virgin media, have all embraced mobile platforms to develop a new generation of remote controls. In 2011, the BBC Research and Development Department published a number of papers into its development of an API (Application Program Interface) for a so-called Universal Control. According to one BBC White Paper: ‘The Universal Control API has been designed to be a good API for creating remote user interfaces running on PCs and mobile phones and in web browsers, controlling set top boxes and similar devices on the local network’ (Barrett et al., 2011, p.27). The team examined the use of mobile phones and tablets to control TVs and set top boxes (STB) via Bluetooth or Wifi. The initiative also laid many of the necessary technical foundations required for tablets and phones to become synchronised companion devices linked to TV sets. However, the TV industry was moving quickly and the BBC vision of the Universal Control was abandoned. Jerry Kramskoy, who worked at BBC R&D at the time, says ‘The Universal control was an experiment which eventually died a death because there wasn’t acceptance in the wider industry. Obviously the TV manufacturers have a strong say in how they want things to look on their TV.’ In fact, most SMART TV manufacturers were developing their own mobile apps that could turn a mobile device into a remote control and an electronic programme guide (EPG). Since then, EPGs have developed a functionality that goes beyond TV listings to embrace VOD and simulcast. The development of EPGs is driving innovation in second screen use as EPGs become the platform of user activity around TV discovery, selection and playback. If remote controls have evolved into second screen EPGs then VCRs are the precursors to set top boxes and cloud-based storage systems. In 1982, ten per cent of households in the UK owned a video recorder: a figure which increased to 30 per cent in 1985. The success of the VCR meant that

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terrestrial TV had a competitor in the living room for the attention of viewers: people could hire a movie or record a programme to watch later. As the VCR became a rival to live television it also challenged the development of some fledgling interactive services. For the most part, interactive TV required people to watch TV at the time of transmission. The emergence of the VCR provided audiences with the power to take control of their own viewing time. In fact, the history of interactive TV (including second screen activity) can be seen as an attempt to help live television fight back against the VCR. In recent years this translates into the ongoing conflict between linear TV, VOD and streaming services.

The experiments of the 1990s In 1994 Channel 4 experimented with Teletext services by linking them with chat forums on the emerging internet. The channel took a long-established computer game show called Gamesmaster and, during one episode in series 4, displayed social chat messages in lines of Teletext on the screen. The experiment didn’t become an integral part of the show but in hindsight it was one of the first times a UK broadcaster engaged with embryonic online social TV forums. During the decade another company, Two-Way TV, was developing technologies which enabled viewers to interact with entertainment shows or make predictions during sports programmes. Nick Hall was a producer at the company: ‘Two-way TV created a dedicated set top box for playing along with live sport and game shows’, he says. ‘It was quite significant and at the time we were the biggest players in that market. Then we adopted the red button model and we did games on all platforms’ (author interview, December 2015). The company produced a quiz show called Fifteen to One which created a leaderboard for at-home players. For households that took part, there was a jump in the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) ratings for these interactive programmes. Two-way TV had four handsets which enabled families to play together. According to Nolan (2002, p.62), ‘Many commented that they communicated more as a family instead of watching TV in silence as they had done previously’. In 1999 the BBC developed a new interactive CBBC children’s game show called Sub Zero. It was pitched as the ‘Ultimate Battle of the Sexes’: boys and girls formed teams to compete against each other in a series of ‘high tech quests’ (BBC Press release, 1999). The studio teams needed the help of viewers at home because they couldn’t win by themselves. There were a number of different interactive layers in the show. Marc Goodchild was the producer: ‘Sub Zero was around the beginning of the internet going mainstream into schools’, he says. ‘We were getting kids into internet cafes on a Sunday to contribute into the show using webcams’ (author interview, November 2015). There was also a 3D virtual reality studio where contestants would be guided around a maze by viewers at home pressing keys on a phone. Audiences could also participate online, by email or even by sending letters through the mail.


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The programme also set internet challenges for young viewers at home by setting an online treasure hunt each week. In the mid 1990s a number of large-scale exploratory interactive TV projects were set up to explore the technology, the user demand and the commercial benefits. In 1994, broadcasters, banks, computer companies and shops set up a wide-ranging experiment known as the Cambridge Digital iTV trial. The BBC, ITN, Anglia TV, the NatWest Bank and Acorn computers were all involved in creating a system which used ATM networking technology. At first it had just ten users, but two years later there were 100 participants. The services on offer included home banking and shopping via the TV, information and education software services and enhanced TV channels On Demand. The content was streamed to homes, schools and businesses in the Cambridge Cable Network. It was both an experiment in networked technology and usability and relied on detailed feedback from participants. Nicoll (2001) argues that ultimately the trial didn’t succeed as ‘tensions emerged during the Cambridge trial between anticipation and actualisation, imagination and realisation’ (p.193). In 1995 British Telecom ran its own interactive trial involving 2,500 households in Colchester and Ipswich. According to BT the system ‘brought together the telephone and the television to enable customers to choose and order entertainment and information services’ (BT Archives, 1995). There were education programmes to complement the national curriculum, local news, an On Demand film channel, shopping services and an interactive advertising platform called Adland. By the turn of the new millennium, the industry was in a position to start pushing at the boundaries of interactivity and TV audiences were ready and waiting for it.

Digital television Big Brother One programme in particular showcased the new interactive possibilities that arose as a result of the growing convergence between TV and the web. In the summer of 2000, Channel 4 broadcast the first series of Big Brother (Channel 4, 2000–2010/Channel 5, 2011–2016), a new reality show format imported from the Netherlands. The show selected a group of contestants, put them in a specially designed house together for 64 days and filmed the results. There were cameras in each room of the house and the garden, including infra-red cameras in the bedrooms and two-way mirrors. Big Brother became Channel 4’s biggest hit, in ratings terms, for several years and in many ways defined the channel itself: innovative, risk-taking and appealing to a younger audience. As Kilborn (2003, p.18) states: The phenomenal success of Big Brother, for instance, was attributable in no small measure to the skillful way in which the begetters of the

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series deployed the full range of multimedia and interactive technologies … to activate and orchestrate audience response, particularly among members of the younger generation. The interaction was both enhanced and participatory: viewers at home could go online and select a live TV stream from any camera in the Big Brother house. Collectively TV audiences also decided the outcome of the show by participating in an eviction vote every week. Nick Hall is the Director of Operations for Digital Media at Endemol which produces Big Brother: ‘It was the UK’s first interactive mass TV experiment with collective voting and then streaming,’ he says. ‘It is one of the first times that people really participated in a TV show.’ Each new year heralded fresh innovations in interaction on Big Brother. In 2010 the format was ditched by Channel 4 and picked up by its rival broadcaster Channel 5. By 2016 there was a dedicated second screen companion app which served as a platform for polls, voting, sponsored adverts and social networks. However, we are getting ahead of ourselves …

Television versus internet Back in 2000, the advent of digital television was, of course, a game-changer for the evolution of interactive TV. Many creative ambitions, that were only a pipe dream for TV producers during the early 1990s, were now within grasp. More than this, digital TV created an attitude shift, both within the TV industry and among its increasingly active audience, about what TV could do and what it was for. Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) started as a subscription service in 1998 via ONdigital. After a single month 100,000 digiboxes had been sold: such was the appetite for this new technology. Sky Digital launched in October 1998 and promised viewers better picture quality and a greater choice of channels. A few months later a new digital service called Open also appeared on Sky Digital. Open Interactive Limited was owned by a consortium of companies including the HSBC bank, BT, Matsushita and BSkyB itself. Ironically, ‘Open’ was a relatively closed service: it didn’t connect to the internet, it wasn’t available on any other platform and all the content had to be specially designed and created for it. This ‘walled garden’ approach by developers limited the growth of the Open service and there were a number of problems with this interactive portal. ‘Open’ was very slow compared with the internet itself and users couldn’t use the services whilst watching Sky TV at the same time. Other broadcasters, at this time, were developing interactive sites which divided and shared the same screen as the TV (a precursor to second screen use). In the end Open did process 65,000 shopping and commercial transactions but it also lost upwards of £116 million. Brian Fuhrer is the SVP Cross-Platform leader for Nielsen, the global audience analytics company. He describes the standoff between


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interactive TV and the internet: ‘There was a time from an historical perspective when there was a horse race between interactive TV and the internet,’ he says. ‘Companies put a lot of money into interactive TV but ultimately it failed in favour of the internet and what the internet could provide’ (author interview, October 2015). If the story of the second screen is a marriage of convenience between the TV and the mobile web, then this was the stop–start phase of flirting and courtship.

2001: an interactive odyssey 2001 was a pivotal year in the journey of interactive television. Big Brother had shown producers and broadcasters what was possible, the TV industry and the economy were buoyant and there was money to invest in new creative ventures. Interactive TV had both commercial and public service benefits so each UK broadcaster had their own divergent reasons for embracing the technology. Looking back this was a heyday for enhanced TV. Sky Active Perhaps it’s not surprising that Open only lasted a little more than two years before it was bought up by BSkyB and rebranded as Sky Active in May 2001. Many of the old ‘Open’ services and revenue-raising functions survived the change and continued within Sky Active: games, shopping, pizza delivery, weather information and, significantly, sports betting. However, this was less about interacting with TV programmes and more concerned with creating a separate interactive commercial zone on the digital TV platform. As we shall see in Chapter 7, Sky did break new ground in developing interactive TV channels around gaming and betting services. Sky News Active also played to the strengths of Sky News’ extensive newsgathering operation by giving the audience members choice over the stories they followed. This worked particularly well with the live coverage of ongoing news events where viewers could opt to stay with a speech or a press conference. Sky News Active then embraced live voting as a way of engaging with their audience during news programmes. It was put to extensive use during the 2001 general election campaign where, for example, Sky asked viewers about asylum policies and voting intentions. Perhaps the most interesting voting outcome came after the infamous John Prescott punch when the Deputy Prime Minister hit out at someone in the crowd after he was struck by an egg. According to Sky nearly 38,000 people voted over the course of the day with 61 per cent saying they supported Mr Prescott’s response (Wilkes, 2001). Who wants to be a Millionaire? ITV wasn’t going to be left behind in this drive for interactive TV in 2001. It took the gameshow hit Who wants to be a Millionaire? (ITV 1998–2014)

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and remodelled it into an interactive programme on the digital channel ITV2 where viewers were able to play along with their remote controls. At the same time an internet version of the show was launched online so people could play against TV contestants and other internet users. Players could win points based on whether they answered a question correctly and how quickly they arrived at the answer. The ITV2 interactive show was sponsored by BT and was attractive to advertisers because players had to keep tuned in during ad breaks or else they would lose all their points. The online version of the game was very popular; launching in April 2001, it scored half a million hits in the first month alone. In the days before smart phones, iPads and tablets, this was one of the first second screen play-along experiences: using laptops and PCs in sync with the television. BBC interactive Ceefax had proved to be very resilient as an interactive text-based service at the BBC and was finally retired from service in 2012. It also spawned many of the BBC’s other interactive offerings during the new millennium: starting with BBC Text. The early versions of BBC Text relied on migrated Ceefax content and whilst Ceefax graphics were still made up of simple blocks of colour, BBC Text had a more sophisticated interface with greater detail, definition and, significantly, the possibility of photographic images. Wimbledon 2001 Wimbledon 2001 was the moment that the BBC seized on the interactive possibilities of digital television. Whilst terrestrial viewers still had the usual BBC coverage hosted by Sue Barker and John Inverdale, digital TV users could press their red buttons to watch a choice of up to five live matches via an ‘interactive multiscreen’ application. They could select a specific match to watch or view all five by remaining in multiscreen. Each screen had its own ‘dynamic scoreboard’ which automatically updated during the game. ‘It’s about how do you supercharge the viewing experience?’ says Marc Goodchild, at the time a BBC producer in interactive services, ‘it took you closer to that experience of being at Wimbledon’. According to the BBC the service was a ‘big hit’ with ‘more than one million tuning in on the first day’ (BBC News, June 2001). The interactive services were created by the BBC’s New Media department and BBC Sport. ‘These figures show that the BBC’s interactive services have at last come of age,’ said Scott Gronmark, the head of BBC Interactive TV at the time (BBC News, June 2001). More than 6.6 million people tuned in to watch the final which turned out to be a classic five-set thriller between Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Rafter. Over the championship the BBC broadcast a record 200 hours of live coverage and the average live audience increased by 25 per cent on the previous year. The number of people accessing BBC online Wimbledon coverage doubled to


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over 16 million page impressions. The BBC appeared to be poised to capitalise on this success. BBCi In November 2001, a story on the BBC News website read ‘BBCi heralds new interactive era’ (BBC News, 7 November 2001). At this stage about a third of UK households were connected to a digital TV service via satellite, cable or aerial. BBCi was created as an umbrella service, a single identity for BBC online, BBC Text and BBC Interactive. The ‘i’ in BBCi stood for interactive and innovation. A branded i-bar appeared on TV programmes and online content alerting viewers to additional interactive material. The big showcase for this new interactive era was the BBC’s new flagship documentary Walking with Beasts (BBC, 2001). Interactive TV had, according to the BBC news website, suffered from ‘years of false starts’ but now the BBC was ‘an interactive pioneer’ (BBC News, 15 November 2001). When viewers tuned into Walking with Beasts they could access alternative commentaries, text information and extra video footage. The show was created by Marc Goodchild at the BBC: ‘Some people thought it was a bad idea’ he says. ‘Other people said “this is about evolving the form of narrative”.’ The technology was based on the video switching model the BBC had developed for the Wimbledon coverage. Instead of a multiscreen display, viewers could select between one of four streams using the colour fast-text keys on their remote. This was always intended to be a linear viewer experience but one in which the viewer had the choice over which linear path they choose. Marc Goodchild explains the rationale: We made a journey running on two tracks which converged. We were chapterising these things and the two divergent chapters had a different voice: one was much more about getting beneath the bones of the beast. The other one was about how do you bring the beast to life. In total, according to the BBC, there were about 700 pop-up facts, over four hours of additional footage and three hours of alternative commentary. The coverage won a BAFTA for that year in the category of ‘Enhancement of Linear Media’.

Enhanced TV Enhancement is a crucial word in this context. The central focus for the BBC, at this time, was not in developing platforms for viewers to actively participate in a TV show. Instead it focused on providing an added value to the terrestrial content by boosting consumer choice. Enhanced TV (ETV) included information and text-based services, additional video material, behind the scenes films, interviews and multiple live camera streamed events.

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The BBC was putting money, effort and resources into experimenting and innovating in digital and new media. The language executives used at the time suggests ETV was a priority for the corporation. One BBC senior technical manager, Humphrey Lau, is quoted as saying: ‘the BBC’s experience so far has only served to reaffirm our early convictions that, to succeed, ETV must be considered as an integral part of the televisual experience and, what’s more, be commissioned along with the television programme’ (cited in Gawlinski, 2003, p.189) Red Button For years the red button on the remote control has been the gateway for interactive services across broadcasters and platforms in the UK: including Sky, ITV and Channel 4. BBC viewers had been using the red button to access interactive services for ten years before the official red button branding began to appear on screen. As a result there was no official launch of BBC Red Button, it simply materialised into being from the existing interactive services. From about 2008 the corporation gradually began to drop the BBCi logo from the screen. The BBC’s popular on-demand online video player the iPlayer is the only service that retains the ‘i’ in its branding. In 2008 the BBC celebrated ten years of the Red Button. A BBC press release lists the programmes and events which the corporation considered to be the interactive highlights of the service. These included Test the Nation, ‘the UK’s first truly interactive quiz’ which has been held 17 times since 2002. It also pointed to ‘unrivalled coverage of the country’s best music events’ where viewers were given a choice of up to five performances from live music events like Glastonbury and T-in-the-Park. In 2004 BBC Red Button broadcast a live interview from an astronaut in the international space station (BBC Press Release, 2008). In 2004 an interactive documentary called How to Sleep Better (BBC, 2004) was developed as a transmedia project. Viewers used their red buttons to answer a variety of questions in order to develop their own personal sleep profile. Marc Goodchild was the producer on the show: ‘We did personal sleep profiles based on around 20 questions. Each profile took you down a different variant in the video’. ‘We extended that interactive promise across every media possible. We even had a magazine pull out so people could do it on paper. It wasn’t about the technology it was about the promise of interaction and the psychological pull.’ In this case the concept of interaction itself was enough to motivate viewers to watch the show. Yet the programme is significant in the build up towards second screen activity for another reason too. The production team experimented with using the buttons on mobile phones to enable viewer


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interaction in real time. This was three years before the first iPhone was released. ‘We did a demo version of what this would be like on your feature phone: probably not second screen at that time but a second device,’ says Goodchild. ‘Lots of people could be watching the same show and each get their own personalised experience from it as text updates.’ Such mobile technology was still in its infancy and, for the BBC, the red button remained as the focus of its interactive services. In accordance with the ethos of the BBC, Red Button was made available free of charge to license fee payers across digital TV: on cable, Sky and digital terrestrial through Freeview. It was very popular with viewers: in the 2009/10 financial year it was used by almost 12 million viewers every week. In 2010 the BBC Trust published a Service Review of the BBC Red Button which outlined what it described as its core proposition. It included: ● ● ● ●

a BBC Red Button homepage; a digital text service, providing a full range of content from BBC Journalism; up to two video streams to cover key music, sport and entertainment events; additional interactive capacity sufficient to launch applications like the sports multiscreen (to support the event video streams above), and to enable interactive games (e.g. for children). (BBC Trust, 2010, p.12)

Yet the report also outlined interactive services which were outside this core proposition and therefore at risk of being cut back. It stated BBC Red Button should ‘focus on its strengths’ which it described as the ‘digital text content’ and the ‘additional coverage of live events’. A stark warning followed: ‘other more experimental content should be commissioned only when there would be little or no incremental cost to the BBC’ (BBC Trust, 2010, p.15) As the novelty of enhanced TV subsided, the realities of the costs were hitting home. By 2012 it seemed that even the red button core proposition was being chipped away: the promise of ‘up to two video streams’ quickly became one. In October 2012 the multi-video streaming technology which had been the innovative centre-piece of the 2001 Wimbledon interactive coverage was abruptly removed from Red Button on Sky, FreeSat and Virgin media, to be replaced by a single stream. Tom Williams was the Development Editor for BBC Red Button within BBC Vision and wrote a blog at the time: ‘the reduction in video streams will have an impact; we won’t be able to offer the choice of coverage we have previously and big events will no longer be multiscreen on red button. This will be a disappointment for many viewers, particularly sports fans’ (Williams, 2012). The BBC Red Button had been offering viewers play-along games for years. One of the most popular was the Antiques Roadshow game where users could pitch themselves against the experts and guess the value of the antiques which

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featured on the TV programme. In January 2013 the BBC introduced the Antiques Roadshow play-along app for mobiles and tablet computers. It was one of the BBC’s first forays into dedicated companion apps for a second screen experience. In 2012 Victoria Jaye, head of IPTV and TV Online Content at BBC Vision, gave a presentation to the Connected TV summit in London. She explained the BBC ‘editorial approach to companion experiences is threefold: build on existing audience needs and behaviour, go beyond broadcast, drive creative renewal and innovation’ (Jaye, 2012). Yet the Antiques Roadshow app was decommissioned within just two years. It was, perhaps, the first sign that the BBC had decided to move away from dedicated second screen companion apps. The Antiques Roadshow play-along game went back to being available only on the Red Button, although it still remained popular: between two and three million people engaged with it over a series. Even so, BBC Red Button looked on whilst money and resources were directed elsewhere. By the summer of 2015, the BBC had cancelled play-along games on Red Button altogether. In the autumn of the same year, it announced it would explore closing the Red Button itself as part of a cost-cutting exercise in response to the 2015/16 BBC Charter Renewal process. Until this uncertain end, Red Button services at the BBC have remained in high demand particularly with older audience groups. Other channels in the UK had abandoned Red Button interactive services years before the BBC. Channel 4 announced it would shut down Red Button in 2006 when Andy Duncan, Channel 4’s Chief Executive, described it as ‘clunky and inefficient’ at the Oxford Media Convention (cited in Deans, 2006). By the end of the same year Channel 4 launched 4oD and became the first UK broadcaster to make all of its home-grown programmes available On Demand. ‘The launch of 4oD positions Channel 4 at the global cutting edge of the convergence of television and the web’ said Andy Duncan (Channel 4 Press Release, 2006). Until 2011 Sky had hosted the Red Button infrastructure for other broadcasters like ITV. This had been an interactive platform for transactional services, competitions and voting within shows like the X Factor (ITV, 2004–). Sky took the decision to stop the service due to a fall in customer demand. As a result, ITV also had to withdraw its red button provision at the same time. The emergence of mobile second screen activity was partly responsible for this shift: viewers were increasingly using their phones and tablets to participate in TV shows. At the BBC, by contrast, Red Button continued as the corporation’s primary interactive platform until 2016. Partly as a result of this, the BBC’s investment in dedicated second screen interactive projects has been relatively small compared to its commercial rivals. The BBC’s Red Button service had one significant drawback when it came to interactive potential: there was no return channel. This meant that there was no possible way for viewer activity to have an impact on the content or narrative of a show itself. Within the BBC’s Red Button, TV remained simply a ‘Push Technology’ and there


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could be no genuine two-way, push-and-pull participation. ‘A lot of the time “interactive TV” just became: how do you use extra bandwidth to push more stuff at the consumer?’ says Mark Goodchild. One BBC programme did have a synchronised companion app: the entertainment show The Voice (BBC, 2012–2016). Sarah Clay was the BBC commissioning editor on the show and explains why the second screen app was developed in preference to the Red Button: ‘there is no return path on red button’ Clay says, ‘we couldn’t reflect back what everybody else thought and that was quite a key thing to be able to say: this is what you think and this is what everybody else thinks’ (author interview, July 2015).

The growth of social television Since the moment television started broadcasting, people have always socialised around its programmes. The notion of ‘social TV’ goes further than this: it lies in the formation of distinct communities around television and its content. As we will see in following chapters, this social aspect generates feelings of inclusion and identity and is a central motivation for TV viewing in itself. The emergence of the internet in the 1990s gave TV viewers the perfect platform to discuss and bond over their favourite programmes. At first this was dominated by the passionate fans of science fiction shows. Back in 1993, the same year the Mosaic web browser was rolled out, fans of The X-Files (FOX, 1993–2002) created an online forum for like-minded souls to congregate. The show was a perfect incubator for this new social phenomenon: this was a drama where mystery and conspiracy were the central themes. The fan comments created an online mythology around the programme. Where The X-Files led the way: so other shows followed. For broadcasters and TV networks, the challenge became what to do with them. As Denise Mann outlines ‘fans were initially regarded by the networks as harmless annoyances, once they started using blogs, wikis, video sharing, Facebook and other digital resources, the networks were forced to take notice’ (Mann, 2014, p.11). There is, of course, a crucial difference between interacting with others about a TV show and participating with a programme itself. However, sometimes a feedback loop does emerge from this type of online social engagement and viewers have been able to affect the actual narrative of a programme. For this to happen the social discussion needs to exert an influence (consciously or unconsciously) on the makers of a TV show. As we will see in the following chapters, this type of feedback loop is generated around those TV programmes with a significant social buzz like The Only Way is Essex (ITV, 2010–). The rise and fall of TV check-in services From 2004, the notion of a new upgraded internet emerged which was christened: Web 2.0. This so-called second generation of web use emphasised

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social sharing over search engines when it came to online discovery. It marked the beginning of a flourishing of online social TV engagement as viewers embraced new social media networks. In the following years several companies were set up in an attempt to harness the commercial power of this burgeoning phenomenon. In the US firms attracted venture capitalist funding to create dedicated websites, and later mobile apps, to act as a hub and forum for online TV communities. GetGlue was one of the first and most successful of these. It was founded in 2007 and launched its website in October 2009. Users had to register to the site and create a profile when they joined. They were then presented with a list of TV shows and asked to ‘like’ ten of them. As Proulx and Shepatin (2012) state, GetGlue used ‘the principles of the semantic Web’ to analyse its user data and to create individual profiles. It wasn’t until June 2010 and the launch of the GetGlue app that the company’s story ‘truly began to take off’ (2012, p.62). The app prompted users to say what they were doing at that particular moment and one of the choices was ‘Watching TV’. A list of trending TV programmes followed and people were invited to press a large button which enabled them to ‘check-in’ to a particular programme. GetGlue also encouraged people to connect their profiles to their Facebook and Twitter accounts so that they could cross-post comments, share their opinions and advertise when they had checked in to particular TV shows. It was a very pro-active and social second screen activity. By March 2011 GetGlue was boasting 1 million users: averaging at one ‘check-in’ every second. According to CEO Alex Iskold, ‘During primetime, 3% to 20% of tweets about shows are coming from GetGlue’ (Bergman, 2011). The company also boasted 100 million data points: each point equivalent to a check-in, a share, a comment or a ‘like’. Such user data was a crucial part of the business case for companies like GetGlue. In 2011 it launched a new business dashboard which enabled advertisers, marketing agencies and TV production companies to pay for access to track user statistics. GetGlue moved beyond a simple TV check-in service too: it started to reward its users with branded stickers whenever they reached a required number of check-ins. At one stage in the history of GetGlue there were nearly 3,000 stickers available, all of them created through partnerships between GetGlue and TV networks. At first GetGlue’s activities had been confined to America, but in July 2011 the company announced its first international partnership with Channel 4 in the UK. E4 viewers would be offered unique, collectible stickers and rewards for some of the channel’s top shows including: Skins, Misfits and a new drama series Beaver Falls. According to Channel 4, ‘E4 viewers will also be able to level up and unlock fan and superfan stickers for checking in through the season’ (Channel 4 Press Release, 2011). Not only was this social engagement a way to attract young people but it also ensured that viewers were incentivised to stay engaged for the duration of a series. The language used by Channel 4, calling on fans to ‘level up’ comes directly from


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the lexicon of gaming culture. It’s one signpost that the convergence between TV and mobile platforms also involves the patterns and principles of mobile game-playing too. We will see the ‘gamification’ of the second screen user experience as a theme that weaves throughout this book. GetGlue wasn’t the only player in this new social TV marketplace: IntoNow, Tunerfish and Playphilo were some of many companies competing against each other. Another firm, Miso, launched just a few months before GetGlue’s iPhone app was introduced. Miso was even more explicit about turning TV viewing and sharing into a ‘social entertainment game’ (Proulx, Shepatin, 2012. p.66). It modelled itself on the new social media app Foursquare which enabled people to check-in to a particular location. Viewers could search for individual episodes of programmes and a chatter tab showed comments and viewer ratings for each show. Social TV enjoyed its place in the sun for a few short years, but for most companies it wasn’t to last. A number of factors colluded in the eventual slowdown: first the market became saturated with too many companies trying to do the same thing. The social TV startups had to be consolidated. In November 2013 GetGlue was taken over by another US company i.TV which then went on a spending spree of second screen providers. Next it aggregated the audiences of GetGlue, DirecTV and the Nintendo TVii on to one dedicated social TV destination: TVtag. At the time i.TV said this would give TVtag a total reach of nearly ten million users. TVtag was more than a check-in service as users were encouraged to ‘tag’ key moments in TV programmes and leave comments, doodles and memes. However, it didn’t really catch on and i.TV decided to abandon TVtag itself in December 2014. The decision was announced in an email to employees which read: ‘Breaking Bad. Lost. The Office. Friends. Good things come to an end … While this is goodbye for now, we hope to say hello again soon. Until then, join the conversation about your favourite shows by following the tvtag Twitter accounts’ (TVtag email, 2014). Twitter As this email suggests, one crucial reason why check-in services ran aground was because people preferred to socialise about TV on more mainstream social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. In part this was an organic movement: users preferred to concentrate all their online social activity around a few mainstream networks. Added to this, the big social media sites made a concerted effort to engage with the social TV market. Twitter itself introduced ‘TV targeting’, which provided broadcasters and advertisers with much the same audience usage data that they’d been getting from smaller companies. According to Twitter: TV targeting allows networks and brands to promote Tweets to people engaged with specific TV shows, before, during and after a telecast. TV

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targeting makes it easy for TV networks and brands to easily promote Tweets to people engaged with specific TV shows. (Twitter Business, 2016) If the crucial period of 2009–2012 can be seen as a battle of the new social TV startups, then Twitter, the big beast, beat them all at their own game. As Gene Liebel, founder of Work & Co, states: ‘Twitter is the only real secondscreen TV app for now’ (cited in Marshall, 2013). Tom McDonnell, CEO of the digital agency Monterosa, isn’t surprised by the failure of the majority of social TV firms: ‘It was VC (Venture Capitalist) driven’, he says: It was based on a theorem and a load of research but basically no founding in entertainment. In entertainment people want authenticity and personality and those consumer apps were dry and lacking real integration with the subjects they were covering. (Tom McDonnell, author interview, June 2015) Viggle and Zeebox A small number of social TV companies did survive the cull but they had to evolve to survive this new complex marketplace. Miso was taken over by the tech firm Dijit which launched the NextGuide iPad app in September 2012. In turn, Dijit was bought out by Viggle which invested in and expanded the NextGuide second screen app. Instead of a check-in service this combined the search functions of an EPG with embedded social links, live streaming and hyper-personalised TV recommendations. A reminder button enabled the app to gather distinct data on each of its users. This, according to Viggle, meant the entertainment industry would be able ‘to efficiently spend and target promotional budgets and collect exponentially more and better data about actual audiences than ever before’ (Viggle, 2016). Viewers in the UK had always been reluctant to adopt ‘check-in’ services and sticker rewards in the same way as American audiences. It is unsurprising, then, that most of the social TV startups at this time were US companies. Zeebox, however, was a notable exception to this. Created in October 2011, Zeebox combined being a social TV platform with personalised search capabilities. In 2012 BSkyB bought a stake in the company and in doing so gave it a place at the table of big league broadcasters in the UK and America. In 2014 Zeebox changed its name to Beamly and the emphasis shifted again. According to founder Anthony Rose, We had a dream which was to create participation TV: instead of just sitting and watching, you would interact with the show. But to build


The evolution of interactive TV that, we needed a TV guide so you could find shows and sort the guide by what was popular and buzzing. (cited in Dredge, 2014)

In the summer of 2015 Beamly wanted to be the central forum for social interaction around the Eurovision Song Contest. To this end it created dedicated pages for each country and designed special polls and quizzes around the event for second screen viewers. The company claimed nine million ‘engagements’ during the show which it said was more than the 5.38 million tweets that were posted on Twitter. According to Beamly’s chief content officer Juliette Otterburn-Hall at the time: ‘This staggering level of engagement demonstrates growing appetite from the public to be part of an immersive, community-led platform around TV’ (, 2015). However, an ‘engagement’ on Beamly is not the same thing as posting a tweet on Twitter. An engagement could refer to a vote in a quiz, ‘liking’ shared content or writing an online comment. Here we are getting into an emerging industry debate around second screen activity: how do you put a consistent value on audience engagement?

Fifteen years of change 2001 was a golden year for innovation and experimentation in television: a year when the excitement of interactivity fizzled in production meetings across the UK. It was a time with a confluence of ideal conditions: British TV viewers had embraced digital television and expected new innovations to come with the TV experience. Audiences had grown accustomed to interactive possibilities through their use of the internet. And digital TV text-based services – which had evolved out of Teletext and Ceefax – were ripe for development. It was the year that Channel 4 partnered up with the BBC to produce the first Celebrity Big Brother in aid of Sport Relief, ITV Digital was created, and Ofcom – a new super regulator for the TV industry – was conceived. In 2001 the economy was booming and key events like the General Election and Wimbledon created a buzz of excitement. By 2010 the environment was very different: the UK was in recession following the financial crisis, advertising budgets were slashed and the proliferation of digital TV meant that TV advertising was spread thinly among hundreds of new channels. In October 2010, the Chancellor announced that the BBC licence fee was to be frozen for six years. Investment in new, untried and experimental interactive projects stalled in both the public service and commercial sectors. Priorities moved away from interactive engagement and shifted towards streaming and on-demand services. Yet the demand and enthusiasm of audiences to engage and participate with television programmes remained. Independent digital companies began to emerge which specialised in developing enhanced content as well as synchronised TV companion apps. And all the while

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viewers used their second screen to go online to discuss, debate and engage with TV in increasing numbers.

Bibliography Barrett, J.P., Hammond, M.E. and Jolly, S.J.E. (2011) The Universal Control API Version 0.6.0. BBC Research White Paper. WHP 193. June 2011. BBC News (June 2001) BBC Interactive a big hit. Available at: BBC News (7 November 2001) BBCi heralds new interactive era. Available at: BBC News (15 November 2001) Interacting with beasts. Available at: http://news. BBC Press Release (1999) Sub Zero Live on BBC 2. BBC Press Office. Available at: BBC Press Release (November 2008) BBC’s Red Button celebrates its 10th anniversary. BBC Press Office: New Media. Available at: pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/11_november/06/button.shtml BBC Trust (2010) Service Review: BBC Red Button. Available at: http://downloads. service_reviews/red_button/red_button_final.pdf Bergman, C. (2011) TV Check-in app GetGlue hits 1 million users. Lost Remote: Social TV. Available at: BT Archives (1995) Events in Telecommunications History. Available at: http:// Channel 4 Press Release (2006) Channel 4 launches 4oD Video-On-Demand Service. Channel 4 Press Office. Available at: channel-4-launches-4oD-video-on-demand-service Channel 4 Press Release (2011) Channel 4 partners with GetGlue. Available at: Deans, J. (2006) Channel 4 switches off red button. The Guardian. Available at: (2015) Beamly claims higher Eurovision engagement than Twitter. Available at: Dredge, S. (2014) Social TV app Zeebox relaunches as Beamly to lose ‘male geeky’ image. The Guardian. Available at: apr/14/zeebox-beamly-social-tv-app Gawlinski, M. (2003) Interactive Television Production. Oxford: Taylor & Francis. Jautz, S. (2014) Who speaks and who is addressed in radio phone-ins? Journal of Pragmatics, 72: 18–30. Jaye, V. (2012) Making great TV even better: The BBC’s approach to companion experiences. Presentation to 2012 Connected TV Summit, London. BBC Internet Blog. Available at: tv_even_better_th.html Jensen, J. (2001) The concept of ‘Interactivity’. In Jensen, F. and Toscan, C., Interactive Television. Denmark: Aalborg University Press.


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Jensen, J. (2005) Interactive television: new genres, new format, new content. In Pisan, Y. (Ed.) (2005) The Second Australian Conference on Interactive Entertainment. Sydney: Creativity and Cognition Studios Press, University of Technology. Kilborn, R. (2003) Staging the Real: Factual TV Programming in the Age of Big Brother. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Mann, D. (2014) Wired TV: Laboring over an Interactive Future. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. Marshall, J. (2013) Social TV War Ends, Twitter Wins. Available at: Nicoll, D. (2001) As viewers become consumer-users. In Jensen, F. and Toscan, C., Interactive Television. Denmark: Aalborg University Press. Nolan, S. (2002) iDTV gamers: the emergence of a new community? In Mäyrä, F. (ed.) Proceedings of Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference. Tampere: Tampere University Press. Proulx, M. and Shepatin, S. (2012) Social TV. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. TVTag (2014) Good things come to an end. Staff email posted on GetGlue/TVTag Facebook page. Available at: 6404972583 Twitter Business (2016) TV Targeting. Available at: help/tv-targeting Viggle (2016) NextGuide Overview. Available at: Wilkes, N. (2001) Sky News claims interactive success. Digital Spy. Available at: Williams, R. and Black, R.S. (1999) Europe Appropriates Multimedia: A Study of the National Uptake of Multimedia in Eight European Countries and Japan. Norwegian University of Science and Technology – Information Technology. Williams, T. (2012) Changes to BBC Red Button. BBC Internet Blog. Available here:


Recasting the active audience

The history and evolution of interactive television tracks the ebb and flow of viewer agency. As media content has converged online, the UK broadcast industry diversified into a number of related but distinct business models. The old TV set in the corner now has a number of rivals in the new multiscreen living room. Across each of these broadcast platforms, the nature of the power and control exerted by the viewer is varied. For example, OTT streaming services like Amazon and Netflix, present users with a sometimes dizzying array of programmes which enable them to binge-watch their favourite shows. In this case the power afforded to the viewer can be classified as individual choice and it meets a clear consumer demand. As Matt Brittin, head of Google in Europe, argues: ‘w.w.w. now stands for ‘What We Want, Where We Want and When We Want’ (Brittin, 2015). Watching television is both an inherently personal experience as well as a social, even global, group activity. The proliferation of mobile platforms means there are now many more ways to watch video content and, correspondingly, there are numerous audience motivations that lie behind these various activities. The desire for second screen interaction, for example, is different to the wish to be immersed in a long-running TV drama serial. This chapter explores these various TV viewing patterns and examines their impact on established theories of media reception, social rituals, viewer motivations and audience activity.

Active audiences The dichotomy between the active and passive audience has been the subject of lively debate within media studies for years. The argument itself appeared largely resolved in the 1970s when the so-called hypodermic syringe was metaphorically cast into the waste bin of outdated media reception theories. But now, as technology has brought about new patterns of viewing, some of these old concepts have been reclaimed, recast and have entered the lexicon of the TV and advertising industries anew. For example, Brian McHarg, the technical director of the Chunk Media agency, says that for broadcasters the value of second screen viewing ‘really lies in rolling engagement, filling in


Recasting the active audience

the gaps between broadcast and keeping people active in the format or the brand’ (author interview, October 2015, my emphasis). Audience activity is a concept that’s mentioned again and again by industry figures, often referring to viewers who are taking part in an engaged and ‘lean-forward experience’. Certainly second screen use presupposes a new type of audience activity. But what about viewing TV dramas? Many commentators have likened the process of viewing long-running dramas like The Soprano’s (HBO 1999–2007), The Wire (HBO, 2002–2008) and Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008–2013) to be more akin to the activity of reading a novel in terms of character development, narrative arcs and reader commitment. Jason Mittell (2006) examines highly developed narrative complexity in drama programmes and argues ‘television’s narrative complexity is predicated on specific facets of storytelling that seem uniquely suited to the series structure that sets television apart from film’ (p.29). Such in-depth and complicated plots, then, require active and engaged audiences to make sense of them. As Janet Murray states: ‘When we enter a fictional world, we do not merely “suspend” a critical faculty; we also exercise a creative faculty. We do not suspect disbelief so much as we actively create belief’ (1997, p.110). This notion of an ‘active’ audience is used to describe the manner in which viewers respond to, and interpret, a media text. However, as Tincknell and Raghuram (2002, p.201) argue, the term may need to be ‘reconfigured’ as a result of interactive narrative forms: the development of new kinds of ‘interactive’ media texts also makes the idea of the active audience newly interesting because it suggests that such audiences may go beyond simply responding to a text – they may also help to change it. There is a difference between active participation in a text and the formation of meaning from a text. Many in the TV industry consider watching TV drama, for example, to be a passive experience. Audiences willingly sacrifice a degree of agency in order to become wholly involved and immersed in the narrative of a good drama. As we will explore later in the book, interactive experiments around scripted drama have largely been unsuccessful: too often the second screen is an unwelcome distraction to the primary viewing experience and not a welcome enhancement to it. The success of second screen activity depends, first and foremost, on the motivation of the viewer. Uses and Gratifications Why do people watch TV? It’s a simple question that does not, unfortunately, have a straightforward answer. For about 50 years, researchers and academics conducted studies to categorise the motivations behind TV viewing in an informal theoretical model known as Uses and Gratifications. The framework moved away from long-established media effects theories

Recasting the active audience


(which examined the impact media had on individuals) and focused instead on what audiences do with media content itself. It put the TV viewer at the centre of research (as opposed to the media message itself or the production process). In 1974 Blumler and Katz applauded the early pioneers of U&G research and insisted that audience motivations and needs ‘deserved as much attention in their own right as the persuasive aims of communicators with which so many of the early “effects” studies had been preoccupied’ (1974, p.28). They argued an ‘elaborate paradigm’ was needed (p.269) and to this end researchers constructed lists which categorised the motivations, uses and gratifications of different groups of TV viewers. Audience samples were broken down in terms of age and gender and people were also analysed from a psychological and social perspective. In 1972, McQuail, Blumler and Brown proposed a typology of audience motivations which consisted of the following categories: ‘diversion (including escape from the constraints of routine and the burdens of problems, and emotional release); personal relationships (including substitute companionship as well as social utility); personal identity (including personal reference, reality exploration, and value reinforcement); and surveillance’ (Blumler & Katz, 1974, p.23). Along the same broad principles, U&G researchers asked audience members to rate the importance of 35 personal needs and whether they were gratified by the output of various mass media. Their long list can be broken down into five general needs: cognitive (the need for knowledge, information and understanding), affective (emotional and pleasure), personal integrative (the need for credibility and status), social integration (identity and belonging) and tension release (Katz et al., 1973). It should be stated here that these needs might be satisfied not only by the content of television programmes themselves but also by the process and routine of watching television. Over the years this typology has evolved as successive generations of academics and researchers adapted and refined the lists. Categories have come and gone, the definitions of motivations have altered and the tone of the analysis has changed too. Back in the 1970s some of the contributors to The Uses of Mass Communication were dismissive about the pleasures that television afforded. William McGuire described the ‘gratification offered’ by television viewing as ‘illusory’ and ‘pitiful’. But, he conceded, they were ‘better than the alternatives offered in the real life of quiet desperation which many members of the public endure’ (cited in Blumler & Katz, 1974, p.169). Uses and Gratifications has been a resilient and oft-cited framework in media research. Many of its conclusions seem self-evident, even obvious, from the outset. Yet the family of theories that sit under the Uses and Gratifications umbrella have endured because they are flexible and can adapt to changing circumstances. As new programme formats have been developed, as new technologies have emerged and as new generations of TV audiences have altered their viewing behaviour, so the typology of uses and gratifications has been able to adapt.


Recasting the active audience

There are indirect links between the motivations of viewers and advancements in television technologies since the 1970s. Firstly as televisions have become cheaper and more convenient, TV has become more popular as a medium for entertainment. Increasing numbers of viewers have resulted in a greater diversity in their reasons for viewing. Technological advancements in broadcast and production have meant a wider variety of programmes have been commissioned and produced. Traditional TV genres have been split up, like biological cells dividing in two, to beget sub-genres. With a greater diversity of programmes on offer, the more varied the motivations for watching have become. For example, surveillance is listed in Blumler’s typology back in 1972. Think, then, what he might say about the opportunities for surveillance (and voyeurism) afforded by reality TV programmes like Big Brother from the year 2000 and onwards. Second screen activity around programmes like Big Brother adds another dimension in terms of user motivations. Not only does a smaller interactive screen enable greater control of the surveillance cameras (literally) but it also satisfies a user’s desire to participate in the dynamics of the programme by voting and socialising (from the comfort and anonymity of their couches). The established idea of an active audience doesn’t accommodate the various new developments in motivation. Instead a new concept of a proactive user may be needed for second screen engagement. Here the motivations of the user may have more in common with a video game player than a traditional TV viewer. Within the study of game design, the notion of user agency has a different emphasis. Janet Murray (1997) writes: ‘Agency is the satisfying power to take meaningful action and see the results of our decisions and choices’ (p.126). The pro-active user desires participation and has the will to change and influence media content. These are some of the primary driving forces behind second screen interaction. It means that some of the old mainstay motivations of TV consumption are slipping away into the wings of irrelevance whilst others are moving centre stage. It’s time then to examine the classic U&G framework of needs through the lens of contemporary social and interactive TV. The need for information Traditional studies often cite news and factual programmes when analysing the need or desire for information and understanding in television viewing. It harks back to the journalist-as-gatekeeper model of news-flow and mass media communication (Isaacs, 1995). However, the presence of a second screen enables and encourages viewers to be more discerning and sceptical in their consumption of news. Much of this is explicit encouragement which comes directly from the programme makers themselves. Channel 4 News, for example, recently launched an online and mobile service called Factcheck. It enabled viewers to use the second screen to examine the validity of statements made by politicians and other figures in the news whilst they

Recasting the active audience


were watching the evening programme. This encouragement to doubt (and explore other outlets for information) comes also from friends and peers interacting on social media sites. One study into the reasons people use Facebook ‘found that information seeking topped other motives regarding Facebook use’. However, here, for the most part, the information being sought was ‘learning about their friends’ or ‘to obtain information needed for socialization’ (Kwon et al., 2013, p.39). The desire for social integration Watching television has always been a social experience: it’s one of the key needs highlighted in early U&G research. The motivation comes from a desire to belong and a feeling of identity and community. For many households this centred around the family coming together in the living room to enjoy a shared experience in watching TV. In this way, television has power ‘as an entertainment medium, a stimulator of political reflection, and a cultural reference point’ (Lull, 1990, p.144). Murray (2012) has argued that the growth of internet use has had a perceived negative effect on the social aspect of TV: ‘More recently computers have been blamed for disrupting the shared ritual of family TV viewing’ (p.37). Similarly, as TV itself moves online (via streaming and VOD services) and as digital TV channels proliferate, families are less likely to converge around a single programme and share in a single viewing experience. Added to this, TV viewing itself is becoming more mobile: every year smart phones and tablets are increasing their share of ‘eyeball’ time and this makes it more likely that the TV viewing experience will become a solitary pastime. It’s a concern that Katz (2009) highlights in ‘The End of Television’: ‘The television of “sharedness” – of nation-building and family togetherness – is no longer with us, having made room for a television of hundreds of channels, or “niche” broadcasting, of portability’ (p.7). Katz, one of the key figures in the U&G debate, seems to be mourning one of the most enjoyable and significant aspects of TV viewing: ‘television is retracing the footsteps of radio, which, miniaturised and modulated, has now become everyman’s personal companion’ he writes, ‘where, to exaggerate, no two people are attending the same program at the same time’ (Katz, 2009, p.7). This is where second screen activity differs from other forms of mobile TV consumption. In fact, some dual-screen interactive platforms have been developed precisely to promote a new ideal of ‘sharedness’ in viewing. Second screen engagement works best during live, appointment-to-view, event TV: the likes of which will not be found on Netflix or Amazon Prime. These are broadcast events which are designed to bring families together in one space (albeit in front of two or more screens instead of one). Companion apps, often launched around big entertainment shows, have been created to be a focal point of group interaction. This is something that the broadcast regulator Ofcom has identified in its media surveys. ‘We have looked at


Recasting the active audience

media meshing where somebody may be sitting with their smartphone or tablet in front of them, watching the TV and also doing something related to the TV programme on their portable device or their second screen,’ says Jane Rumble, head of media research at Ofcom. ‘These portable devices have enabled a renewed social aspect of coming together for those who are in families’ (author interview, October 2015). The social aspect of TV is not just about fostering a sense of community and connection with people in the same room. The challenge to Katz’s argument is this: thousands of people – if not millions – are ‘attending the same program at the same time’, they’re just not doing it in the same physical space. Even before the development of the internet, geographically disparate viewers would still come together and socialise over a TV programme. It’s become known as ‘water-cooler television’, a place where colleagues and friends can shirk work commitments for a few moments to discuss the previous night’s TV offerings. The concept fast became a panacea for programme makers desperate to create the ‘talk-about-TV’ moment and create a social buzz around a programme long before online social networks appeared. Social television, before media convergence and online interaction, had two significant prerequisites: firstly social networks needed to be already established. People could only easily socialise with others they already knew. The second factor was that the interaction had to happen after the programme aired. Now viewers are increasingly using their second screens to debate television on social media sites in real time whilst the programme is being broadcast. This social engagement has been dubbed the social ‘backchannel’ by authors Mike Proulx and Stacey Shepatin (2012) who write: ‘There is no doubt that social media amplifies the feeling of being connected and part of something bigger when watching television’ (p.14). The second screen gives users the ability to (virtually) shout at the TV screen or whoop in delight as if they were in a crowded room of like-minded people. It saves television viewing from being the solitary, lonely experience that Katz feared. Instead it reimagines it as a shared experience with both a real and a virtual community: Afterall, as some have observed, ‘The internet [is] the water-cooler of the new millennium’ (Ross, 2008, p.9). Social capital Is a virtual community as strong and as binding as one in the real, physical world? Social capital is a concept which comes from the relationships and interactions of individuals embedded in a group. It is the social glue that keeps people together. According to Robert Putnam (2001), online networks are inadequate for developing and harnessing social capital. Firstly, he argues, we lose the contextual information that face-to-face contact brings. Aside from this, he says, the technology acts as a barrier to stop people with diverse opinions from getting together. This is part of what he calls

Recasting the active audience


‘cyberbalkanisation’: where people have a tendency to be inward looking and are not easily exposed to other ideas and views outside their group: ‘Real-world interactions often force us to deal with diversity, whereas the virtual world may be more homogeneous, not in demographic terms, but in terms of interest and outlook’ (2001, p.178). Lastly, Putnam suggests, online activity is focused more on entertainment than on information. He laments television itself as one of the reasons for weaker social ties alongside longer working hours and creeping suburbanization. However, according to Gubbins: ‘Putnam mistakes physical isolation for social isolation. The truth is, we’re gathering together more than ever, just not physically’ (Gubbins, 2015). The passage of time may play a part in this dispute as online communications have become faster, cheaper and more interactive since 2001. Social networks are now popular platforms for informal interactions as Rich Ling (2007) describes: ‘Putnam has been critiqued in that he does not pay enough heed to informal interaction. Rather, he sees a demise of social capital largely, but not exclusively, from declining participation in formal organisations’ (p.152). There have been a number of research studies which look at the use of social media sites (SMS) within the realm of Uses and Gratifications theories. The various conclusions may also apply to social TV motivations on the second screen. The studies focus, largely, on these informal, often brief, social connections. Researchers have highlighted two types of social capital: Bridging social capital refers to ‘weak ties representing loose social connections’ whereas Bonding social capital is ‘found between individuals in tight-knit and emotionally close relationships’ (Kwon et al., 2013, p.36). Each category has its positive and negative associations: ‘Bonding social capital not only acts as a social glue, building trust, and norms within groups but also potentially increasing intolerance and distrust of out-group members’ whereas ‘Bridging social capital allows different groups to share and exchange information, resources, and help coordinate action across diverse interests’ (Sajuria et al., 2014, p.3). According to one study on the motivations of social media use, ‘the social relations motive was positively and significantly associated with bridging social capital’ (Kwon et al., 2013, p.41). Here the motives of the pro-active user seem to be rooted in nurturing, enlarging and fostering a wider network. It’s this informal network that exposes people to new ideas, events, groups, and people and works against Putnam’s notion of ‘cyberbalkanisation’. Second screen users are social creatures by nature. Much of the backchannel discussion around TV happens in real time on sites like Facebook and Twitter. As a result the social motivations are likely to be the same as those identified around bridging social capital. Second screen use encourages and enhances TV viewing as a social experience. ‘Social Television is a direct challenge to the idea that television is an anti-social, privatising, lower-class, lounge-lizard, couch surfing, domestic, household activity’ (Goggin, 2011, p.95).


Recasting the active audience

Personal integrative needs According to Uses and Gratifications theories, the Personal Integrative need is closely aligned to social integration (Katz et al., 1973). As the name suggests, it is focused on personal identity and suggests that people watch television to gain credibility and status. This might include keeping up to date with trends as well as social gossip. Television adverts play an important part in this for viewers who feel a desire to purchase a particular product or adopt a certain lifestyle. For second screen pro-active users this becomes a two-way interaction: on mobile screens users can access information, compare fashions and share ideas in real time. They can comment on, and criticise, the content of a lifestyle show and have their voice heard in the show’s social backchannel. Viewers can have a fashion makeover by Gok Wan, for example, take part in a science experiment on BBC Autumnwatch or post a comment to the BBC Question Time Twitter feed. If one of the motivations of television viewing is status and confidence then second screen participation takes this to a new level. Users can have near-immediate impact and often they can see the effect of their choices within the programme itself. Many have used interactive social engagement as an opportunity to raise their own profile and create a following on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. Within the second screen, the U&G concept of status and personal identity is affirmed by social media followers, likes, favourites and retweets. Some audience members can choose to take this even further, going beyond commentating and interacting, by becoming content creators themselves. The proportion of audience members who take the leap to become ‘creators’ is growing annually. For some, this might involve taking photos or amateur videos (known as User Generated Content) which are sent in to a broadcaster and may then be used as part of a television programme. Other viewers take this to an extreme and create their own shows and channels on TV streaming platforms like A new generation of hugely popular YouTubers is turning the industry on its head. Zoella is one of the most famous and popular in the UK: created by Zoe Sugg (born in 1990) her channel focused at first on fashion and beauty tips. Since then she has ventured into novel writing and has appeared on BBC programmes as a celebrity guest. Simon Lane and Lewis Bradley are two others in the top ten of UK YouTubers with their channel – Yogscast – focused on video gaming. As of 2016, a YouTuber named Pewdiepie has raked up more than 42 million subscribers and nearly ten billion video views on his YouTube channel. Pewdiepie is a Swedish man based in Brighton who started vlogging about computer games and now makes comical videos about his own lifestyle. ‘The audience on his videos love it’ says Matt Brittin from Google Europe, ‘it’s what they consider to be quality’ (Brittin, 2015). Together Zoella, Yogscast and Pewdiepie exemplify an elite cast of proactive users. For them media engagement goes beyond social status and

Recasting the active audience


personal identity: they have become icons, authority figures and experts in their field to a very dedicated community of fans and followers. Their engagement with digital TV platforms has turned professional (with all the trappings of profile, fame and wealth). It is measured in terms of millions of TV channel subscribers and monetised by advertising and sponsorship.

Para-social interaction The concept of para-social interaction is also focused on the various motivations of media audiences. It originates in the 1950s and predates the founding work on Uses and Gratifications. It’s a well-established notion that sits in an overlap between media theory and psychology. Para-social Interaction (PSI) examines the emotional and psychological relationship that some viewers develop with people and characters on television. According to Horton and Wohl, ‘The interaction, characteristically, is onesided, nondialectical, controlled by the performer, and not susceptible of mutual development’ (1956, p.215). It might be that a viewer feels an affinity with a character in a drama or believes they have a close bond with a TV presenter. Yet, according to the theory, despite what audience members might feel about the strength and meaning of the connection, the interaction is not a genuine two-sided relationship: PSI is but a ‘simulacrum of conversational give and take’ (Horton & Wohl, 1956, p.215). Despite this, to the viewers themselves, the encounters seem to be ‘immediate, personal, and reciprocal’ (Horton & Strauss, 1957, p.580). Para-social interactions are particularly strong with audiences of scripted drama programmes, particularly soap operas, where emotional bonds are ignited and reinforced over time, creating long-term relationships with TV characters and personalities (Rubin et al., 1985). In 1987 one study focused on an audience’s relationship with characters from a daytime soap opera. It was carried out within the framework of a Uses and Effects investigation which ‘examined the role of motives, attitudes, and activities in affective, cognitive, and behavioural involvement with that content’ (Rubin & Perse, 1987, p.247). The formation and ongoing development of a para-social relationship was one of the key motivations behind media consumption. Some viewers tuned in because they had created a relationship with characters on screen and they wanted to prolong and sustain the interaction. ‘Encouraged by conversational manner, interpersonal style, and media production techniques, viewers may react interpersonally to television personae and feel they “know” the characters the way they know their friends’ (Rubin & Perse, 1987, p.248). In 1979 Mark Levy conducted a study of older adults and US local television news programmes. Levy organised focus groups and questioned them about their connection with the newscasters. He used the data to develop a psychometric scale with 42 categories to determine the strength of PSI. This, in turn, developed into a series of instructions for presenters and


Recasting the active audience

actors who wanted to maximise their emotional impact on the audience. ‘A TV performer’s body posture and the direction of his or her face and eyes, as well as verbal inclusions of the audience, are crucial for the initiation and maintenance of viewers’ para-social experiences’ (Hartmann & Goldhoorn, 2011, p.1116). A PSI index was developed to outline and categorise the attributes and characteristics most likely to enhance and attract para-social interaction. One of these was based on the physical attraction of a TV personality: ‘a greater perceived attractiveness of the TV performer and viewers’ general ability to adopt the perspectives of other people cause more intense para-social experiences’ (Hartmann & Goldhoorn, 2011, p.1116). This links back to arousal as being one of the key motivations for some TV viewers in the Uses and Gratifications paradigm. ‘Imaginary social relationships are characteristic of most societies through history’ (Dibble et al., 2015, p.290). These imaginary interactions, therefore, are not confined to television or media personalities and can involve any stranger or prominent personality viewed from afar. Does second screen engagement change the nature of these PSI relationships? Let’s examine that initial definition of para-social interaction set out by Horton and Wohl as one-sided and non-dialectical. Second screen TV can be a platform for two-way interaction. It’s now possible, through social media sites and companion apps, for viewers to have live, real-time conversations with TV presenters, actors and celebrities. News programmes in particular actively encourage pro-active users to converse online with presenters and reporters (via Twitter, Periscope or on dedicated news apps). They want their viewers to comment on individual stories, running orders and to contribute questions to interviews and debates. As a result, the relationship with on-screen journalists evolves into a two-sided, dialectical interaction. In these cases second screen activity can transform the parasocial into the social. Some celebrities, too, are known to regularly respond to people on Twitter or other SMS sites. For them social media provides an opportunity to bypass other media outlets and communicate directly with fans. However, there needs to be a note of caution here: it’s not clear exactly how often (or how rarely) these interactions happen. And it’s not always obvious that it’s the genuine celebrity who is responding to tweets (as opposed to a member of their staff). As a result, it’s debatable the extent to which these can be considered authentic, personal interactions. Likewise TV news producers take great care to make sure that any engagement with audience members is kept professional and linked to news. If the interaction becomes personal, it may become a cause for concern and the connection is likely to be blocked or halted. On the other hand, if audience members do develop para-social relationships with characters from a TV drama then, surely, this can be viewed as a success for the scriptwriters and the production team. It means they have created authentic fictional characters within an immersive setting and have conjured up a convincing illusion of reality. As Horton and Wohl

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observed in 1956: ‘the most remote and illustrious men are met as if they were in the circle of one’s peers; the same is true of a character in a story who comes to life in these media in an especially vivid and arresting way’ (p. 215). Superfans and cult viewing As we’ve already seen whilst tracking the evolution of interactive television, fans of TV shows have always come together to form both formal and informal communities and subcultures around their favourite shows often by creating fan groups and attending conventions (Bacon-Smith, 1992; Harrington & Bielby, 1995). In the days before the internet and the emergence of social TV, fans would express their dedication by buying T-shirts, badges and bumper stickers, writing fan mail and producing fanzines. As John Sullivan (2013) highlights: ‘audiences who are initially quite enthusiastic about their chosen media text want to do much more that simply consume the text. They want to share their passion with others’ (p.195). Second screen activity enables fans to do this not only by providing a real-time forum for discussion but also as a platform for enhanced TV which enables them to consume additional, added-value content around their favourite shows. The second screen is able to foster and nurture the passion of TV fans and encourage them to take another step down the path of TV fandom: to become a superfan. As Claire Alexander, Vice President of digital strategy Discovery Comm, states: ‘Our goals across social TV platforms are to encourage premiere tune-ins, to develop community among fans, to reward superfans and to amplify social buzz around our brands and shows’ (Cablefax Daily, 2011). One Canadian company, Affinio, has developed a way of examining the social media backchannel discussion around a TV show to classify fan groups into tribes of viewers. John Gleeson is the VP for Business Development at Affinio: ‘We can understand how the fandom or the passionate group evolves over time’ he says, ‘That’s when you can see the real-time pulse of how fandom is evolving’ (author interview, August 2015). There is another level to ‘superfandom’ beyond enhanced TV and social engagement. Superfans, by their nature, are not often content to be mere consumers of media content: they want to be involved and participate in the process of creation itself. There is something inherent in the definition of a cult text that encourages fan engagement: story lines often contain mysterious unresolved elements. Matt Hills (2002) describes this as the ‘endlessly deferred narrative’: ‘Cult status therefore seems to hinge on a certain “undecidability”, a space for interpretation, speculation and fan effect which cannot be closed down by final “proof” or “fact”’ (2002, p.134). The notion of ‘fan activism’ has emerged as fans have been able to use social platforms to put pressure on – and lobby – producers about the direction of a show or the actions of a particular character. Superfans can also become the harshest critics particularly when perceived programme conventions and traditions


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are breached. As Ross (2008) states, ‘Tensions exist between industry-created sites for interactivity, and viewer created sites focused more “purely” on cultural capital’ (p.76). However, fan activism can be a positive and creative force too. In 2014 one fan of the BBC series Doctor Who decided to have a go at creating his own title sequence for the programme. Billy Hanshaw from Leeds put his graphic sequence up on YouTube where it garnered 60,000 views in the opening weekend. One of those YouTube viewers was Steven Moffat, the executive producer of the show itself, who decided to use the title sequence in the new series of Doctor Who. Iain MacDonald is a former graphics designer at the BBC: ‘His demo was only designed to compliment his professional showreel, in the hope that maybe there would be a few Doctor Who fans out there watching YouTube who would appreciate his vision,’ MacDonald says. ‘These were not in the brand guidelines, but who was the client anyway? The fans, right?’ (MacDonald, 2015). The notion of tele-participation is examined by Sharon Ross (2008) and she breaks the concept down into three categories: overt, obscured and organic. These designations depend on who (or what) instigated the viewer participation at the outset. Overt participation happens when TV producers clearly intend to activate audience interaction. Companion apps and enhanced second screen content would fall into this group. Obscured participation, as the name suggests, has more complicated and hidden origins where the ‘invitation to participate resides primarily in the narrative structure and content of the show itself through a certain messiness that demands viewer unravelling’ (Ross, 2008, p.13). The Organic category occurs when TV shows link into online and social activity that’s already happening: where interactive engagement is created and maintained by audience members themselves. Ross is writing before the revolution in mobile technology and before dual-screening was even conceived. However, this notion of organic participation is crucial when examining the reasons behind the success or failure of second screen experiments. It might be argued, for example, that social TV ‘check-in services’, like GetGlue, eventually closed down in the US because they were seen as TV social networks imposed from above. Organic is a word that resonates with industry figures who have worked in the second screen ecosystem. Kat Hebden, from Fremantle Media, says social engagement around the show X Factor ‘came about organically’ before it was embedded into the app (author interview, June 2015). When Marie James, an executive producer at Channel 4, talks about the success of the interactive project around the reburial of Richard III: ‘It was very organic,’ she says, ‘we were able to capture the sense of excitement and wonder that happened on the streets’ (author interview, August 2015). There is a close connection between fan subcultures and cult TV viewing. Traditionally cult shows, by definition, have limited appeal and a relatively niche audience. Such TV programmes do attract dedicated superfans who can become impassioned to the point of obsession. Harrington and Bielby

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focus on a fan’s ‘emotional psychological and/or behavioural investment in media text’ which relates to issues of ‘community, sociality, self identification, and regularity of consumption’ (2007, p.186). Second screen use engenders many audience members to respond to even mainstream TV shows with the passion of a cult-like fan. As Sharon Ross suggests: ‘We might find that social audiences today engage in activities that relationships with non-cult TV programmes in very “cult-like” ways’ (2008, p.13). In this way, we have come full circle in Uses and Gratifications where personal integrative needs link with social capital motivations to create an impassioned TV superfan.

Coding and decoding TV messages In March 2013 a new programme appeared on Channel 4 called Gogglebox (Channel 4, 2013–). The show turned the concept of viewer surveillance on its head because this was a television programme about people watching television. It was as if a group of media researchers, in the middle of a study of TV viewer responses, decided to abandon their analysis and create a reality TV show instead. The programme broke the confines of established TV formats, it was compelling viewing and it quickly became a hit. Gogglebox reflects old school social TV where the conversations around programmes happen in people’s living rooms. It’s full of strong characters from different sections of society and the cast all respond to the same shows in different ways depending on their personalities as well as their social and cultural backgrounds. However, this notion is also the central tenet of another dominant media theory that predates Gogglebox by decades. Running in parallel to the evolving framework of Uses and Gratifications theories is the idea that various distinct groups of TV viewers receive different (and sometimes opposing) messages when they watch television. It is based, in part, on a research study conducted by David Morley and his team at the University of Birmingham between 1975 and 1979. Morley put together groups of people to watch the programme Nationwide (BBC 1969–83) and analysed ‘how that programme material was interpreted by individuals from different social backgrounds, with a view to establishing the role of cultural frameworks in determining individual interpretations of the programmes’ (1992, p.75). To Morley, the problem with the Uses and Gratifications approach was that it focused ‘exclusively’ on the psychology of the individual audience member and did not examine their place and role in society. ‘What is needed,’ he argued, ‘is an approach which links differential interpretations back to the social-economic structure of society’ (1992, p.88). Morley constructed three categories of audience values in which to place groups of people according to how they interpreted a television programme. The first were those with a dominant value system: a group of viewers who received messages which reinforced the major institutional order and promoted ‘the endorsement of existing inequality’. The second group had a


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subordinate value system: they were the local working class community and promoted ‘accommodative responses to the facts of inequality and low status’. Lastly a radical value system included ‘the mass political party based on the working class’ which promoted ‘an oppositional interpretation of class inequalities’ (1992, p.89). The study had some far reaching consequences because it suggested that no matter what meaning TV producers and journalists intended their stories to have, many viewers would interpret them differently (and even in the opposite way). The theory established the acts of making and watching television as a process of encoding and decoding media messages. Audiences decoded TV content in different ways because TV viewing is ‘an active process of decoding or interpretation’ (Morley, 1992, p.76). For Morley the three categories – dominant, negotiated and oppositional – represented the three codes from which audiences decipher a media message. Viewers within the dominant code apparently accepted the meaning of the Nationwide programme at face value. This group included school children who didn’t have much in the way of pre-existing knowledge of the political subjects covered. Teacher training and arts students tended to give negotiated interpretations in that they criticised some aspects of the TV news reports but accepted the main thrust of the narrative. The viewers who gave oppositional interpretations were union members or came from black communities, according to the research. The assumption here is that groups generally aligned to the political and radical left were more likely to oppose outright the dominant media interpretation because it didn’t have any real connection with their own backgrounds and experience. This qualitative method to media research was groundbreaking (Sullivan, 2013). If people decode different meanings from media texts depending on their social and cultural background, then other social factors, beyond class, could be significant too. This opened the way for researchers to study the reactions of audiences according to other social and cultural factors like race, gender and nationality among others. ‘This is to conceive of the social individual – the individual decoder in a given structured social context’ (Morley, 1992, p.90). Yet now, the idea of just class differences having a significant impact on media reception seems like an outdated concept. If individual psychological factors and social backgrounds both have a role in shaping our own interpretations of media content, what does this say about second screen users? We’ve already seen how second screen viewing (and the social backchannel) encourages viewers to question and doubt the dominant messages they receive through the media. Whilst they are watching TV, audiences can also engage with additional media sources which may contain different and contrary messages themselves. For example, TV viewers who are engaging with the BBC Question Time Twitter discussion feed whilst they are watching the programme itself will be exposed to a large variety of contrasting messages, opinions and views. According to Gerrard Goggin (2011), ‘the active, “produser” audience … engages in peer to peer

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networking of television itself, as well as creating, redacting and distributing content for it’ (p.95). The very act of engaged second screen viewing encourages a negotiated reading of a TV message. Much also depends on who is doing the second screen viewing in the first place. Ofcom research shows us that distinct social groups engage with mobile platforms and interactive technology in various ways. This has more to do with age than class. Access to mobile technologies is still an issue in the UK, but it is becoming less central in this debate as smart phones and tablet computers become cheaper and, seemingly, all-pervasive in society. More significant is the notion of Digital Quotient (DQ) – introduced and used by Ofcom in their annual report into the UK Communications marketplace. A significant part of DQ is the concept of digital confidence. According to Ofcom, teenagers aged 14 and 15 have the highest digital confidence in the UK. They are the most ‘technology savvy’ after which we enter a ‘long decline’ (Ofcom 2014). By the time we reach 45 years of age, according to Ofcom, UK adults have the same digital confidence score as a six-year-old child. Whilst this may be disheartening news for many, it does mean that the new wave of media users is very engaged with mobile platforms. They are the post-Millenials, the iGen generation, born after the year 2000, who are the digital natives and have grown up with this interactive technology. David Morley put schoolchildren in the dominant category for media interpretation because they didn’t have enough life experience, confidence and knowledge to question established norms. However, schoolchildren are at the pinnacle of digital confidence and as a group they are likely to be using second screens whilst watching TV. It is these teenagers and young adults, who can navigate easily through this interactive technology, share content and ideas, who are likely to come away with a negotiated reading of TV programmes. The 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum campaign is a case in point here. For the first time in history 16- and 17-year-olds were given the vote in a UK referendum. As this move was being debated, politicians questioned whether children of that age would understand and appreciate the issues and challenges at stake. After all, some argued, young people were known to be apathetic when it came to politics. In the event, the whole #indyref campaign turned out to be a showcase of young political activism, a flowering of political engagement across Scotland which has endured during the months following the referendum itself. As we’ll discover in following chapters, young Scottish people hungrily watched news and current affairs programmes, eagerly debated the political arguments online and clearly did not believe or accept all the dominant messages they were exposed to on television. In effect they were negotiating the terms of their own media decoding. If media audiences can be understood as distinct groups of decoders, then producers, reporters and journalists are the encoders of TV content. From a


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semiotic standpoint, encoding is not a conscious process: it happens whether programme makers intend it or not. Second screen social engagement complicates this picture as users are effectively creating some of the interactive content: they are decoders and encoders at the same time in the interactive process. However, this is only the case when, to use Sharon Ross’s term, the engagement is organic. If the second screen experience is originated and controlled by TV programme makers then there’s a strong argument that the technology gives producers a new platform to reinforce a dominant reading of media content. This would be the case with enhanced TV where additional content is created for second screen viewers including mini episodes, director and cast interviews, even games and quizzes about the programme. Here viewer agency is focused on the power to choose content but not participate in the structure or outcome of a programme. BBC Red Button services fall under this category as there is no ‘return path’ and so the nature of the interactivity is limited and true participation is curtailed. The motivation of the audience is a crucial factor in determining the success – or otherwise – of a second screen experience. Effective dual-screen activities have been able to tap into a number of pre-existing needs and desires within the TV audiences. Interactive platforms around sports and entertainment shows, for example, have proved to be popular because they meet a number of inherent desires among the audience: socialisation, community, competition and status. ‘People have always liked to shout out the answer to a TV quiz show’, says Nick Hall from Endemol, ‘that’s part of the attraction’ (author interview, December 2015). In the same way, during a football match, people have always liked to shout out when their team scores a goal or when the referee makes a decision they do not agree with. The second screen gives viewers, and sports superfans, an interactive platform to do the same thing. The technology amplifies the message and enables users to create new social networks with a global reach. ‘Sport is a really exciting part of this,’ says Tom McDonnell from the digital agency Monterosa: It’s all to do with motivation. TV still commands attention in the living room so if you can find out what the one thing is that is going to get the most people to respond, and either change tab, go to a different app, go to a mobile website, you need just one of those things. If you can find out what the most motivating call to action is – you can get an audience. (Author interview, June 2015, my emphasis) This doesn’t mean that the only successful second screen projects are the ones that are developed with the intention of satisfying pre-existing audience demands and desires. Sometimes supply creates its own demand. As we will see later in the book, some of the most successful second screen experiences came about not because there was an immediate and pressing demand from

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the audience for an interactive experience, but because new technology enabled producers to innovate and experiment. This is particularly true with the increasing ‘gamification’ of video content brought about by second screen engagement. Game playing doesn’t appear in Blumler’s typology within Uses and Gratifications but the technology has afforded new interactive play-along experiences and a new audience desire has emerged as a result. As Tom McDonnell states: ‘to some extent interactive entertainment formats can be driven by a desire to innovate. It’s quite a buzz getting people to vote, to play along. It’s nice to see the feedback from the audience.’ Second screen activity has moved beyond the traditional motivations of TV viewing. It is tapping into more innate human needs and desires: to play games. As Janet Murray (2006) states: ‘We seem hardwired to play – to explore for the simple pleasure of exercising our faculties and exploring the world in nonsurvival ways’ (p.189). In 2012 she introduced the term interactor in place of user around the concept of agency in interactive game design. ‘Interactors focus their attention on a computer-controlled artifact, act upon it, and look for and interpret the responsive actions of the machine’ (2012, p.11). This could be a working definition of second screen use where the technology is able to turn TV viewing into an interactive game. It’s something that TV producers, digital media agencies, and advertisers have been trying accomplish in their bid to attract and maintain active ‘leanforward’ audiences. It hasn’t always been an easy task as the following pages will attest. There are examples of success in second screen experiences across the scope of traditional TV genres but perhaps the area that interactivity and game playing works best is in TV entertainment.

Bibliography Bacon-Smith, C. (1992) Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Blumler, J. G. & Katz, E. (1974) The Uses of Mass Communications: Current Perspectives on Gratifications Research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Brittin, M. (2015) Digital Keynote: Google. Edinburgh International Television Festival. Friday 28 August. Cablefax Daily (2011) Social TV. 18 January. Available at: archives/social-tv-11 Dibble, J., Hartmann, T. & Rosaen, S. (2015) Para-social interaction and parasocial relationships: conceptual clarification and a critical assessment of measures. Human Communication Research 42(1). Giles, D. (2002) Para-social interaction: a review of the literature and a model for future research. Media Psychology 4: 279–305. Goggin, G. (2011) Global Mobile Media. New York: Routledge. Gubbins, E. (2015) Bowling Alone Nonsense. Expanded Academic ASAP Web. 8 June. Harrington, C. L. & Bielby, D. (1995) Soap Fans: Pursuing Pleasure and Making Meaning in Everyday Life. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.


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Harrington, C. L. & Bielby, D. (2007) Global fandom/global fan studies. In Gray, J., Sandvoss, C. & Harrington, C. L. (eds) Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. New York: New York University Press. Hartmann, Y. & Goldhoorn, C. (2011) Horton and Wohl revisited: exploring viewers’ experience of para-social interaction. Journal of Communication 61(6): 1104–1121. Hills, M. (2002) Fan Cultures. London: Routledge. Horton, D. & Strauss, A. (1957) Interaction in audience participation shows. The American Journal of Sociology 62: 579–587. Horton, D. & Wohl, R. (1956) Mass communication and para-social interaction: observations on intimacy at a distance. Psychiatry 19: 215–229. Isaacs, S. D. (1995) The gatekeepers or the barbarians? Columbia Journalism Review 33.5:50. Expanded Academic ASAP. Katz, E. (2009) The end of television. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 625(1): 6–18. Katz, E., Blumler, J. G. & Gurevitch, M. (1973) Uses and Gratifications Research. The Public Opinion Quarterly 4 37: 509–523. JSTOR. Available at: http://jstor. orh/stable/2747854 Katz, E., Gurevitch, M. & Haas, H. (1973) On the use of the mass media for important things. American Sociological Review 38: 164–181. Kwon, M-W., D’angelo, J. & Mcleod, D. (2013) Facebook use and social capital. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 33(1–2): 35–43. Ling, R. (2007) Information and Communications Technologies in Society: E-Living in a Digital Europe. Abingdon: Routledge. Lull, J. (1990) Inside Family Viewing: Ethnographic Research on Television’s Audiences. London: Routledge. Macdonald, I. (2015) How to make a Doctor Who title sequence at home – a masterclass. The Conversation. Available at: how-to-make-a-doctor-who-title-sequence-at-home-a-masterclass-47729 Mann, D. (2014) Wired TV: Laboring over an Interactive Future. New Jersey: Rutgers. Mittell, J. (2006) Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television. The Velvet Light Trap 58.1: 29–40. Project MUSE. Web. 14 February. Morley, D. (1992) Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies. London: Routledge. Murray, J. H. (1997) Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press. Murray, J. H. (2006) Toward a cultural theory of gaming: digital games and the co-evolution of media, mind, and culture. Popular Communication 4(3): 185–202. Murray, J. H. (2012) Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. Ofcom (2014) The Communications Market 2014. Available at: http://media.ofcom. Proulx, M. & Shepatin, S. (2012) Social TV. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Putnam, R. (2001). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. Raacke, J. & Bonds-Raacke, J. (2008) MySpace and Facebook: applying the uses and gratifications theory to exploring friend-networking sites. CyberPsychology & Behaviour 11(2): 169–174. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2007.0056.

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Ross, S. M. (2008) Beyond the Box, Television and the Internet. Oxford: Blackwell. Rubin, R. B. & McHugh, M. P. (1987) Development of para-social interaction relationships. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 31: 279–292. Rubin, A. M. & Perse, E. M. (1987) Audience activity and soap opera involvement: a uses and effects investigation. Human Communication Research 14: 246–292. Rubin, A., Perse, E. & Powell, R. (1985) Loneliness, parasocial interaction, and local television news viewing. Human Communication Research 12: 155–180. Available at: tb00071.x/abstract Sajuria, J., vanHeerde-Hudson, J., Hudson, D., Dasandi, N. & Theocharis, Y. (2014) Tweeting alone? An analysis of bridging and bonding social capital in online network. American Politics Research 1–31. Sullivan, J. (2013) Media Audiences: Effects, Users, Institutions, and Power. USA: Sage. Tincknell, E. & Raghuram, P. (2002) Big Brother: reconfiguring the ‘active’ audience of cultural studies. European Journal of Cultural Studies 5(2): 199–215.


Entertaining the interactive user Play-along, voting and gossip

Let’s start with the success stories. Of all the TV genres, entertainment is able to boast the highest levels of audience engagement across the second screen. If dual screen use is best understood by combining social TV, enhanced added-value content and participatory two-way experiences, then entertainment shows are often able to tick all three boxes. Entertainment is where dedicated synchronised apps work best and the audience data proves it. Entertainment has become a magnet for online backchannel discussion, gossip and excitement and it provides the perfect platform for enhanced TV material and shareable content. As we have seen, it was TV entertainment formats – in the form of quiz games – that marked key moments in the development of interactive TV: Bamboozle on Teletext, Big Brother and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (to name but a few) all innovated within the emerging ecosystem of second screen activity. In turn they showed the doubters in the TV and advertising industries that there can be an enduring audience appetite for active participation with the TV.

Play-along interaction TV quiz shows have always been play-along experiences. Even before the advent of interactive technology, viewers competed with friends and family members by shouting out the answers to televised questions. ‘Whenever we talk about interactive media,’ says Nicholas Iuppa, ‘the concept of game shows invariably comes up. That, quite simply, is because game shows are so intrinsically interactive’ (2013, p.205). Synchronised second screens have now taken this competitive spirit to a new level. They give users the chance to pitch themselves against on-screen contestants in real time. However, the audience motivation for competition and status goes beyond this. Second screen applications have enabled the formation of communities of online players around particular shows: complete with leaderboards and prizes.

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Million Pound Drop Channel 4’s Million Pound Drop (Channel 4, 2010–), presented by Davina McCall, has been described as the ‘poster child for second screen apps’ (Bulkley, 2013). Contestants are given one million pounds in cash and at the beginning of each question they have to choose which multiple choice answer to put their money on. A wrong answer will open a trap door and the money is lost forever. Viewers at home can download a free companion app for their smart phone or tablet which enables them to play along in real time. At home – on the second screen – people play with virtual, graphicised bundles of cash. ‘You are dragging money about so there is a physical connection to what is happening in the show and for those 60 seconds you are in the shoes of the contestant,’ says Nick Hall from Endemol, the independent producer of Million Pound Drop. ‘For a moment you feel like you are in the game show itself’ (author interview, December 2015). Tom McDonnell is the CEO of Monterosa, the digital agency which produced the app for Channel 4. He describes how quickly the process of creation moved from conception to finished digital product: It came about in a hurry: eight weeks and that was it. We did it. It was quite something. It was dramatically successful and nobody could believe the numbers. I think the second night it got about 12.5% of the viewing audience played it which was a record at the time. So it just really worked. (Author interview, June 2015) There is more to the app than just a simple play-along game: it’s a chance for the audience to have an impact on the live show itself. The digital interactive team join the TV production team in the broadcast gallery during transmission, creating on-screen graphics and feeding second screen playalong information to the presenter. Statistics from at-home players are regularly incorporated into the quiz: Davina McCall might update viewers on whether women were beating men or which part of the UK scored best in any question. According to Tom McDonnell, ‘it’s something you couldn’t do before: to see hundreds of thousands of people responding to a call to action and seeing the data coming through. So that push, that performance, is innovation.’ For viewers who want to take part in the televised show itself, the application process is only available to players on the app: it’s another motivation to download and play along. ‘The idea of feeding audience data back into the show, the idea that you had to play to get on the show: these things crept into it and it made the format,’ says McDonnell. ‘We were doing some other big projects at the time and we never expected it to be this big hit. But it was.’

Figure 3.1 Screen shot from the companion app for Channel 4’s Million Pound Drop. Image courtesy of Endemol/Shine group.

Figure 3.2 Screen shot from the companion app for Channel 4’s Million Pound Drop. Image courtesy of Endemol/Shine group.

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Short-lived second screen projects However, the addition of an interactive second screen hasn’t always been a recipe for success within TV entertainment. Experience has shown that user interactivity, by itself, can’t and won’t prop up an ailing TV show. During the years 2011 and 2012, second screen activity was developing fast. For broadcasters, particularly in the commercial sector, this was a time for experimentation. Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (ITV 1998–2014) was a global phenomenon around a simple TV format: contestants faced multiple choice questions that increased in difficulty as the programme progressed. Hosted in the UK by Chris Tarrant, Millionaire had the biggest cash prize in British TV at the time. It was launched in September 1998 and transformed ITV’s ailing fortunes. In the first series the audience levels for each episode rose from 9.5 million to 12.5 million. At its peak, the show commanded audiences of more than 19.21 million viewers: a third of the UK population in 1999 (BARB, 2002). During the first three series, the show stayed in the top ten most watched programmes of the year in the UK and ten million people phoned the premium rate telephone number in the hope of becoming a contestant on the show. The concept was sold to 120 countries and even inspired an Oscar winning film in Slumdog Millionaire. However, by 2010 its weekly audiences had dwindled to three million, the format was changed and from 2011 only celebrities appeared on the show. As we’ve seen in Chapter 1, Millionaire had embraced a limited form of interactivity as far back as 2001: on ITV2 and with an online play-along game. However, that was at a time before mobile platforms and the webbased game depended on users having a networked computer in the same room as the TV. By 2012, Millionaire turned to the second screen in an attempt to revive the old quiz format. The programme producers teamed up with the French digital company Visiware to use its ‘PlayAlong’ platform to create an interactive game for the various international versions of the show: including on the ITV website. A 2012 statement from Visiware describes how the game would work: The experience will be seamless and real-time. Furthermore, the secondscreen experience will be enhanced with statistics that will not only show the PlayAlong viewer’s own score, but will provide stats about how the overall PlayAlong community scored, based on different parameters, such as age, gender, geographic location. (Swedlow, 2012) Who Wants to be a Millionaire – the People Play won the award for ‘Best Multiscreen application’ at MIPCOM in Cannes in 2012. Alongside the online game, Visiware, ITV and Victory TV had been working on a dedicated companion app for the show. They even planned to replace the ‘Ask the Audience’ lifeline with an ‘Ask the Nation’ option which


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would aggregate question answers from UK viewers with the real studio audience response. However, the play-along app was axed in 2012 very close to the programme’s transmission date. The reason for the cancellation has never been absolutely clear: at the time an ITV spokesperson said it was a case of ITV ‘reviewing and deciding to go down a different route’ (McDonald, 2012). The decision to cancel the app took place around the same time as a restructure at ITV Online when the attention of the commercial broadcaster was refocused towards Video on Demand (VOD) services and the ITV Player in particular. The move highlighted a longstanding challenge for interactive TV: within the management structures of UK broadcasters there had been no comfortable home for second screen projects. Should they belong with the online department or the programme teams? Second screen interaction often fell between the two and, ultimately, lost ground and investment to the growing importance of VOD. However, ITV did try out other interactive TV formats at this time. Red or Black (ITV 2011–2012), a new concept from Simon Cowell’s Syco company, ran for two seasons from 2011. Audience members had to pick either ‘red’ or ‘black’ and then sit back and watch a number of challenges which would determine whether they had guessed correctly and could go forward into the next round. As Red or Black reached its climax, and the final contestant had to spin a huge roulette wheel to win a million pounds, they are told how many people from their home town had also picked their colour in the interactive game. At the time Tom Dolan, ITV head of entertainment and digital channels, said We’re really encouraged at the levels of real-time  interaction. Over 370,000 play-alongs, with over 50% of users under 30, is a great result for a brand new show across a single week. This is a relatively new area for us but clearly demonstrates an appetite for this from our users. (cited in New Media Age, 2011) However, despite this initial excitement over a new show, long term the ratings stayed low and Red or Black only lasted two series before it was axed in 2012. At the very least this suggests that interactivity, together with Ant and Dec and big cash prizes, do not automatically add up to a TV hit. Channel 4 play-alongs Encouraged and emboldened by the interactive success of Million Pound Drop, Channel 4 created two new interactive TV game shows which put the second screen experience at the centre of the action. The first of these was the Bank Job (Channel 4, 2012) which was also produced by Endemol with the digital content created by Chunk Media. In this case, Channel 4 decided against an app and instead launched an online browser-based game several weeks before the first broadcast. The show was trailed at the end of episodes

Entertaining the interactive user


of Million Pound Drop and a ‘call to action’ prompted people to go online and play. Only players of the online game would have the chance to become contestants on the actual broadcast show. One of the central roles of the digital game was to create a space where viewers could participate with the show before, during and after the show itself. For Brian McHarg, CTO of Chunk Media, it was about generating long term viewer engagement: ‘For the two months that the Bank Job game ran online it never had a period when there was nobody playing it,’ he says, there were always people active. It had something like 72 years of game time. The long tail of that immediate call to action on TV led to hours of retention afterwards. The game was quite indicative of how the digital content could be seen to outperform the broadcast or at least certainly get more engagement throughout a longer period. (Author interview, October 2015) It is common, if unfortunate, in the development of interactive TV projects, for the second screen experience to be designed at a later stage to the TV show itself. In some sectors of the industry the second screen is seen, if not exactly as an after-thought, then certainly as an ‘add on’ in terms of ‘added value’. However, this was not the case with the quiz concept: Was it something I said? (Channel 4, 2013). The entertainment show was inspired by the 2010 C4 digital platform Quotables: an online website designed to be a forum where users can share their favourite quotes. Here the online interactive element came first and the TV programme evolved at a later stage rather than the other way round. What makes Was it something I said? unique is that this was a play-along second screen interactive game without a dedicated app or a website. Instead the TV show used the Twitter platform itself for people to engage with the show. Jody Smith, a Multiplatform Commissioning Editor for Channel 4, explained the reasons for this during an online event in 2013: ‘The intention is to take the experience to where users already are – and we know that our audience love to tweet while watching our entertainment shows’ she said, ‘We also know that for shows that have a native app, like The Million Pound Drop, users will flick between the show app and their social feed, so keeping their experience in one place should be welcomed’ (Smith et al., 2013). Channel 4 intended this to be a mobile-first experience: a decision purely based on user habit. Jody Smith also describes the audience engagement as ‘loose play-along’ because, in her words, ‘it doesn’t matter whether you answer all questions, or just one, so long as you enjoy the experience’ (Smith et al., 2013). Users at home tackled the same questions, at the same time, as the TV panel. The more questions people answered correctly, the more multimedia bonus content they could unlock. This enhanced content included behind-the-scenes footage, out-takes from the show, pictures, GIFs and jokes. Users at home were also given tasks and games to keep them occupied and engaged during commercial breaks.


Entertaining the interactive user

‘You have to fish where the fishes are. That’s the same mantra advertising professionals live by’ (Litwin, 2009). This, essentially, is the reason that Channel 4 utilised Twitter as the second screen for Was it something I said? It judged that its audience was already active using the social media site whilst they were watching TV. However, the broadcaster didn’t own the platform, so it had limited control over this second screen and, as a result, the value of the audience engagement accrued elsewhere. It’s a dilemma and a debate that is happening across the genres of the TV industry – from news and factual to drama and sport – should TV programmes seek to engage with viewers on existing social media sites or attempt to pull them out into a dedicated website or app? Both the Bank Job and Was it something I said? experimented with different practical solutions to this question but both, ultimately, did not last long as UK TV formats. Examples from Denmark Denmark’s national public service broadcaster DR has been experimenting in interactive and second screen activity for a number of years. Senior managers at DR have a nickname for such digital projects: they are known as ‘speedboats’. It’s a reference to an old analogy of big corporations acting like huge slumbering supertankers when it comes to innovating and changing direction. In this case, then, second screen projects were characterised as ‘speedboats’ because they were small, fast, agile and, perhaps (to extend the metaphor), more prone to capsize than the supertankers themselves. Like the BBC, DR is funded by a broadcast licence fee but unlike the BBC, this fee is payable not only by people who own a television set but also owners of radios, computers and other devices which can receive DR’s video content. It is a funding model that links in with the new realities of mobile TV viewing. In April 2014 DR bought the rights to a new TV game show called Versus (DR, 2014–) produced by Zodiak Media. The show, originally broadcast in Belgium, set up a number of unusual challenges for contestants and asks the studio audience to decide which side will win. Zodiak described these as ‘a number of titanic clashes. It might be a thrilling celebrity versus amateur battle, an astonishing man against machine contest, or a crossdiscipline face-off between famous sportsmen’ (Zodiak Media, 2014). The programme tested things like: which person could hold their breath the longest – an opera singer or a trumpet player? Carsten Lakner was the head of media planning and digital development at DR at the time: We were creating weird scenarios where you would not have a chance of knowing which side would win. So you would pitch the Danish Symphony Orchestra against a cannon outside Hamlet’s castle and ask which would make the loudest noise. (Author interview, August 2015)

Entertaining the interactive user


Inside the Versus studio the audience were given a keypad on which to make their choice. However, the executives at DR wanted to go beyond this to create an interactive experience for people watching at home. Lakner explains: ‘(Versus) didn’t have a second screen element but when we saw it it seemed to lend itself so well to second screen we thought that would be perfect to build that.’ DR didn’t commission an expensive companion app for Versus, instead it developed a responsive website which sat inside a mobile app-like shell. According to Lakner, about 10 per cent of the viewing audience played along on the second screen. Of those people 80 per cent played on phones and tablets and only 20 per cent were on their laptops. Users at home had to register to be able to play the game: so they were required to supply some basic information including their age, their gender and where they lived. This meant that the resulting player stats could be fed back into the fabric of the show and create a new level of competition. Versus became less about the individual challenges and more about pitching different sections of the viewing audience against each other to see which group scored more points. This drove audience engagement, says Carsten Lakner: the most interesting results would come onscreen. That would be were men or women better at guessing overall. Were people over or under 40 better at guessing. Or was the west side of the country better than the east side of the country. This last point is a really big thing because in Denmark if you’re from the east side of the country you’re basically from Copenhagen so you’re a city dweller. The producers wanted to create a prize to incentivise players at home but they also didn’t want to put off viewers who might have come late to a programme. In the end they created the concept of a raffle for second screen users at home. For every answer that people got right, they would get a number in the raffle. Those who only answered one question correctly had just one raffle number but were still in with a chance to win. If the winner had registered to play via Facebook then the producers broadcast Facebook photos to advertise the winner on screen. Versus launched three weeks before Strictly Come Dancing was broadcast on TV2 in Denmark. Strictly, as in the UK, was a very popular show in Denmark and many people expected the audience for Versus to drop off dramatically. Carsten Lakner says that didn’t happen: It did hold its own. What’s really interesting is that despite the fact that viewers on the TV programme dropped off, participation on the second screen kept rising. Even when we lost a third of viewership when Strictly started, the users of the app kept going up. Clearly something was working here. We were facilitating some kind of playing together which is actually doing the show heaps of good.


Entertaining the interactive user

In Denmark Versus was scheduled after a popular children’s programme on Friday evening and DR discovered that the game show held on to this audience because it appealed to all ages and it brought families together. As Lakner states: instead of going to their room and watching whatever screen they had in their room, they were sticking around in the living room and watching TV with their parents. Because the show allowed you to gather around the competition and kids were as likely to guess as correctly as their parents. That is obviously an interesting dynamic.

The X Factor In June 2015 ITV held a showcase in London for prospective TV advertisers. The event was orchestrated to promote the upcoming shows for Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster. According to Jessica Scott, Partnerships Group Manager for ITV who was presenting at the showcase, The X Factor (ITV, 2004–) is ‘the show that keeps coming back for more year after year. It’s our biggest show with the biggest demand’ (ITV Media, 2015). The first series of The X Factor launched in the UK in September 2004 and it’s been a flagstone element of ITV’s Saturday night broadcasting ever since. According to the producer of the show, Fremantle Media, The X Factor is the largest talent competition in Europe and is produced in more than 40 different countries around the world. In 2014, the UK show reached 44 million people over 16 weeks with an average of 10 million viewers for each episode (ITV Media, 2015). During the first 11 years the show spawned 31 number one singles in the UK and also created the boy band One Direction. As Jessica Scott emphasised to advertisers, ‘It has a cultural impact above and beyond the show’ (ITV Media, 2015). Increasingly The X Factor has embraced digital technologies to discover new ways to engage fans: it’s now a multimedia, multiplatform experience. The X Factor Facebook pages feature behind-the-scenes content and exclusive interviews which are then shared on Twitter to promote various programme hashtags. There are links to official Instagram sites and the ITV X Factor webpage. Video content redirects users to The X Factor YouTube channel. It’s a process of cross-fertilisation where each segment feeds into another as the user is drawn further into the storylines of the show. Audience participation is woven throughout the format: viewers, if they have the talent, can become the stars of the show itself. Every year thousands of people queue up to take part in auditions with the hope of becoming the next big thing. The X Factor is a transmedia project on a grand scale. It unites both contestant and viewer around one central theme: the pursuit of fame. As Tim Wall (2013) argues: ‘In the selection of a star the idea of game remains at the heart of the myth. Fame is the idea that drives, and so unites, the multiple narratives of the show’ (p.20). Interactive second screen

Entertaining the interactive user


Figure 3.3 Phone screen shot from a companion app for ITV’s The X Factor. Image courtesy of Fremantle Media.

engagement adds to these multiple narratives: it enables viewers to feel close to the singers, to become an insider into the process and so share in the fame. It gives users an invested interest in the outcome of the show. According to Kantar Media, The X Factor was ‘the most tweeted about programme in the UK’ in 2014 (Kantar Media, 2014). At that time the show had 5.4 million followers and generated 9.4 million tweets in the 12 months between June 2013 and May 2014. The show had a significant lead over the TV Twitter runner up, Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 2011–), which registered 5.2 million tweets in the same period (Kantar Media, 2014). Kat Hebden is the Managing Director of Shotglass Media, the digital division of Fremantle Media UK which deals with audience interaction, social media and branded content for The X Factor. Hebden describes how grassroots audience activity on social media led the team to expand their focus in this area: The X Factor is arguably the biggest multiplatform show in the world. We are the most tweeted about show on Twitter and the biggest digital entertainment brand based on reach and branded content. This social


Entertaining the interactive user domination came about organically. When Twitter first launched we thought ‘oh, we had better do a bit of Twitter’ and it grew from there. (Author interview, June 2015)

Twitter and Facebook backchannel conversations are a gold mine for programme makers when it comes to understanding the audience motivations and habits and amplifying the impact of the show. During the 2015 series, over an average seven-day period the show had 656,740 engaged users on Facebook and racked up 8.7 million likes. On Twitter the total series engagement reached 12 million and the show had 6.6 million followers according to Fremantle Media. Series one of the X Factor USA was the first show to introduce voting via Twitter. In the UK ITV considered introducing voting on both Twitter and Facebook but then ruled it out. Ann Cook is the head of ITV Interactive: ‘We wouldn’t use social voting on the acts in X Factor as it is possible to see who is leading the vote and this would ruin the drama and tension of the reveals within the show’ (author interview, October 2015). Instead, in 2015, X Factor UK did introduce some Twitter voting which enabled viewers to select which groups of contestants the judges would mentor. ‘This is where social can be great in terms of some voting’ says Ann Cook, ‘where viewers voted through Twitter on which judge got which category on The X Factor, we saw tremendous engagement and the interactivity worked really well.’ The X Factor companion app The X Factor companion app has become the cornerstone of second screen engagement around the show. It’s also where much of the innovation has been directed. In 2014, The X Factor companion app was downloaded 2.4 million times: up by 56 per cent on the previous year. In 2015 app downloads stayed at the 2014 level. Within the app, a 5th Judge play-along game lets users make predictions, fans can test and share their knowledge of the show and they can also post comments and opinions during transmission. However, the ability to vote for free is one of the most popular functions of the app. Before 2014, viewers voted for their favourite acts by calling a premium rate phone number or via SMS texting. Kat Hebden explains the decision: The key to making second screen successful is to build on the ways people are interacting with the show. That’s why we decided to launch free in-app voting for the 2014 series. It was a radical departure as we’ve always had paid for voting in the past. Telephony votes were showing a decline and we were committed to finding creative ways to reinvigorate the show through our digital platforms.

Entertaining the interactive user


Figure 3.4 Phone screen shot from the companion app for ITV’s The X Factor. Image courtesy of Fremantle Media.

It was a risk because telephony voting had provided a significant revenue stream for the producer and broadcaster. Ann Cook from ITV states: Ideally you want as much of the audience engaged to help decide the outcome so it’s a true representation of the audience, hence the introduction of free in-app voting. This means paid voting has decreased although not as much as we thought. In December 2006, The X Factor final set a British record for SMS voting when more than 2,000 votes each second were cast during the programme. However, shortly after this, ITV Entertainment programmes became the subject of investigation: accused of misleading viewers who were paying to vote in interactive TV games. It was a wake up call to the industry and had the significant effect of forcing ITV to change the technology and process around viewer participation and interaction.


Entertaining the interactive user

2008 phone voting scandal In 2008 ITV was fined over £5.5 million by the regulator Ofcom after it emerged that viewers of TV entertainment shows had paid to enter premium rate phone-in competitions in which they had little or no chance of winning. It was a record fine: nearly three times more than the previous highest financial sanction imposed on a UK broadcaster. Beyond this ITV also pledged an additional £7.8 million for viewer compensation and a donation to charity. The programmes included Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV, 2002–), Ant and Dec’s Gameshow Marathon (ITV, 2005) and Soapstar Superstar (ITV, 2006–2007). At the time the Chairman of Ofcom’s Content Sanctions Committee, Philip Graf, said: ITV programme makers totally disregarded their own published terms and conditions and Ofcom Codes. Further there was a completely inadequate compliance system in place. The result was that millions of paying entrants were misled into believing they could fairly interact with some of ITV’s most popular programmes. (Ofcom, 2008) ITV set up a four-person panel to investigate what went wrong. Ann Cook was one member of that internal ITV panel: We realised through that investigation process that actually when you vote via SMS, the SMS text itself doesn’t necessarily get to the platform instantly, so there can be a delay. But that wasn’t understood before, and after that period of time we stopped SMS voting. By 2015 X Factor viewers could vote in three different ways: via landline, through their mobile phones by dialling a short-code number and on the X Factor app. During the 2015 series there were 24.4 million votes cast. As digital teams analysed the audience data that comes out of the voting, patterns start to emerge: older people generally prefer to pay for a vote on a landline whilst younger fans have embraced voting on the second screen via the app. The X Factor does use established social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to engage with its fans on a global scale, but for Fremantle, it was important to create and own a dedicated app. It also gives the producers a platform to create interactive advertising and sponsorship partnerships around second screen content. Kat Hebden says: The X Factor app is our most exciting digital property commercially and creatively. It’s a platform we wholly own and control that directly communicates live with our audience at home. We can offer brands really exciting functionality and digital activations on the app, enabling them to connect creatively and seamlessly to our X Factor fan base.

Entertaining the interactive user


ITV companion apps Despite earlier concerns around Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, ITV has now developed more dedicated second screen companion apps around TV entertainment shows than any other UK broadcaster. The new app for I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! (ITV, 2002–) was launched in November 2015 and, like The X Factor, it incorporated free in-app voting for the first time. The response saw unprecedented levels of engagement in the app. During the 2015 series of I’m a Celebrity, 2.7 million voters placed a total of 57 million votes. In the final episode, 9.6 million votes were cast and according to the digital agency behind the app, Tectonic Interactive, ‘this was the biggest in-app vote result in the UK … ever’ (Tectonic Interactive, 2015). The I’m a Celebrity app also distinguished itself from other entertainment apps by being a social interactive game. Users gained points for predicting the correct outcome of Bush-Tucker trials and jungle challenges. A leaderboard showed which viewers were in the lead. The app also linked to Facebook so users could see if any of their friends were playing along and how well they were doing. A ‘celebrities area’ showed the campmates in the jungle and let users access a stream of videos and photos about each. Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, 2007–) is another Fremantle production and, like The X Factor, it has turned into a global entertainment brand. In most countries with a Got Talent programme there is also a digital interactive experience that runs alongside the show. Like I’m a Celebrity, the BGT app enables fans to compete against others with their knowledge of the show and their predictions about what is going to happen. What makes the BGT app different is a big red buzzer to let viewers ‘buzz’ their appreciation during performances. It’s a simple idea that has proved very effective and popular. Big Brother and transmedia storytelling As we have seen, the launch of Big Brother was a significant milestone in the evolution of interactive TV. During its life the programme has faced a number of challenges as it experimented with user participation and enhanced TV content. At first there were significant challenges in providing 24/7 streaming whilst remaining compliant with the regulations. Marie James was a Channel 4 producer on the show at the time: My job was to moderate and comply the programme so you’re watching it live as it comes out. When you heard the birdsong or the security cameras that was us removing anything that was potentially contentious, libellous or defamatory. Nudity, extreme swearing, anything like that. It was interesting but it’s quite a costly endeavour to have 24-hour television. (Author interview, July 2015)


Entertaining the interactive user

The programme migrated from Channel 4 to Channel 5 in 2011. As with other entertainment shows, the increasing influence of the second screen has expanded Big Brother’s capacity for transmedia story telling: the ability to carry a narrative across multiple platforms and media formats. Elizabeth Evans refers to both Big Brother and The X Factor when she writes, ‘such programmes had developed a history of incorporating processes of transmediality, utilising the internet and telecommunication devices to allow the audience direct input in the construction of the programme’ (2011, p.9). A similar observation was made in 2002 before the emergence of second screen use: the multiple technologies available for accessing the program – the webcam, audio speakers and television itself – in addition to its take-up as a story by newspapers and magazines, helped to reconfigure the wider textual relations of Big Brother in significant ways. (Tincknell & Raghuram, 2002, p.208) Looking back, this list of technologies – webcam, audio speakers and TV – now appears limited and tame in the new digital world order. The number of technologies contributing to the transmedia narrative of the show would now include communities of pro-active users and contributors across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, multiple 24/7 streaming videos online, the flagship TV show and spin-off programmes, the sharing of User Generated Content, simulcasts and all the multimedia enhanced content on the official Channel 5 Big Brother app. The show is produced by Endemol where Nick Hall is the Director of Operations, Digital Media. Hall says Big Brother ‘still sits at the heart of interactive TV but the way that people participate has changed. There are so many ways you can now interact with the programme, either through the app or through social media’ (author interview, December 2015). Polls were a new feature and a central part of the app’s relaunch in 2014. For example, during ‘People power week’ viewer polls decided who became the first so-called ‘power housemate’. According to Nick Hall: An exciting innovation has been around polls: they can affect the outcome of the show dramatically. One of the polls we ran was announced live on air, it went live on the app and closed just 2 minutes later. We had a response of 80 thousand votes within that small window. We’ve done other longer polls where we’ve had up to 140,000 people participating. The fast-turnaround in-app polls have reinforced the second screen as a vehicle for immediate two-way audience participation in a show.

Entertaining the interactive user


BBC entertainment shows By contrast the BBC has been more reluctant to develop companion apps for its UK programmes. The final of the Great British Bake Off (BBC, 2010–) was the most watched programme of the year in 2015. 15.06 million people tuned in to watch Nadia Hussain win the contest in October (BARB, 2015). There is a Great British Bake Off app, but it is not designed to be a synchronised second screen companion app. Instead it’s composed of standalone recipes and videos from the show. Neither is there a companion app for Strictly Come Dancing (BBC, 2004–) although it is possible to conceive of one which might enable free voting, enhanced content and even step-bystep instructions on how to dance the Foxtrot. Significantly, in September 2015, BBC Worldwide did announce it is planning to produce a companion app for the international version of the Strictly format: Dancing with the Stars. The app will be developed alongside Monterosa, the digital agency behind Million Pound Drop. According to Harriet Frost, Brand Manager for Dancing with the Stars: With the online and television worlds getting closer it’s a powerful combination, fans scores will appear on-air and through the app they can gain access to exclusive backstage content to take their Dancing with the Stars viewing to the next level. (Monterosa, 2015) The Voice There have been other BBC attempts at developing second screen platforms, as this book will show, but most have been axed or redeveloped into something else. The Voice (BBC, 2012–2016) was a notable exception. Originally a Dutch singing format, it was acquired by the BBC following a bidding war with ITV in 2010. It differed from The X Factor in a number of ways: instead of judges there were ‘coaches’ like Sir Tom Jones, Paloma Faith, Boy George and In the early stages of the show these coaches are not allowed to see the contestants. Instead their chairs are pointed away from the stage and they choose whether ‘to turn’ and adopt the singer into their ‘team’ on the basis of their voice alone. This notion of ‘turning’ during the blind audition became a key component of the companion app. This was something that users of the app were encouraged to do before the show started. Sarah Clay is the Digital Commissioning Editor of The Voice at the BBC: we call it a preview game where you put your name on the back of the chair and you get to listen to the audio without seeing the person. It lets the audience do their own blind audition during the week before the show and that’s the thing that people love. They like to be able to make a decision based purely on the voice like the coaches do. That seemed to


Entertaining the interactive user catch the imagination of people because they would have their say about who is good before they see them. Then during the show they can watch them perform and decide whether or not they’ve changed their mind – so again it’s just a really simple ‘would you turn?’ game. (Author interview, July 2015)

The Voice app was designed to engage the audience before, during and after the transmission of each episode. The producers constructed a digital ‘card game’ to keep up the engagement after the show. The card game itself was a cross between online poker and fantasy football (both popular second screen activities): each card represented a singer on the show and users collected cards to create their own team. Cards gained points according to how many coaches and ‘home-coaches’ turn for them. Points also depended on the ‘social buzz’ around their performances in Facebook and Twitter. The app was pushed hard on the show: the celebrity coaches downloaded the app themselves and challenged viewers to ‘take me on’. According to Sarah Clay: ‘92% of downloads came off the back of the “call to action” on the show. It came off in that moment when you have the talent doing it. It’s quite hard to drive downloads from social or the website.’ According to the BBC, The Voice app had 980,000 downloads during series 4, there were 2.6 million shares, likes and comments on Facebook, 1.3 million Vine loops and 74.4 million impressions on Twitter (BBC, 2015). Unlike ITV, the BBC could not benefit from commercial sponsorship and synchronised advertising in the app. Instead the platform was focused on maintaining brand loyalty throughout the run and turning viewers into followers and advocates of the show on social media. The Voice digital team describes itself as ‘the naughty kid sister’ of the flagship programme (BBC, 2015). The tone of the online social engagement is clearly aimed at younger viewers. ‘It’s really added value’ says Sarah Clay: We struggle to bring in a young audience and they are under served. If you can find something that really engages that young audience and keeps them with the brand and they really value it. We do a survey on the back of the voice app to say what do you like and what don’t you like … and one of the things they like is that it makes them feel more engaged with the show, it makes them value the show more. Obviously the parents like it if the kids are playing along, they feel more invested. So it’s a really loyal young audience.

The Singer Takes It All – Channel 4 In the summer of 2014, Channel 4 launched its own shiny floor entertainment programme: The Singer Takes It All (Channel 4, 2014). ‘The initial concept for the show was to be an irreverent take on shows like the X Factor and other talent shows,’ says Brian McHarg, Technical Director at Chunk

Entertaining the interactive user


Figure 3.5 iPad screen shot from the companion app for Channel 4’s The Singer Takes It All. Image courtesy of Endemol/Shine group.

Media, which managed the digital content for the show. Unlike The X Factor the second screen element wasn’t added into the programme format at a later stage. It was an inherent part of the initial planning and was introduced upstream in the pre-production process. Nick Hall is the Director of Digital Development at Endemol who produced the programme: ‘It was an ambitious format. It was a fully interactive singing game show where everything was in the hands of the audience,’ he says. ‘We didn’t have any judges, there was no telephony vote and the auditions were judged by the public. Every element was controlled by people at home on their couches.’ To become a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent, for example, people had to travel to one of the national auditions, queue up and then perform in front of a panel of professionals. With The Singer Takes It All the process was much simpler: viewers had to download the app, record a song into their phone and upload the result. According to Brian McHarg the concept was inspired by social media dating apps: ‘anyone on their phone or tablet could go in and record a karaoke performance into the app and then be judged in the app by other users in a quick fire tinder-influenced voting style’. The top ten performers would then be invited on to the show itself – ready to compete live on air for money and fame.


Entertaining the interactive user

Figure 3.6 Phone screen shot from the companion app for Channel 4’s The Singer Takes It All. Image courtesy of Endemol/Shine group.

As soon as the programme began transmission, another part of the second screen app was activated: the live voting section. Unlike other second screen talent shows, voting on the Singer app had an immediate live impact on the show itself. Singers were placed on a conveyor belt in the studio and if the audience at home liked what they saw then the conveyor belt would move forward towards a golden zone. If people voted against a singer then the conveyor belt moved backwards towards the door and – ultimately – out the show. ‘We were responding to an audience desire for instant feedback and we were putting it into the show,’ says Nick Hall. App votes were calculated every ten seconds and a positive or negative average would determine the speed and direction of the conveyor belt. The amount of money a singer won depended on how much time they spent in the golden zone. ‘It was more like a karaoke game show than a talent show,’ says Brian McHarg, ‘it was fun and lighthearted and the core tenet was that the audience was in control in real time – that’s never been done before in the UK’. In both The

Entertaining the interactive user


X Factor and BGT, audience voting was collated and only revealed after transmission. The X Factor production team ruled out voting on social platforms because they didn’t want this to skew the results. However, this type of social, competitive voting was exactly the point of the audience engagement strategy in The Singer Takes It All.

The challenges of the second screen The Singer Takes It All won the Broadcast Award for Best Multiplatform Project in 2015. One judge commented: ‘The digital element was integral to the TV production and offered a truly immersive experience for the viewer’ (Broadcast Magazine, 2015). According to Endemol, half a million people installed the companion app which hit the top of the iTunes free app chart. The programme received 7.2 million live votes and there were 23 million audition votes via the app. The second screen interactive element integrated well into the programme format and there was clear demand from viewers for active two-way participation in the show. Yet despite this the programme was not recommissioned for a second series. Maybe the UK television market was already too saturated with talent shows by 2015 and 2016. In any case, the experience of The Singer Takes It All demonstrates some of the significant challenges of second screen projects: real time interactive experiences are expensive to create and maintain. Beyond this, music-based shows, in particular, have additional costs with royalties and copyright. These, however, are not the only obstacles TV Entertainment producers and digital agencies face. Broadcast delay Real-time second screen engagement, whether voting in talent shows or answering quiz questions, requires both screens to be synchronised with each other. In reality that has been nearly impossible to achieve because of broadcast delay: a time lag between the transmission of the digital TV signal and its reception. The length of time can depend on where people are viewing, who their digital provider is and whether they’re watching in HD or standard definition. Normally it is a matter of about 10 seconds but it can be up to a minute. This means that the pace of a TV programme has to be slow enough to make sure everyone playing along at home keeps up but not too slow in case the answers to quiz questions are revealed on mobile devices before they appear on the show itself. The BBC recently piloted an interactive show called You Against the Nation. According to Sarah Clay it ‘built in enough parameters’ to account for broadcast delay and ‘make sure it’s fair’. However, she says, it affected the editorial of the show because it slowed the pace of the TV show. You can make the show work for the technology but does it


Entertaining the interactive user compromise the quality of the show? When we tested You Against the Nation we realised that older people – who love that kind of thing – watched it for the quiz and the kids who are the biggest driver of downloads probably wouldn’t understand the questions.

About 2,000 people were involved in the BBC pilot after which the producers received feedback from the participants. Sarah Clay says ‘the younger people liked the play-along bit, the older people liked the show and we just thought it is probably going to fall between the two here.’ Chunk Media ran its own tests on broadcast delay whilst they were developing The Singer Takes It All app. According to Brian McHarg, Broadcast delay was a key challenge and provided a lot of technical complexities on how that voting worked. It affected viewer perception because your average viewer isn’t aware of broadcast delay in any sense so feeling that their actions and their votes were having an immediate impact was a particular challenge. One of the key issues was Ofcom compliance around voting: a legacy of the 2008 phone voting scandal. Broadcasters have to ensure that all votes cast in the time frame are counted. But what happens if players at home vote but broadcast delay means their vote missed the deadline and their vote had no impact on the show? Matt Millar is the CEO of Tellybug, the agency which created the X Factor app. He says that broadcast delay isn’t the most important issue. Instead the more pressing concern is viewer delay: You have a delay whilst you are waiting for people to work out what to do. They have to pick up the phone, unlock it and then, probably, reply to a text they’ve ignored. Only then do they get around to answering the quiz question. Broadcast delay is a technical thing that you need to understand if you are implementing these things. But from a design interaction perspective it’s less important than the viewer behaviour. (Author interview, September 2015) Jerry Kramskoy led the mobile research team at the BBC’s Research and Innovation department. He also chaired the group which sets the commercial requirements for companion screen for DVB (the international Digital Video Broadcasting organisation). ‘The most recent research in this area has looked into how you can get frame accurate synchronization,’ he says. TV manufacturers and broadcasters are working on a new generation of televisions to solve the issue. Kramskoy states, ‘The new TVs will be able to allow the set to communicate over the whole home network to produce companion screens experiences without broadcast delay’ (author interview, September 2015). However, this solution will take time and will require

Entertaining the interactive user


people to purchase new TV sets. For the time being, at least, broadcasters are stuck with the challenge. Cheating Cheating has been a challenge for many play-along quiz shows. In the Netherlands the production company Screenpop solved the problem by creating a second screen show called Intuition or Intuitie (RTL4, 2011). This was an image-based TV show which tested the gut instincts of the audience and depended completely on second screen participation: players won prize vouchers according to how many questions they got right. Basing questions on intuition meant users couldn’t cheat irrespective of how quickly they could type search terms on Google. At the time Jeroen Elfferich, CEO of Ex Machina, said ‘second-screen so far has been about adding online features to existing TV shows. Intuition is the first made-for-second-screen format by a major media company; it also includes an innovative business model’ (Ex Machina, 2011). Shortly after it broadcast the interactive game Versus, the Danish broadcaster DR tried a similar play-along concept with a TV property show called Hammerslag (DR, 1994–), but this time without the same success. It was an established show which had an audience with a relatively old demographic. However, DR decided a second screen interactive game might be a good way to attract younger viewers. Each programme highlighted three different properties across Denmark and asked viewers at home to guess the price of each. Carsten Lakner was involved in the commissioning process: I think we fell in love with the idea of rejuvenating an old show and seeing what it could do. It worked fine except that we found that some people were cheating: they were basically looking up on the internet what each particular house sold for. You can do that in the smaller towns. In the end DR changed the rules of the game: not only did people have to guess the right price but they also had to do it quickly. Lakner says this had a negative impact on the show: ‘We had to come up with an incredibly complicated set of rules. But as soon as you dilute the concept and how easy it is to understand what you do, people start dropping off.’ Getting the balance right Aside from the issues of cheating, Hammerslag highlighted other issues too. Each programme only featured three properties so the opportunities for viewer interaction were limited. According to Lakner:


Entertaining the interactive user you had to only interact three times over the course of 45 minutes. That’s not enough. People forget that they have the second screen in their hands. So you need to find some kind of interaction rate that’s more frequent.

So what is the right amount? Too few interactions and the user forgets to participate or loses interest. Too many and the second screen becomes a greater distraction to the TV show itself. For Nick Hall at Endemol, achieving the correct balance was crucial for the Million Pound Drop playalong game: ‘The pace of the show means you are interacting every six or seven minutes,’ he says. ‘So there are these short bursts of interaction and then you are back with the show, enjoying the jeopardy.’

Bibliography BARB Resources (2002) TV Since 1981. Available at: tv-facts/tv-since-1981/2002/top10/ BARB Resources (2015) Events in This Year: 2015. Available at: resources/tv-facts/tv-since-1981/2015/ BBC (2015) ‘The Inside Voice’ Social Media Panel Discussion. RTS Sponsored event at New Broadcasting House, 18 November 2015. Broadcast Magazine (2015) Best Multiplatform Project: The Singer Takes it All. Broadcast Magazine awards. Available at: broadcast-awards/broadcast-digital-awards/best-multiplatform-project-thesinger-takes-it-all/5089699.article Bulkley, K. (2013) How lucrative are second screen companion apps for TV broadcasters? Media Network Blog, The Guardian. Available at: www. second-screen-companion-apps-tv-broadcasters Evans, E. (2011) Transmedia Television: Audiences, New Media, and Daily Life. New York: Routledge. Ex Machina (2011) Intuitie: A Revolutionary Two-Screen TV Format. Available at: ITV Media (2015) Give Your Brand the X Factor. Available at: www.itvmedia. ITV Press Centre (2014) The X Factor dominates digital platforms. Online press release. Available at: Iuppa, N. (2013) Interactive Design for New Media and the Web. Abingdon: Focal Press. Kantar Media (2014) Twitter TV Ratings: X Factor has the Tweet Factor. Kantar UK Insights. Available at: Litwin, M. L. (2009) The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse. McDonald, A. (2012) ITV drops play-along Millionaire app. c21media. Available at:

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Monterosa (2015) BBC Worldwide & Monterosa to create official Dancing With the Stars companion app. Online press release. Available at: stories/news/monterosa-bbc-worldwide-dancing-with-the-stars-companion-app New Media Age (2011) ITV’s Red or Black? Play-along online game peaks with 77k players. Econsultancy. Available at: Ofcom (2008) News release: Ofcom fines ITV plc for misconduct in viewer competitions and voting. 8 May. Available at: news/2008/ofcom-fines-itv-plc-for-misconduct-in-viewer-competitions-andvoting/ Smith, J., Rogers, A. & Hryniewicz, A. (2013) Was It Something I Said? Channel 4 Online Summer Event. Available at: ds-scratch/Channel+4+Online+Summer+Event+2013.pdf Swedlow, T. (2012) Interview: Visiware’s playalong second-screen interactive TV Platform. Interactive TV Today. Available at: interview-visiwares-playalong-second-screen-interactive-tv-platform Tectonic Interactive (2015) I’m a Celebrity … Get me out of here! 2015 – ITV breaks new records for in-app voting. Available at: news/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-of-here-2015-itv-breaks-new-records-for-inapp-voting/ Tincknell, E. & Raghuram, P. (2002) Big Brother: reconfiguring the ‘active’ audience of cultural studies. European Journal of Cultural Studies 5(2): 199–215. Wall, T. (2013) The X Factor. In: Bennett, P. & McDougall, J. (Eds), Barthe’s Mythologies Today: Reading of Contemporary Culture. New York: Routledge. Zodiak Media (2014) Zodiak Rights Secures Format Deal for Versus. Press release. Available at:


Participating in the news agenda

On the evening of 13 November 2015 the civil war in Syria came to the heart of Europe. The militant group which calls itself Islamic State carried out a co-ordinated attack in the centre of Paris. Fighters, armed with automatic rifles, bombs and suicide belts, targeted the citizens of Paris indiscriminately: in cafes, restaurants and at the Bataclan music venue. In total 129 people were killed during the night. The first attack happened just outside the Stade de France in the north of Paris at about 9:20pm French time (20:20 GMT). A man attempted to get into the stadium; when he was stopped by security he detonated a suicide belt strapped to his body. Within minutes people around the world learnt about the attacks as a result of breaking news alerts on their mobile phones. Witnesses on the ground posted images and videos on social media sites. A video posted on Vine was one of the first confirmed images of the blast at the Stade de France. One eyewitness on Twitter, @pierre75010, posted a photo at 8:31pm from outside Le Carillon bar on Rue Alibert with the words ‘Fusillade paris carillon’ (shooting at the Carillon). He then went on to live tweet from the scene throughout the night. At 8:52pm another Twitter user, Eva Gerla, posted ‘Warning – gun shot at the Bataclan concert hall’. There were reports that so many people tried to log on to Twitter during the night that the website crashed as a result (Rudd, 2015). Twitter’s streaming tool, Periscope, struggled with the demand as viewers at home sought out a live view from the streets of Paris. Facebook launched its ‘safety check’ function which enabled people to post in their profile and alert friends and family that they were safe. This function was created during the Nepal earthquake and Paris was the first instance it was used for something other than a natural disaster. On Twitter, Paris residents used the hashtag #porteouverte (open door) to open their homes and provide shelter to those stranded in the French capital. As the scale of the attacks in Paris became apparent, many UK viewers then turned to traditional TV outlets for information and analysis. That night Children in Need was on BBC1: normally a very popular fund-raising event. However, after nine o’clock, as news of the attacks filtered through, the programme lost a significant number of viewers. Meanwhile, both Sky News and the BBC News at Ten saw their audiences rise by more than a million. In this instance,

Participating in the news agenda


television and mobile platforms were not rivals for viewers. Instead people moved seamlessly from one to the other in their attempt to better understand the fast-moving events.

Social media: to promote unity Social media was an important tool in enabling the people on the streets of Paris to communicate their experiences of the attacks immediately. But the social media activity went far beyond this: it became a place to express solidarity and unity with the people of France as well as an arena to mourn the dead. Cartoonists and artists posted drawings to sum up the national mood; #prayersforParis trended on the photo sharing site Instagram. Others took to social forums to warn against a ‘knee jerk reaction’ to immigrants in France. International news providers became consumers of messages, images and video posted on social media and, in turn, this User Generated Content fed into their reporting of the events. Mobile social platforms also enabled news providers to create unique and original content that would not easily live within a traditional news bulletin. Just a few days after the Paris attacks the BBC was generating 360-degree videos at both the memorial at the Bataclan venue and at the Place de la Republique (BBC News, 2015). Users were able to upload the videos on their phone or tablet and effectively ‘look around’ at a moving and emotional scene. It is one example of how developing technologies are enhancing user agency in news coverage.

News and the second screen People are using their smart phones and tablets to read, watch and share news content throughout the day, from the second they wake up to the moment they go to sleep. Media convergence has seen newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and other traditional news organisations embrace the online world (whether voluntarily or by necessity) by creating multimedia news websites. Digital media commentators have described a step change in the evolution of the web around the year 2004 with the notion of ‘Web 2.0’. Ofcom defines this as ‘A perceived “second generation” of web-based communities and hosted services such as social networking sites and wikis, which facilitate collaboration and sharing between users’ (Ofcom, 2015, p.421). In the same way there has also been two distinct stages in the evolution of media convergence. The move from traditional media forms to online web content might usefully be called: Convergence 1.0. The growth of smart phones and tablet computers, and with the roll-out of 4G coverage across the UK, has resulted in a rapid demand for mobile news content: this is Convergence 2.0. To meet the demand, almost every major UK national news organisation (both print and broadcast) has developed a mobile news app with similar functions and attributes. At a basic level the apps carry text


Participating in the news agenda

articles and opinion blogs and support video and audio news content. Beyond this, most news apps link to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. In 2015, BBC News redesigned and relaunched its mobile app as a more personalised tool. The ‘My News’ section collated tailored stories for each user based on preferred topics and geographic locations. Then in July 2016, the BBC took personalisation a stage further with its new BBC + app which lets users customise categories across all of the BBCs output. In this way the BBC was learning from other bespoke mobile media aggregators like Flipboard. Mobile news apps are not designed to be second screen companion apps. Mobile news content is not normally intended to be viewed and consumed whilst users are also watching news programmes on the first screen. In one sense the two platforms (TV and mobile) may be seen as competitors for viewer attention. There is some evidence that the prevalence of mobile news is drawing people away from established TV news programmes. Overall, according to Ofcom, audiences for TV news have dropped in the same way as TV viewing as a whole has experienced a decline. Increased On Demand viewing accounts for much of the decline around linear TV: but not news. Very few people watch news ‘on demand’. It’s in the nature of news to be live and immediate. Instead, Ofcom highlights ‘a shift to greater use of online services for news’ (Ofcom, 2015). As Batsell (2015) argues: ‘the market shift towards smartphones and tablets make it even more urgent for news organisations to find ways to engage mobile users on their own terms’ (p.100). The challenge for TV news providers is this: how should they embrace Convergence 2.0? How can they use their mobile platforms to drive brand engagement whilst encouraging people – especially young people – to watch the news on TV? Appointment-to-view TV news programmes and mobile platforms can complement each other: second screen use has enabled news viewers to debate the media coverage they are watching. For example, many people who watched the mainstream media coverage of the Paris attacks went on social media sites to complain of a bias in Western reporting. They claimed the death of 43 people in two suicide bombs in Beirut, just the day before Paris, went largely unnoticed and unreported in the mainstream media. Then other stories about terrorist attacks were shared and became popular on social media sites too, including an assault on Garissa University in Kenya by Al-Shabab militants. The attack, which killed 147 students, happened in April 2015 yet the story was trending on the BBC website on 16 November 2015 after seven million people clicked on the headline (BBC Trending, 2015). Social media helped viewers create and participate in a wider discussion over journalistic balance and news values – topics normally reserved for editorial meetings. It demonstrates that when users choose to consume a variety of media messages on different platforms then they are less likely to accept dominant readings. Instead the second screen helps the user make informed interpretations of media messages.

Participating in the news agenda


Changing the nature and structure of news Mobile platforms and second screen activity is changing both the role of TV news in the UK and the structures of our news organisations. When Tom Bradby was revealed as the new presenter on the ITV News At Ten in October 2015, he talked about the new look programme on BBC Radio Four’s Media Show: ‘News At Ten probably isn’t a primary news source for people any more,’ Bradby said ‘It’s a secondary news source. People have some idea of the news by ten o’clock’ (Bradby, 2015). As news apps increasingly become the main source of breaking news, TV news programmes have had to adapt. As a result ITV News At Ten has become ‘more analytical and more conversational’ (Bradby, 2015). The increasing dominance of mobile and social media is shifting the news agenda too. As news providers seek to create active communities of online users and followers, they are more likely to cover stories that will create a social buzz. As Bivens (2014) writes: ‘increasing interactivity seems to be having a transformative effect. One way in which interaction is emphasised within online production routines is through the identification of news items more likely to provoke discussions’ (p.231).

Newsgames As we’ve seen within TV entertainment, producers have introduced polls, voting quizzes and play-along games to enable participation on the second screen. TV news, as a genre, does not easily open itself up to the same interactive opportunities. However, some news organisations are beginning to experiment with different forms of storytelling in this area. In 2013, for example, the most popular item on the New York Times website wasn’t an article but a quiz about the way people talk which let readers see their ‘personal dialect map’ (New York Times, 2013). Another news outlet, BuzzFeed, describes itself as a ‘cross-platform, global network for news and entertainment’ where 75 per cent of unique visitor comes from social platforms (BuzzFeed, 2016). BuzzFeed’s news content often contains quizzes and other interactive articles. It has also set up a new division dedicated to the development of ‘newsgames’. According to one study, games have an important function to enhance deeper understanding: ‘games display text, images, sounds and video, but they also do much more. Games simulate how things work by constructing models that people can interact with’ (Bogost et al., 2010, p.6).

Migration Crisis Throughout 2015, TV news programmes were filled with images of the refugee crisis: the human fallout from the civil war in Syria. As hundreds of thousands of people desperately sought a way into Europe, TV camera


Participating in the news agenda

crews captured footage of inflatable boats off the coast of Greece, struggling to stay afloat, with hundreds of people on board. News reporters witnessed police in Hungary fire tear gas at crowds of migrants, including families and children. TV viewers watched crowds being turned away from train stations and begin a long march in the hope of getting to Germany. For news broadcasters covering such an important story over such a long timescale presents significant challenges: not least to prevent viewer fatigue and to keep the coverage relevant. In October 2015 Channel 4 News created an interactive video story called Two Billion Miles. This was an interactive ‘user-led’ website which enabled viewers to follow one of a number of journeys made by refugees from Europe. ‘We wanted to create a big public interest project’ says Ed Fraser, the Managing Editor at Channel 4 News. We had all of these amazing reports and we had captured all of this powerful video and we thought: ‘let’s find a way of using all this footage to follow a migrant path journey from start point to end point’. Make the viewer do these journeys, make it very interactive and give viewers real choices. (Author interview, January 2016) The project was an innovation in TV news storytelling on digital platforms. When the website is launched viewers are asked to imagine themselves a resident of Homs, under attack by Assad and Islamic State forces. Graphics tell you that your mother and elder brother have been killed. You are then given a choice: try and make it to a refugee camp in Lebanon or travel by land to Turkey to escape the fighting. Whichever journey you take there are more choices to make further down the line, and each choice brings further risks and dangers: do you take an inflatable dinghy to Kos in Greece? Do you hide in a truck on your way to Austria? Much of the journey is filmed in a point-of-view style to make the experience as personal and realistic as possible. Interviews, map graphics and statistics put each stage of the journey into a wider context. ‘We will definitely do something else in this area’ says Ed Fraser. ‘It’s incumbent on us not to just go on social media to get more viewing for our traditional linear TV pieces. We can bring a different, distinctive, original and innovative take on these stories.’ Two Billion Miles was a transmedia interactive project designed to give viewers a deeper emotional understanding of the migration crisis and to provide added value to the overall coverage of the migration crisis.

Politics The 2008 presidential election was a pivotal moment in the convergence of online social media and traditional TV political reporting. This was driven, in part, by Barack Obama’s innovative use of an emerging new generation of social networking sites to fundraise and connect directly with disaffected,

Participating in the news agenda


disenfranchised and previously apathetic potential voters. In the UK political observers were watching with admiration and with anxiety. Following Obama’s victory, Democrat election strategists came to the UK to advise the major parties on their campaigns. Both Labour and the Conservatives created their own mobile election apps which were intended to communicate directly with voters: unmeditated by the press. Aside from also raising money for political parties, the apps kept track of supporters and party members and were used to push special events like speeches and rallies. UK leaders’ debates 2010 At the time many people predicted the UK General Election in 2010 would be the first ‘social media election’ of its kind (Arthur, 2010). Media commentators talked up the emerging social media platforms as the rival to traditional TV news in the battle for audiences and influence. In the end the election became a showcase for what happens when social media and TV come together in an organic partnership: 2010 was the first second screen election in the UK. It was the beginning of a new hybrid system of media power, involving TV news, social media, political campaigning and citizen journalism. According to Chadwick (2013), ‘the hybrid media system is based upon conflict and competition between older and newer media logics but it also features important pockets of interdependence among these logics’ (p.207). The impact of second screen activity lives in a pocket of media interdependence and it came alive during the 2010 televised leaders’ debates. Whilst presidential debates are the norm in America, leaders’ debates were a novelty in the UK and there was a significant amount of hype and excitement around the events. During the first debate on 15 April 2010, ITV broadcast a live on-screen ‘worm’ which tracked the feelings and sentiment of a small focus group of viewers. The worm went up as people responded positively to comments made by the leaders. In 2010 the technology wasn’t available to gauge the live reactions of second screen viewers at home, but the concept did inspire later experiments. ITV also tried to embrace the social backchannel that was emerging on Twitter and Facebook around the debate and it broadcast some viewer comments on social platforms. However, there is danger inherent in live TV and ITV News At Ten accidentally broadcast a very offensive message that had been left on Facebook about one of the candidates. By general consensus the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was the winner of the first debate. Even Gordon Brown and David Cameron tried to align themselves with him: ‘I agree with Nick’ became the catchphrase of the event when it was picked up by Twitter users and started trending during the programme. The political website Tweetminster calculated that, during the first debate, 184,000 tweets were posted by 36,000 people – that’s about 29 tweets per second (Newman, 2010, p.32). In July 2010 the Reuters Institute analysed the role of the internet in #UKelection2010. In it Nic Newman states:


Participating in the news agenda It was also quickly evident that social media had become a powerful and engaging back-channel to the debates, amplifying and extending their impact. (Newman, 2010, p.32)

He quotes Richard Allan, Facebook’s Director of Policy in Europe at the time: Now, to have an election and not be able to post a link to a YouTube video or talk about it with your friends, is unthinkable. (Newman, 2010, p.32) Real time social media engagement amplified the buzz around the debates and gave them an impact above and beyond the live TV audiences. In creating their political messages, politicians had to think beyond the studio audience and the TV viewers at home; they now had to consider how their message would play across social media whilst the debate was still going on. The phrase ‘second screen’ isn’t used in Nic Newman’s report: as a concept it was still in its early stages. Instead Newman talks about users having a ‘two-screen approach’ on Twitter. Social media did not beat TV in the battle for the hearts and minds of the media audience. Instead this was one of the first times that people brought two screens together – this marriage of convenience – to engage with the wider media debate and participate in the political process.

#GE2015 The growing influence of Facebook There is an ongoing debate in the UK television news industry around the nature of second screen engagement. It mirrors a similar dilemma in the TV entertainment genre: should TV producers attempt to draw users out of social media sites and into a dedicated online space branded around a TV show? As we have seen, entertainment shows have done this by creating companion apps and interactive online websites for this purpose. There are a number of benefits to this: broadcasters have more control over the interactive engagement, they can gather data around their users and they can benefit from linked commercial opportunities. In the past, news providers have used social media in a similar way to reach new viewers and encourage them to click on content which would bring them to a dedicated news website. However, increasingly news websites are moving away from this model. Instead they are creating content that is intended to be consumed and shared on social media sites. Fast forward five years from 2010 and the outlook and tone of political reporting around the 2015 General Election campaign was very different for broadcasters. The landscape around social media and second screen

Participating in the news agenda


engagement had shifted. Online content discovery was being driven more by social recommendations and Facebook became more influential as a result. If video content appears in a news feed recommended and shared by a friend then people are much more likely to watch it. Ed Fraser, from Channel 4 News, says: At the last election we moved slightly away from just doing stuff on Twitter and more into the Facebook world. It’s been around for a long time but it has now become a very strong platform for video – and a good way to get that video seen by a huge audience. This meant that the conventions for news video content had to be adapted to meet the demands of the Facebook user. News video appears in the Facebook news feed and competes with other, more personal, content. As a result videos need to have immediate visual impact to make a user click on it. It has to pass the ‘three second audition’. Videos play automatically in the feed but the default setting is set to mute, so news video has to be able to work without sound. ‘One of the things we’ve done has been to create video on Facebook with subtitles,’ says Ed Fraser, ‘so we’ve been pioneering that area using subtitled videos to give the online viewer the added value experience.’ Sky News: Stand Up and Be Counted Sky News also promoted partnerships and projects with Facebook during the election campaign. On 1 September 2014 Sky News launched its Stand Up and Be Counted website. It was designed to attract the elusive and enigmatic audience of post-Millenials: 16–24-year-olds. The website acted as a dedicated platform for young people to share ideas and debate issues. An ‘Open Mic’ section encouraged them to record a video message and upload it to the site. According to the Sky News report on the initiative this was ‘a showcase for creative, absorbing and sometimes entertaining debate from 16- to 25-year-olds in their bedroom, back garden or high street, talking about the things that matter to them’ (Hirsch, 2014). Users were encouraged to share the content on mobile devices via WhatsApp, Kik, Twitter and Facebook. The site also provided Sky News with a very valuable resource: a database of hundreds of young, politically engaged viewers with fresh ideas. As the Sky News article stated: ‘This is changing Sky News, too. The voices we are hearing are informing our coverage and changing our perspective’ (Hirsch, 2014). The website was the first stage of the Sky News project. A few weeks before the General Election in May 2015, Sky sent out an appeal on the Stand Up and Be Counted site looking for young people to come to the Facebook headquarters in London for a special event called ‘Ask the Leaders’. Richard Evans is Head of Social Media and Audience Development at Sky News. He explains what happened:


Participating in the news agenda We took about 50 young people to Facebook and asked them to put questions live to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and it worked really well. From a social media point of view we were streaming this live on Facebook and for the young people who couldn’t be there we were delivering questions live from social media. (Author interview, August 2015)

Each politician had about 30 minutes on the platform in front of the live audience. Young people have a habit of asking questions that journalists themselves wouldn’t ask and that meant that David Cameron, for example, had to face down questions about putting taxes on tampons. After the politicians had finished their live session on Sky News they took part in a question and answer session streamed on Facebook. This was another opportunity for young second screen users at home to ask the questions and challenge the politicians over what they had just heard on TV. As Richard Evans states: We were hoping that people watching on TV would be also looking at Facebook and Twitter and seeing the discussion around it. We were trending on Twitter despite this being an event held at Facebook. We knew that was happening and we knew that people were using the hashtag #asktheleaders. For people that weren’t second screening we were streaming it on Facebook to reach people who were just on their mobile, computer or tablet. #Battlefornumber10 In 2015 the broadcasters and the politicians couldn’t agree on the timing, number and format of the leaders’ debates. Downing Street resisted calls for more head-to-head debates so broadcasters were left with a number of compromises that lacked the buzz of 2010. On top of this, social media involvement in news was no longer a novelty by 2015. User Generated Content had been embedded in the newsgathering process for several years and viewer participation in news was almost accepted as a given by audiences and producers. It meant that broadcasters had to innovate with the formats and the technology to engage audiences with something new. On 26 March 2015 Sky News and Channel 4 joined forces to broadcast the Battle For Number Ten programme from the Sky News studios in London. This wasn’t the head-to-head confrontation that took place in 2010. Instead David Cameron and Ed Miliband took it in turn to be quizzed by Jeremy Paxman and answer questions from the studio audience, moderated by Kay Burley. As expected the show played big on social media: #battlefornumber10 was the number one worldwide trend that evening and the number one trend in about 15 different countries globally. But Sky wanted more than to generate discussion on social media. It wanted to use

Participating in the news agenda


these social platforms to create additional added value content to enhance the experience of people using second screens during the programme. Richard Evans outlines the process: What we did was definitely geared towards a second screen mentality. We knew people would be watching it on TV or on YouTube and they would be talking about it on Twitter given that it is a real-time friendly platform. We knew some of the themes that were going to come up so we worked up some graphics on topics that we knew were going to be raised – employment rates for example. So we produced an unemployment graph to share on Twitter. Sky News partnered with a digital analytics company to study the real time data that was coming out of the social media engagement on the night. Producers were able to examine the words and phrases people were using on Twitter about each of the leaders. This data could then be used, not only to judge the dynamic popularity of the leader, but also what themes and issues were being debated online. The knowledge helped to drive the narrative of the show itself. Richard Evans says: It helped us figure out what talking points were most interesting to people. Zero hours contracts, for example, was a surprise to me personally. This was the most talked about subject on social media during the debates. So that resonated in the videos that we clipped up to put out on Twitter and Facebook of the key moments of the debates. ‘Zero hours contracts’ was the most-watched subject video. That was a big surprise and it really helped us talk to our audience about issues that they cared about for the rest of the campaign. Enhanced news content If the second screen is going to be more than a platform for debate and shared content during TV news programmes, then broadcasters need to create enhanced material fit for mobile use which can also work alongside TV news coverage itself. To do this news outlets have started using smart phones and tablets in the newsgathering process. Twitter’s live streaming application Periscope, which launched in 2015, is increasingly used by journalists on location whilst they are covering a story. It enables them to use their phones to stream events live. TV reporters have used the application to conduct interviews or stream live videos ‘on the ground’ during an evolving news story. For example, several TV reporters live streamed on Periscope to reveal the reality of media management on the ‘Battle Buses’ during the 2015 election. Other broadcasters have used it to show a glimpse behind-the-scenes during a big event (in the same way as producers on The X Factor have been using the tool). Matt Roper is the Digital Editor at STV News in Glasgow:


Participating in the news agenda When the Twitter app Periscope launched a few weeks before the Scottish Leaders debate in the general election, we thought it would be a good idea to capture a bit of the behind the scenes. So our reporter was giving the commentary from the spin room. (Author interview, December 2015)

Users on Periscope attract followers in the same way as Twitter and followers can comment on the streaming pictures in real time. In 2013 Sky News invested in a Dejero server and mobile app system. This enables reporters on location to film material on their phones and live stream it back to the studio. It is a new weapon in the armoury of the news broadcaster to respond quickly to events and generate added value content. In January 2013, Sky correspondent Mark Stone used the technology to do a live interview from the middle of an anti-censorship protest in Guangzhou, China. When Sky News correspondent Nick Martin travelled to Peru in August 2013 to report on the court case of two British women accused of trafficking drugs, he discovered that the satellite truck couldn’t access the satellite from outside the court building. Nick Martin was able to rig up his iPhone, connect lights and external microphones and live stream his two-way via the Dejero app on 4G. During election night 2015 Sky News was able to utilise similar technology for a massive live streaming event. The broadcaster teamed up with the LiveU platform to provide a live stream from 138 locations across the UK to broadcast from 150 constituency results. Many of these feeds featured on the Sky News election night coverage but the main election programme couldn’t reach every count, particularly when results were coming in thickand-fast on the night. However, second screen users were able to select the live stream of any vote count on their mobile device. Richard Evans states: We were streaming live video on YouTube and on our digital platforms. We wanted to give people a window into what was happening at their count or other counts nearby. These were raw video feeds, so presenters and reporters were not necessarily talking down the camera to people. But viewers could see fly-on-the-wall what was happening at the counts. They could be listening live when the results were declared. This meant that people could choose to listen to political acceptance speeches in full without moving away from the central coverage on the first screen. This innovation enhances user agency as it gives viewers the power to construct their own news agenda, decide their own news values and, effectively, create their own running order for second screen viewing. In August 2015 Sky News and LiveU set a new world record for the most concurrent live streams during its election night coverage.

Participating in the news agenda


Scottish Referendum (#indyref) The Scottish Referendum was a unique event no matter which side of the debate you were on. The political landscape in Scotland changed dramatically during the first 15 years of the new millennium. After years of Labour dominance north of the border, the SNP held power at Holyrood from 2007. Since then the enthusiasm and momentum for Independence has grown. The long-awaited referendum was held on 18 September 2014, after more than four years of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government in Westminster. For the first time ever, 16- and 17-year-olds were given the vote in the referendum and the turnout was huge: 84.6 per cent of registered voters in Scotland. In Scotland, two late night in-depth current affairs programmes went head-to-head during the Independence Referendum campaign. STV launched Scotland Tonight (STV, 2011–) in October 2011 presented by Rona Dougall and John MacKay. In May 2014, BBC Scotland announced its own flagship political programme: Scotland 2014 (BBC, 2014–) presented by the former Channel 4 News correspondent Sarah Smith. Both programmes actively encouraged second screen social media participation and debate. Every day a member of the Scotland Tonight production team was dedicated to social media promotion and viewer engagement. This included posting out the details of the programme in the afternoon, highlighting the guests on the show and inviting viewers to respond with questions and issues for the studio discussion. According to Matt Roper, the digital editor at STV: Scotland Tonight exists outside the programme. There’s a whole Twitter and Facebook conversation before the programme. There are plenty of people who interact with the programme but don’t necessarily watch it on any given day. They’ll interact with it, they’ll talk to the journalists involved and they’ll suggest ideas. A lot of people who come on Scotland Tonight are people who we have just spoken to on Twitter or on Facebook. That was always the idea behind Scotland Tonight to make sure that it was a multi-platform programme. As a late night discussion programme Scotland Tonight encouraged second screen users to keep up this participation during transmission too. To respond quickly to ongoing social activity the presenters had to be second screen users themselves: they took a tablet into the studio to respond to social media participation in real time. Mashable content Viewers did create some astute and imaginative UGC content for TV news programmes during the Scottish Referendum campaign. For example, when US President Barack Obama responded to a question at the G7 summit in


Participating in the news agenda

June 2014, he said Britain should remain ‘a strong, robust, united and effective partner’. Within minutes of this statement on TV, social media was alive with supporters of the no campaign Better Together claiming that this meant that the American President was a supporter of the ‘No’ campaign. Some inventive social media users also mashed up Obama’s ‘Audacity of Hope’ 2008 election posters replacing the word Hope with ‘Nope’. Supporters on both sides of the political divide produced content in this way. Better Together aired a TV advert which featured a mother at home in the kitchen pondering over the risks of Scottish Independence whilst her husband was at work. This was seized on by Yes supporters who quickly subverted the ad with a new Twitter hashtag: #patronisingBTlady a phrase which then trended in the UK. Yes supporters even used stills from the video to create a meme complete with sarcastic headings: ‘I haven’t got the time to think – so I will just vote no’ wrote one. ‘I’ve not got time to pay attention to politics, celebrity big brother is on’ commented another. Such engagement showed a quick response to TV content and demonstrates that social media and second screen users were playful, satirical and inventive in their comments and engagement. However, this was becoming a dangerous and uncertain new world for political campaigners, advertisers and even TV news companies themselves. When users at home are able to commandeer online content, mash it together with other media forms and share the results this can subvert and undermine the original media message. As Aram Sinnreich (2010) argues: ‘In the hothouse atmosphere of the networked age, a myriad of new cultural practices have blossomed and bloomed – practices that have no place in the taxonomy of modernity’s prim gardens’ (p.69). However, this was not just a game that second screen users at home played. News providers themselves were motivated to break up ‘modernity’s prim gardens’ in a bid to push online engagement and attract younger viewers. During the 2015 election campaign the Sky News team produced the General Affection video: a mash-up of politicians singing a song. Richard Evans explains the reason: We wanted to persuade people that Sky News has a lighter tone and we tackle serious subjects but we do it in a more fun and engaging way compared to our rivals. At the end of the day it was a funny video and people share funny videos especially if it’s about something that the nation is talking about anyway. So it really resonated with people because of the timing and because it was a parody by a serious news publication. Agenda setting Established agenda-setting theories assert that traditional media organisations have the power and influence to dictate the significant issues of the moment. In studying a US political campaign in the 1970s, McCombs

Participating in the news agenda


and Shaw (1972) argued that ‘the media are the major primary sources of national political information’ and that voters do not ‘have alternate means of observing the day-to-day changes in the political arena’ (p.185). Now, not only does the second screen provide users with a myriad of ways to observe ‘day-to-day changes’ but it also enables users to participate in public discourse and have a direct influence on events. For example, a social media campaign was launched to encourage people to sign a petition to stop the US presidential candidate Donald Trump from entering the UK. At the time it was the largest petition ever in the UK with 579,468 online signatures and Parliament was forced to debate the motion. The BBC political discussion programme Question Time (BBC1, 1979–) has some of the most active and politically engaged audiences on the second screen. The programme’s Twitter hashtag #bbcqt is an online forum for discussion, comment and opinion. Anstead and O’Loughlin (2011) have created a term for these active participants in a current affairs show. The ‘viewertariat’ are ‘viewers who use online publishing platforms and social tools to interpret, publicly comment on, and debate a television broadcast while they are watching it’ (2011, p.441). It’s not only viewers who are able to use second screen social media activity to bypass traditional media outlets in order to exert direct influence: politicians too have this power. In America, one study focused on Twitter and the 2012 Presidential Primaries in the search for a ‘New Avenue for influence’. The research suggests that ‘social media can be used as a tool by politicians and the public to communicate an agenda that, in turn, shapes the media agenda’ (Conway et al., 2015, p.374). In this new digital paradigm, professional journalists may have lost their traditional gatekeeping role but they still do have an important part to play in interpreting and disseminating news stories: Have traditional media completely lost their agenda-setting power? Our study suggests that the answer is no. Candidates are still going to look to the media for legitimacy, just as social media users are going to look to the media for information on unobtrusive issues. (Conway et al., 2015, p.374) Other researchers have also highlighted the limited impact of social networking sites on intermedia agenda setting. Groshek and Groshek (2013) have argued ‘it seems the potential for SNSs to directly shape media agendas does exist but only sporadically and on certain topics’ (p.24). #Indyref TV debates On 5 August 2014, STV broadcast the first live leaders’ debate of the Scottish Independence referendum campaign. In front of a studio audience of 350, the First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Yes Campaign, Alex Salmond, took on Alistair Darling, a former Labour chancellor and leader of the


Participating in the news agenda

Better Together campaign. As the General Election debates from 2010 had demonstrated, live political broadcast events can enthuse an audience and inspire participation among social media and second screen viewers. The STV debate was no exception to this rule. The STV production team created a unique hashtag to serve as an online meeting point for discussion around the debate: #ScotDecides. This trended worldwide during the night: a fact which provides evidence that people were engaging with two screens during the broadcast itself. Overall there were 186,267 tweets around the debate, this peaked at more than 2,000 during the cross-examination section of the debate itself (Geary, 2014). Joanna Geary was the head of News Partnerships at Twitter in the UK: Second Screen events are absolutely the biggest moments for us on Twitter. When it comes to journalists there’s no better way for building followers so live event tweeting is by far and away the best. Live event tweets of large court cases with multi-national interest are always the best, so the televised second screen experience for the Oscar Pistorius trial was massive, but all live events tend to drive massive follower growth. (Geary, 2015) The social activity around the Independence Referendum debate gave second screen users, journalists and political campaign teams an insight into which arguments were gaining traction with viewers at home. At one stage Alex Salmond referred to a past comment from Labour MP Andy Burnham about driving in Scotland. The MP himself tweeted during the programme: ‘Can’t believe a weak joke I once made about Scotland driving on right has actually been quoted by Salmond. He’s lost the plot’ (Burnham, 2014). Matt Roper from STV says, We had politicians in real time rebutting a story that was happening on TV. As journalists we can pick up on that. We had our presenter John MacKay talk about that afterwards and it got a good response from the audience. Twitter activity peaked as First Minister Alex Salmond repeatedly asked Alistair Darling if Scotland could be a successful independent country. Activity rose again when Mr Darling challenged the First Minister to outline his ‘Plan B’ for Scotland’s currency in the event that the Bank of England refused a fiscal union. As a result each campaign could use this backchannel second screen social engagement to analyse which parts of their message needed refining before the next televised debate. When BBC Scotland held its own televised #indyref leaders’ debate nearly three weeks after STV, Alex Salmond came prepared with an answer to the ‘Plan B’ question. There were a total of 255,559 tweets during this debate

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with the highest spike (in terms of tweets per minute) coming as Alex Salmond questioned Mr Darling about creating jobs. The word ‘hypocrite’ was the fifth most ‘buzzed about’ topic on Facebook (Ross, 2014). This referred to a moment when an audience member challenged Alistair Darling over having ‘fancy dinners’ with private health companies. Even though they may not be hosting the debate, other broadcasters could get involved too. Sky News, for example, teamed up with a company Fullfact, an independent fact checking company, who based themselves in the Sky News room during the debate. ‘They helped us put out facts and figures as politicians were talking about them in real time,’ says Richard Evans from Sky News. ‘It was during the BBC Scottish debate that we put out a graph which measured Scottish unemployment rates compared with the rest of the UK.’ In this way, the second screen provides a platform around which news providers can team up with other partners to produce content and services designed to enhance the viewing and participatory experience of the audience. Facebook and Twitter are the dominant social media platforms when it comes to talking about TV and engaging in an online debate around content. However, they are not the only ones. During the Scottish Independence referendum Channel 4 News chose to embrace Snapchat and WhatsApp too in a bid to reach out to younger viewers. ‘Rather than boring graphics, swing-o-meters and men in suits on the TV, we’re doing something different,’ stated the Channel 4 News website promoting the new venture (Channel 4 News, 2014). These new social platforms require a shift in the mindset of the news provider: in terms of content, language and the opportunities for interaction. Trolls and flaming As we’ve discussed, much of the User Generated Content around the independence referendum was creative and satirical as well as being, at times, barbed and pointed. A number of research studies (Jane, 2015; McCosker, 2013) have examined the increasing occurrence of so-called troll activity and ‘flaming’ in online communications. Flaming has been defined as ‘deliberate, computer mediated messages that have the intent or insulting an individual or group’ (Harvey, 2014, p.516). In Scotland, during the referendum campaign, there were a small number of offensive messages from social media users on both sides of the debate. This was the dark side of the online engagement around #indyref. It came to a head on 6 September 2014 when it was revealed that J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, had donated £1 million to the Better Together campaign. The author tweeted: ‘People before flags, answers not slogans, reason not ranting, unity not enmity #bettertogether’ (Rowling, 2014). Within hours Ms Rowling was subjected to a number of abusive online messages. Some of the less extreme messages include John Linklater who tweeted: ‘I’ve waited all my life for this. I don’t want Scottish Freedom scuppered by a selfish


Participating in the news agenda

narrow-minded little Englander #jkrowling #indyref’. Then, Scotland’s charity regulator launched an investigation into the Dignity Project charity after a message was written on its Twitter feed about J.K. Rowling: ‘What a #bitch after we gave her shelter in our city when she was a single mum.’ The charity issued a statement claiming the account had been hacked. The moderator of the Church of Scotland, John Chalmers, released a statement saying he feared ‘something ugly may be beginning to permeate the independence debate’ (Chalmers, 2014). The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, described the so-called ‘cybernats’ as ‘unpleasant and unseemly’ (cited in Dominiczak, 2014). However, the tone and depth of the online debate depended on the interactive platform being used. In the autumn of 2014 one study examined the tone and nature of the online discussion around the independence referendum. The research looked at the BBC’s moderated ‘Have Your Say’ online discussion threads and reported ‘low’ levels of flaming here: ‘the conversations do show a relatively high level of civility with little stereotyping of individuals, low evidence of “flaming”, and a relatively satisfactory level of engagement with policy issues’ (Quinlan et al., 2015, p.193). The research also questioned whether online forums were a valuable resource for in-depth social deliberation or just a platform for opinion and individual grandstanding. ‘There is little engagement from participants in the discussion,’ the study concluded, ‘the forum is instead more comment driven than discussion focused.’ (Quinlan et al., 2014, p.202). Facebook Live In August 2015, Facebook launched its own live video streaming service: Facebook Live. At first it was only available to celebrities and other prominent Facebook users in America via the Mentions app. In those early days it was a way for public figures to open a real time window on their lives for their online followers. By December 2015 the Live service was rolled out to other Facebook users in other countries. At this point broadcasters and other news outlets embraced the new technology. Unlike Periscope, which is used by media outlets to broadcast short bursts of live content, Facebook Live enables streams up to 90 minutes long. It gives news viewers at home a raw, unedited insight ‘behind the scenes’ of a running story. For example, on 10 June 2016, the day of Mohammad Ali’s funeral, Fox 13 News in America broadcast a live video stream of the funeral procession through Louisville on Facebook. The potential here is significant: already there is scope to broadcast live on Facebook using small GoPro cameras and drone footage. As the use is extended it will increase the possibilities for enhanced video content in news and sports coverage. From the perspective of second screen interaction, the strength and significance of Facebook Live also lies in the opportunities for real time viewer participation. Facebook Live arrived too late to play a part in the UK

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General Election 2015, but it did come to the fore in the debates around Brexit and the EU referendum campaign a year later. On 11 May 2016, ITV News Europe Editor James Mates was sitting down to dinner at a restaurant in Oslo when he decided to do his first Facebook Live session by answering questions on the EU Referendum. It was relaxed, conversational and within 40 minutes he had answered dozens of questions from viewers at home. Within one month the video had attracted 21,000 views on Facebook with nearly 3,000 online comments. On Monday 6 June 2016, Channel 4 News experimented with the second screen potential of Facebook Live when it broadcast a large-scale debate about the EU Referendum. The production team brought together 200 18–25-year-olds in Norwich Castle to talk about the issues concerning young people. The broadcast started on Facebook 30 minutes before the terrestrial programme at 7pm and then continued throughout the one-hour show. It meant that viewers at home could watch the main broadcast on their TV sets and use their second screens to post comments and engage with the debate in the Facebook feed. Users were able to express their emotions too as Facebook has expanded the notion of the ‘like’ button to include ‘love’, ‘wow’, ‘Haha’ and ‘angry’ too. According to Fidji Simo, a Product Management Director at Facebook, ‘broadcasters and other viewers can get a sense of how people are feeling at different points during the live video – it’s like hearing the crowd applaud and cheer’ (Simo, 2016). The Facebook platform also gave the programme a life and a legacy beyond the live broadcast itself. It remained on the Channel 4 News Facebook page and acted as a forum for ongoing comments and engagement around EU issues. Within ten days of the live broadcast the 90-minute video had been watched more than 65,000 times. Facebook Live certainly has the potential to grow and boost second screen engagement for traditional TV broadcasters but it also provides a rival live video platform for other digital media companies too. BuzzFeed UK has been experimenting with Facebook Live since February 2016. It already had an active Facebook following of ‘digitally confident’ Millennials, so the new live feature was a good fit for the media company. BuzzFeed uses Facebook Live for irreverent items as well as serious news stories. For example, when thousands gathered outside the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho in June 2016 to show their support for the victims of the Orlando shootings, BuzzFeed sent a reporter who broadcast on Facebook Live for more than an hour at the scene. Four days after the Channel 4 News EU debate, BuzzFeed broadcast its own EU event on Facebook Live. Politicians on either side of the debate – David Cameron, Nicola Sturgeon, Nigel Farage and Penny Mordaunt – answered questions in front of a studio audience of young people. Andy Dangerfield is the Social Media Editor for News at BuzzFeed UK: ‘It was the biggest live video we’ve done at BuzzFeed so far,’ he says. ‘It was a huge high


Participating in the news agenda

profile event and it was amazing to get the line up of politicians we did’ (author interview, June 2016). From the outset the debate aimed to get young social media users participating at home. There was a ‘spokesperson’ for Facebook viewers in the studio who put their questions to the politicians directly. The broadcast itself was different from a traditional TV debate. According to Dangerfield: The tone we set was very different, our presenters are younger, they swore a bit and it was far more casual and relaxed. That meant that the audience, both the studio audience and the Facebook audience, were put at ease and it felt like more of a conversation. They felt more comfortable challenging the politicians. There were, in fact, a number of swear words used by presenters and audience members during the event. If this had been a TV broadcast before the watershed, the programme would have breached Ofcom rules on taste. However, there are no such restrictions for online live streaming broadcasts. BuzzFeed also created software which turned the data from Facebook’s emotional response buttons into a real time graphic on screen. ‘We developed a way we could monitor and display the live reactions on the screen’ says Dangerfield. ‘Whenever a politician was talking we put this “sentiment tracker” graphic on the screen so people could see the audience reaction: whether they loved or were made angry by what the politicians were saying.’ In many ways this was similar to the ‘worm’ that ITV News had developed with an in-house focus group during the election debates of 2010. However, BuzzFeed’s graphic illustrated the real time response of tens of thousands of people watching live on Facebook. The event itself happened on a Friday afternoon and by the end of the weekend the four Facebook videos, one for each politician involved, had been viewed by a total of 7.5 million viewers according to BuzzFeed. This EU debate can’t be described as a second screen event: the twin acts of viewing and commenting happened on a single screen. However, it does demonstrate what is possible for dual-screen interaction as well as the threats and challenges posed by mobile platforms to traditional television itself. Multiplatform engagement As we have seen, the growing popularity of mobile platforms has attracted a variety of new providers into this media marketplace. Nearly every mainstream national newspaper in the UK has developed a mobile app offering multimedia content. Apple has embedded an aggregated news service in its iOS9 operating system. Vice News and BuzzFeed are both relative newcomers in this digital news ecosystem but they are gaining traction in terms of viewers and reputation. Ed Fraser from Channel 4 News says, ‘Young people will seek out news from new digital disrupters like Vice

Participating in the news agenda


News, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Vocative and others and we have got to be competitive in that space.’ Matt Roper from STV News shares that sentiment: ‘The pace of change is exceptional,’ he says. Five years ago, with the dominance of Google, everyone was focused on search engine optimisation. Then BuzzFeed came along and it’s all been about social sharing. STV was quick on that trend. We knew it would be huge and it felt right for us. Engaging with our audience was a good idea. However, as news providers reach out beyond their own websites and apps to engage audiences in other social forums, they cede an element of control over viewer activity. In this scenario, news content jostles alongside the shared video of a friend, for example, or personal photographs, tailored adverts and even mobile games inside an individual’s social feed. In 2015, Google launched the Digital News Initiative to help support innovation and creativity in mobile news. ‘Gone are the days of when newspapers only felt they competed with newspapers, and didn’t think about broadcasters or visa versa’ says Madhav Chinnappa, Google’s head of Strategic Relations in News. ‘The reality is we’re competing with everybody, everybody is competing with everybody, and Candy Crush seems to be winning’ (Chinnappa, 2015).

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Ofcom (2015) Communications Market Report 2015 (August). Available at: http:// Parmelee, J. H. (2013) Political journalists and Twitter: influences on norms and practices. Journal of Media Practice 14: 291–305. Pew Research Centre (2013) Digital. The State of the News Media 2013: An Annual Report on American Journalism. Washington, DC: Pew Research Centre. Quinlan, S., Shephard, M. & Paterson, L. (2015) Online discussion and the 2014 Scottish independence referendum: flaming keyboards or forums for deliberation? Electoral Studies 38: 192–205. Ross, J. (2014) Social Media reacts: Darling v Salmond II. BBC News. Available at: Rowling, J. K. (2014) @jk_rowling Twitter message. Available at: https://twitter. com/jk_rowling/status/508175858541277184?lang=en-gb Rudd, A. (2015) Paris terror attacks: Twitter breaks as people all over the world turn to social media for news. Mirror, 14 November. Available at: news/technology-science/technology/paris-terror-attacks-twitter-breaks-6831882 Simo, Fidji (2016) Introducing New Ways to Create, Share and Discover Live Video on Facebook. Facebook newsroom article. Available at: news/2016/04/introducing-new-ways-to-create-share-and-discover-livevideo-on-facebook/ Sinnreich, A. (2010) Mashed Up: Music Technology and the Rise of Configurable Culture. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press. Sundar, S. S. & Limperos, A. M. (2013) Uses and Grats 2.0: new gratifications for new media. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 57(4): 504–525.


Factual television Reinventing the digital public space

Television documentaries can change society. They can alter our preconceptions and prejudices of the world. Yet sometimes film-makers and producers want to enact societal change that is more material and more quantifiable. In this sense, change could be raising money for a good cause, recruiting people for a mass science project or reforming the law itself. This is where factual TV can become part of a social campaign. Yet, television viewers have notoriously short attention spans. A factual documentary might highlight the plight of children in Syria, for example, and make an emotional impact at the time it is broadcast. However, how many viewers then remember to pick up the phone later in the evening and donate to a relevant cause? How many remember to go online and sign a petition? Second screen interaction enables viewers to participate in the issues raised by factual programmes immediately and this helps amplify their impact. In 2010 a series of factual programmes on Channel 4 led to a change in the EU Common Fisheries Policy. The chef and TV presenter Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall launched Fish Fight (Channel 4, 2010) to campaign against strict EU fishing quotas which meant that 50 per cent of European fishing hauls were regularly being discarded back into the sea, dead. On one level this was a traditional campaign: the Channel 4 factual programmes were used to spread the message and encouraged people to unite behind the cause by signing petitions and writing to their MP. It didn’t stop there, FearnleyWhittingstall joined old and new media forms together into a hybrid media project to find new active audiences and extend the reach of his campaign. In 2010, the concept of second screen was still nascent, but this was effectively a dual-screen experience. Social forums and multimedia content were designed to link with the factual programmes before, during and after transmission. There were online quizzes and a dedicated app with photos, video clips and information. The TV programmes were structured with specific ‘calls to action’ designed to seize on the passion and momentum of the programme itself in order to get viewers interacting with the issue during the broadcast. As a result, Fish Fight gained 40,000 petition sign ups during one single advert break (Fish Fight, 2014). Beyond signing the EU petition, Fearnley-Whittingstall wanted to put pressure on UK supermarkets to alter

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their fish sourcing policies too. In one Channel 4 episode he asked viewers to tweet their supermarkets during the broadcast to find out what their shop-bought prawns had been eating. There were 16 thousand tweets during the ad break which rose to 30,000 over the following ten minutes. Twitter’s head of TV Partnerships, Dan Biddle, commented: ‘Fish Fight made a great use of Twitter’s live, public and conversational nature to activate and involve their viewers in the show’s campaign … with impressive results’ (cited in Fish Fight, 2014). In the end the bare statistics are a testament to the impact of the Fish Fight hybrid media campaign: it had attracted 255,000 Facebook fans and 692,000 views on YouTube. Forty-two thousand people took part in the online Fish Fight quiz and more than one hundred thousand viewers downloaded the iPhone app. Eight hours of factual programmes on Channel 4 were viewed by three million people every week and rebroadcast in 28 other countries. MPs voiced their support of the issue on Twitter, 870,000 people signed the petition, 225,000 emails were sent and 220,000 people tweeted their MEP (Fish Fight, 2014). It was all too much for European politicians. Three years on from the beginning of the campaign and the EU Common Fisheries Policy was reformed to ban fish discards. Fish Fight demonstrated the transformative power that is possible when the emotional impact of television joins up with the interactive and participatory functions of digital platforms.

‘Building Digital Britain’ In 2004, amidst the debate around Charter Renewal, the BBC published a report which emphasised and celebrated its interactive services in factual content. It promised to ‘increase its commitment to trusted factual programming’ and use ‘innovative techniques to transform understanding of difficult subjects’ (BBC, 2004, p.74). This was in the heyday of BBC Red Button services where history and education factual programming, in particular, had significant potential for enhanced content: ‘interactive technologies are transforming people’s ability to learn in their own pace and in their own time’ (BBC, 2004, p.73). To the BBC at this time, the notion of digital convergence was less about a technical process and more a statement of values in the new millennium. The creation of a ‘digital public space’ was fast becoming a central tenet in the BBC’s public service remit. This reimagined the notional area where the internet and TV came together as a public space that was at once informative, interactive, social, entertaining and participatory. As Lisa Parks argues, broadcasters and producers could ‘reimagine the television screen as a democratic internet portal that gives everyone equal access to knowledge about computer technologies and cyberculture’ (Parks, 2004, p.143). In practice this involved creating large scale multiplatform projects which viewers could participate in. In 2004 the BBC produced a number of programmes themed to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In hindsight they were


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some of the earliest versions of second screen experiences within factual television. Two programmes in the series, Dunkirk (BBC, 2004) and D’Day (BBC, 2004), were multimedia immersive experiences which brought together documentary narratives with dramatic reconstructions. There were online links, a mobile phone game and a ‘People’s War’ chat room which encouraged viewers to tell their own experiences of war. According to Gray and Bell (2013) ‘These programmes broke new ground as 360 projects which combined dramatic reconstructions, archive footage and eyewitness testimony for the television screen with an interactive facility’ (p.94). At this time, the pursuit of Interactive TV (iTV) was part of the BBC’s role of educating audiences about technology and thereby democratising digital spaces. Bennett (2008) argues ‘iTV worked not only to further the aims of the genre, by acting as strategies of authentication, but also those of the BBC in “bringing audiences closer to programmes” and, in turn, digital spaces’ (p. 283).

360-degree commissioning By 2006, the BBC had been given a new responsibility to prepare for the future by ‘Building Digital Britain’ and playing ‘a leading role in technological development’ (DCMS, 2006, p.6). The digital, interactive future necessitated the development of a new management structure at the BBC. In the summer of 2006 a new Future Media and Technology Division was announced at the BBC to lead the way in the innovation around content for digital multiplatforms. The BBC declared that ‘the best content should be made available on every platform at the audience’s convenience’ but to do this the BBC needed to make changes which ‘will enable 360-degree commissioning and production and ensure creative coherence and editorial leadership across all platforms and media’ (BBC Press Office, 2006). The development of 360-degree commissioning was not unique to the BBC, it was also embraced by other UK broadcasters at the same time. It became something of an industry buzzword in the years 2006 and 2007 and applied both to the TV production and commissioning process. According to Doyle, ‘A 360-degree approach means that new ideas for content are considered in the context of a wide range of distribution possibilities and not just linear television’ (2010, p.2). The new structure was supposed to enforce a new era of ‘joined-up-thinking’ in digital broadcasting. Commissioning editors and producers could no longer treat television as a privileged silo. Instead investment of time and energy had to be spread across the range of digital outlets. Niki Strange (2011) argues that by 2007 ‘multi-platform projects were being viewed as “a matter or course” for a BBC seeking … to provide linked content in all the places one might want it’ (p.150).

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Factual experiments in second screen There are not many people within the UK television industry that talk about a 360-degree commissioning process any more – it feels like an outdated concept. However, the 360-degree model did lay the organisational groundwork for later experiments in multi-platform interactive projects. Whilst the language around 360-degree commissioning has fallen away, the ethos of the ‘digital public space’ endured and underpinned the BBC’s renewed interactive ventures into explicit second screen activities in factual programmes. In early 2010 the BBC Research and Development department carried out a general study into the potential of companion screen experiences. The researchers carried out a home study on a cross-section of a representative audience which included working and retired households, homes with children and houseshares. In each case viewers were asked to keep a diary of their mobile screen use and were interviewed about their viewing habits. One of the key aims of this research was to discover what impact multiple screens had on family life. Did they isolate people or bring them closer together? The BBC made a number of conclusions from the study. The first was that ‘the ubiquity and pervasiveness of screens was confirmed’ (Glancy & Graham, 2010, p.10). Second screen use, the researchers discovered, was happening whether the broadcaster intended it to or not. The BBC found evidence of ‘multiple, simultaneous and continuous display use’ and concluded ‘there was both “active” and “passive” engagement with screens’ (2010, p.11). The study found there was some concern from parents over children accessing inappropriate content on the second screen and that there could also be ‘disengagement through multiple screen use’ (2010, p.19). However, there was also strong evidence that families came together and collaborated around the second screen. In this sense it was a positive and shared experience. The BBC R&D study raised some of the same issues that researchers tackled at the end of the 1980s when they explored the impact of TV itself on family life. At that time David Morley argued that TV was a uniting force and a social medium: ‘Television viewing, the choices which shape it and the many social uses to which we put it, now turn out to be irrevocably active and social processes’ (1986, A few months after this study, managers at the BBC looked for a suitable TV programme with which to conduct a more detailed experiment of audience activity with second screens. BBC Autumnwatch (BBC, 2005–) was chosen because it already had a dedicated and active online following of viewers and fans. Autumnwatch, Springwatch and Winterwatch are popular, long-running programmes about observing, understanding and celebrating nature at home in the UK. They are broadcast at key times during the year to catch the best changing seasons of the British countryside. The BBC set up the large scale TV Companion Experiment to examine how audiences engaged with multiplatform content and, crucially, what impact the second screen had on their primary viewing experiences. Producers had


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noticed that there was a peak in website use during the live programme itself so it was likely that viewers were already second screening to an extent (and were therefore likely to be warm to the companion experience). Aside from this, Autumnwatch was also an opportunity to apply the lessons from the first study and use companion screens to bring viewers together where families could learn more about nature and domestic wildlife. This is something that happened during the Autumnwatch experiment: families shared their mobile devices, children liked having control over the screen, people talked about the show and kids stopped disappearing into their rooms. For the trial the BBC picked 360 ‘novice participants’ to take part in the project at home. Some of the group were regular viewers of Autumnwatch, others were natural history lovers and the rest were technology enthusiasts. Tim Scoones is the executive producer of Autumnwatch and Springwatch and he describes the reason for the second screen experiment: We looked at a range of ways that we could go beyond the television to keep inspiring and fostering that conversation. We wanted to start the audience talking to us and talking to each other. Then we needed to respond to the response. So that conversation itself became part of what we did and it started to affect the TV programme. (Author interview, September 2015) The BBC R&D department had developed a dedicated mobile companion app designed for tablets, phones and laptops. It was the culmination of the department’s work on what it called ‘Orchestrated Media’. In February 2011 the BBC R&D Blog stated: ‘“Second screen”, “two screen” and “three screen” are concepts that broadcasters and other media providers are just starting to get to grips with’ (Kramskoy, 2011). For the purposes of this experiment the BBC defined second screen as ‘applications and devices displaying something that is contextual and in some way synchronised with the broadcast media’ (Spenger et al., 2011). During the live Autumnwatch programme the companion screen contained synchronised, enhanced content on animals and habitations which were linked to the footage and discussion on the primary screen. There were photos and videos, graphics, maps and even an interactive video of a flying kingfisher which people could animate by dragging their finger across the screen. It was a significant logistical challenge which required a change in the production workflow for the programme. Tim Scoones was the executive producer on Autumnwatch and he describes the live interactive show from his perspective: I had the extraordinary experience of going through a live TV show in the control room gallery, doing a rehearsal just before we go live and actually having to draw a big line down the middle of my notes because

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I had two screens to think about now. I was looking at the TV but I was also looking at what the team were putting forward live onto this tablet experience that was happening concurrently. (Author interview, September 2015) At the end of the show the second screen companion reverted to an archive page which the viewer could explore in their own time. According to an internal BBC presentation, this archive page ‘provides a seamless onward journey to deeper content in Wildlife finder, keeping users engaged with the brand beyond the programme’. It said the BBC conducted the experiment because they viewed second screen usage as an emerging trend which provided an ‘opportunity for engaging, personalised experiences’ (Spenger et al., 2011). The BBC had been inspired by successful dual screen apps like Million Pound Drop and thought it had highlighted a gap in the market around factual TV.

The companion experiment findings Overall the results were positive for proponents of second screen projects: 92 per cent of participants said that the companion ‘gave them a greater understanding of the topics in the programme’. According to the BBC presentation on the trial: ‘the audience “GOT IT!”’ (Spenger et al., 2011). About half of the viewers accessed the second screen content during the programme whilst the other half waited until the programme was over. Producers also consciously limited the amount of material on the second device so that viewers didn’t feel too ‘bombarded’ with information. According to Theo Jones, writing on the BBC R&D blog: ‘Second screen applications should balance the frequency of updates to retain the user’s interest, but not overwhelm them’ (Jones, 2011). One 10-year-old child gave this very useful bit of feedback to producers: ‘sometimes it [the TV programme] is not the best, but this made me love it because it’s so interactive in the boring bits’ (Spenger et al., 2011). Just as the play-along apps in entertainment shows are designed to keep viewers engaged during the adverts, a factual companion app can keep people watching even if they are less interested in a particular item or segment in the show. The BBC describes this aspect as being ‘a scoop for catching people who might otherwise drift away’ (Spenger et al., 2011). However, in the end the Autumnwatch companion app wasn’t released to the waiting public. What was the reason behind the decision? Beyond the positive feedback, the BBC also concluded that although ‘the audience got the concept, they didn’t quite know how to use it’ (Spenger, 2011). The pros and cons of second screen use seemed to be finely balanced. On the positive side, confident users did not get too easily distracted or anxious by the device: they knew they were able to look at second screen content later if they wanted. However, for new or inexperienced mobile platform users, the dual screen was, at times, a distraction. The synchronised experience also


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had an impact on the pace and structure of the TV programme itself. It was logistically and technically demanding: digital production teams had to create content for the companion app, much of which would need to be produced close to or during transmission itself. It was an expensive and time consuming process and the BBC R&D department came out of the process with the aim of pursuing a ‘more sustainable and automated content model for second screen’ (Jones, 2011).

BBC second screen evolves The outcome of the 2010 TV Companion Experiment was a significant moment which defined the way the BBC approached second screen opportunities over the next five years. At a time when the BBC’s commercial channels were embracing programme-specific companion apps, the BBC became reluctant to develop dedicated apps on the second screen. There were some more closed R&D trials: notably on the BBC Secret Fortune quiz around the National Lottery in 2011. Even then the experiment was largely focused on the technology: the API interface and the audio fingerprinting technology to ensure synchronisation. It wasn’t until the BBC launched the Antiques Roadshow play-along app that the BBC demonstrated itself to be ready to commit to a new dedicated second screen app. Executive Producer Tim Scoones describes what he learned from the Autumnwatch trial: What became really clear for that particular platform and that particular experience was that people are watching television. It’s common sense to say it, but it’s kind of foolish to utterly interrupt someone whilst they are watching a television programme that has been deliberately designed to be an experience that they can consume in real time. Tim Scoones and his team did use the results of the trial to adapt their thinking around audience participation and the second screen. He states: What did work I can boil down to two words: Glance and Favourite. If I can glance at something like a map that’s adding more information then that’s really interesting. And favourite: if you can say ‘yes I want more on that’ then that works really well. That’s then a companion not a competitor to the television experience. Since the 2010 trial, the Autumnwatch programmes have been some of the most successful BBC factual programmes in terms of engaging viewers on the second screen. However, this hasn’t taken place on a dedicated companion app. Instead, some of this happened on the website, on the BBC Red Button service and across social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. The momentum for this came from three different sources: the viewers themselves, the production team and the programme’s

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partners which include institutions and organisations that have a stake in conservation and the natural world. First, the viewers: Springwatch and Autumnwatch have loyal and dedicated viewers and the programme team has nurtured their organic interactive engagement with the show. Many of them are amateur naturalists: they are ramblers and hikers, birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. They are not necessarily the young digitally confident viewers that Ofcom highlights as regular mobile users. However, despite this, Springwatch viewers are clearly participants in nature and they want to take part in the programme itself. They actively post comments to online articles on the programme website and they upload their wildlife photographs to the Springwatch Flickr account which lets the BBC use the images without cost or condition. It means the programme team have been able to put together an online gallery of User Generated Content (UGC) and create an interactive visual mosaic of the changing seasons in the UK. Springwatch producers have always been aware of their audience’s desire for enhanced content. As the show is dedicated to exploring and observing nature in action, hidden cameras are placed in birds’ nests, atop trees, in foxes’ dens and rabbit warrens (to name just a few locations). Viewers can choose which feeds they want to watch at any given time. This had been available on the BBC’s Red Button service and can also be done via the show’s website. What emerges is a sophisticated second screen experience where enhanced online content is woven together with organic social material without the need for a companion app.

Partner involvement Despite the changing emphasis in the nature of second screen projects at the BBC, the principle of a digital public space has underpinned the corporation’s thinking towards interactive projects. David Hendy argues that developing a shared digital public space is ‘about finding new, interactive ways of creating national “conversations”. What this means in practice can be seen if we look at the emerging idea of the BBC as a leading “Memory Institution”’ (2013, p.124). Making best use of archive content is another area where the second screen has potential around factual programmes. According to the Controller of Archive Development at the BBC, Tony Ageh, in 2011, the corporation had more than 400,000 complete TV programmes, 27 archive centres in the UK which includes six million stills and photos, four and a half million items of sheet music and one hundred thousand hours of sports footage. Ageh said ‘It represents a unique and priceless portrayal of the 20th century’ (Ageh, 2011). For him, the notion of a digital public space means ‘the BBC working closely with public institutions and other partners to create an open, online environment in which publicly-owned cultural media and related materials would be held, found, used, shared and amplified’ (Ageh, 2011). This doesn’t just mean making old BBC programmes available for catch up on the iPlayer


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and it goes beyond simply digitising the archive content and putting it up online. It means finding digital platforms to showcase all the material, creating the mechanism which allows people to share, debate and add to the material and working with partner institutions to put the archive in context. If this new digital service can also link to and support television programmes in real time then this is where the second screen could come in. As we have seen in the TV entertainment genre, one of the major benefits of The X Factor companion app, for example, is the ability it affords ITV to create partnerships with advertisers and sponsors. This collaboration clearly benefits both broadcaster and advertiser and, to the extent that viewers choose to engage with adverts and get access to special consumer deals, it can benefit them too. In the UK, the BBC has a defined public service remit and can’t embark on commercial activities even on mobile platforms. However, this doesn’t and shouldn’t stop the BBC using second screen activities to link up with other partner organisations to enhance viewer experience and understanding. On 7 September 2015 the BBC Director General Tony Hall set out his vision for the BBC post-2016 Charter Renewal. He chose the Science Museum in London for the speech and the location itself is crucial for understanding his message. Lord Hall accepted that funding cuts meant that the BBC would ‘inevitably have to either close or reduce some services’ (BBC, 2015). However, he also revealed plans for the BBC to help Britain become ‘the greatest cultural force in the world’. He announced the creation of a new Ideas Service where the BBC would become an ‘open online platform’. According to Lord Hall, ‘Our new, open BBC will act as a curator bringing the best from Britain’s great cultural institutions and thinkers to everyone’ (BBC, 2015). The ongoing second screen activity around Springwatch and Autumnwatch could be seen as a model example for what Lord Hall is talking about. Tim Scoones agrees: ‘Tony Hall’s announcement is being described as the ideas service. A service for ideas. We are being entrepreneurial with knowledge. We are going and finding sources of knowledge and getting them associated with our core service to the audience.’ To do this the Springwatch production team joined forces with several organisations to enhance both the enhanced content and the social experience on Twitter and Facebook. One of these partner organisations was the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). BBC producers included the BTO in the planning and structure of the show from the outset. Paul Stancliffe is the media manager for the BTO: Each day they give us the TV running order and then we prepare a number of tweets that add more value to what they are discussing on the programme. They might talk about cuckoos and say that cuckoo migration hasn’t gone very well this year. Then we can provide quite a lot of background information if people want more. That daily running order is really important to us. (Author interview, October 2015)

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The BTO created fact sheets, maps and other interactive material and then released the content via social media sites at significant and relevant moments during the live show. Essentially, this is the same idea as the Autumnwatch companion app experiment in 2010: viewers received added value content synced to the show itself. However, this time much of the enhanced content is created by expert partner organisations and so the cost to the BBC itself is reduced. The BBC is also able to harness the research and expertise of its partners and the programme grows in authority as a result. For example, in 2011 the BTO embarked on a major research project where it tagged several cuckoos in order to study how migration patterns altered according to weather and environmental conditions. Paul Stancliffe describes the project: One of the first five birds tagged in 2011 was named after Chris Packham [the Springwatch presenter] and another bird was named after Martin Hughes-Games. So there was a bit of rivalry on the programme to see which cuckoo would make it to Africa first. That really kick-started that project. It got it out there in front of people and it captured their imagination. And ever since day one people have been sponsoring these cuckoos, paying for satellite time, paying for texts and enabling us to take that research further. Thanks to the show, Chris the Cuckoo became one of the most famous birds in Britain and the issue of declining cuckoo numbers was kept in the spotlight. Beyond this the BTO depends on volunteers – people it calls citizen scientists – to observe and record numbers of birds in the UK. It has between 30 and 60 thousand people working on any one project. As Paul Stancliffe explains, ‘our relationship with Springwatch and Autumnwatch has really helped in engaging people in collecting scientific data. It’s absolutely incredible.’ This is how audience participation, fostered via online and second screen partnerships, happens within other factual programmes too. In many ways Stargazing Live (BBC, 2011–) is a similar format to Springwatch: it is a live event show with a passionate audience. In 2016 the programme’s website was able to offer live streaming of UK astronaut Tim Peake’s first spacewalk. Like Springwatch the programme featured a call-to-action to get its viewers to participate in a science project too. It wanted viewers to help examine 200,000 pulsar candidates: data that would normally take a research team six years of work. It took three day as viewers went through 35,000 observations in the first night and 55,000 the second. According to the project website: ‘The classifications you made – around 3 million in total! – allowed us to work out the probability that each candidate is a real pulsar’ (Pulsar Hunters, 2016).


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Channel 4 This type of audience interaction doesn’t just happen within BBC factual programmes. Channel 4 has its own public service remit and also has a long history of innovation in this area too. For example, in the programme The Psychopath Test (Channel 4, 2013–) Channel 4 teamed up with Professor Kevin Dutton from the University of Oxford and asked him to devise an online test, based on genuine psychological research, which would enable viewers to explore their own latent psychopathy. Marie James was the Channel 4 producer for the show: How do you teach people about psychopaths? What is a psychopath? We thought understanding the characteristics is a good way of knowing what they do. What is the difference between the way they think and how they act? So creating a test is a good way to give people an introduction that didn’t feel like teaching. It didn’t feel like relaying information. (Author interview, August 2015) The results of the online test were compelling: the data shows that readers of the Financial Times are more psychopathic than readers of the Channel 4 News website or the Guardian. Men have a higher psychopath score than women: 51 per cent to 40 per cent (Channel 4, 2013b). The online psychopath test was launched a number of weeks before the documentary was broadcast on Channel 4. The programme was scheduled in a one and a half hour slot on a Saturday night: which is a difficult time for a documentary. However, in the end the programme beat all expectations. Yet it’s popularity didn’t end there: the test stayed up online, people kept visiting and this also inspired them to watch the programme on the catch-up service 4oD. According to Marie James: Being able to do something in that second screen interactive space can really help, not just as a marketing tool, but to enhance the experience of watching, to make people a more participative viewer. That’s the bit I really like. You become a participant in this experience, not just sit back watching. This is something that Channel 4 had been experimenting with for a number of years. In March 2009 the channel planned to broadcast a big-budget documentary about fertility and the moment of conception. To illustrate the hazardous journey of 250 million sperm, the producers got together hundreds of runners, dressed all in white, and filmed them running over mountains, across obstacles and through buildings. It was a dramatic visual metaphor designed to make an old story come to life on screen. Beyond this, Channel 4 decided to create an online game and developed The Great Sperm

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Race. Players had to select one sperm and attempt to navigate it through tunnels and traps to the prize itself: the egg. ‘A lot of people played it’ says Marie James, ‘and a lot of people came to the programme because of it. But at the time we weren’t really thinking about the direct impact of these things. It wasn’t as easily measurable as it is now.’

Factual interactive games In 2012, BBC Three did something similar for their Britain Unzipped (BBC, 2012) strand of programmes. Like Channel 4’s The Psychopath Test, the production team created an online quiz which was designed to sow seeds of audience interest and inspire them to watch the programme at a future date. What came out of this online quiz was The Alternative Census, a programme which uncovered a host of bizarre and surprising facts about the UK population including: people with black hair are more likely to break the speed limit, the most ‘danceable’ teachers in the country are English teachers and 10 per cent of the South West have attended a Swingers party. Sarah Clay was the BBC commissioning editor for the programme: This was one example where I thought the online aspect felt genuinely integral to the show and it outperformed what we expected. It was a play-along, you filled in the questions and in the end it told you where you were on the scale of normality. The reason that it worked is that people are quite narcissistic. They like to know about themselves so there was a payoff for the audience. (Author interview, July 2015) It was also significant that the online quiz had a low barrier to entry. Viewers just had to answer ten questions and the results were fed into the show itself. The online experience was designed to be integral to the show itself. ‘We had about 1.2 million people playing along,’ says Sarah Clay, ‘for a BBC Three show that only had about 400,000 people watching the online uptake was massively high.’ For users, The Alternative Census felt like a game and that was vital to its success. It was easy to play, it enabled people to participate in the show, it taught them something interesting about themselves and the results were eminently sharable on social media. The converged space where the TV factual genre overlaps with entertainment is ripe for play-along second screen activity. As we’ve already seen, reality shows like Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity have fostered active play-along users on dedicated companion apps. In 2009, to accompany the fifth series of The Apprentice (BBC, 2005–) the BBC created a second screen online predictor game where players had to guess which contestants were going to be ‘fired’ next. Users were instructed to launch the predictor game 15 minutes before the show was broadcast on TV. At the bottom of the interactive screen there were thumbnail images of the contestants with a


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graph bar above each one. The graph represented the percentage of second screen users who predicted that person would be fired and it was updated every 10 seconds. Users could also see what their friends on social media thought about each contestant. However, the website was careful to state that this was ‘a just-for-fun online prediction game’ which ‘in no way affects the outcome of the programme’ (BBC Apprentice, 2009). The BBC evaluated the success of the Apprentice game and the results fed into the Companion Screen trials back in 2010. The initial finding concluded that social networks should be better used and also recommended that digital producers ‘make the interaction count e.g. votes that contribute to the outcome’. However, there was also a warning to future TV producers experimenting in this space: ‘Don’t distract from the “critical moments” – complement programme and user’ (Glancy & Graham, 2010, p.18). The challenge to make the second screen ‘complement’ a TV programme, rather than be a rival or a distraction to it, is a dilemma that has hampered the development of second screen interaction from the outset.

The drive to live Whilst the Apprentice Predictor was a synchronised play-along experience, many of the online games mentioned above did not require simultaneous participation alongside the TV broadcast. The Psychopath Test, The Great Sperm Race and The Alternative Census were all created in advance of transmission, they all linked to their TV programmes and the results of user interaction was fed into the content of the factual programmes. The online games also generated a social buzz which contributed to the profile of the TV show. However, if broadcasters are looking for real time engagement on the second screen it helps if there is a live event around which to build interaction. This event can be a manufactured TV show itself, like Britain’s Got Talent or The X Factor, and accompanied by all the hype and excitement that such programmes generate. The live aspect might instead be linked to an event in the real world, in which case the digital buzz is centred around two things: the live event itself and the hybrid media experience created to go with it. For Channel 4 these various elements aligned with a series of live programmes based around the Reburial of Richard III (Channel 4, 2015). ‘It’s not very often you get to bury a 500-year-old dead king. That was quite weird in itself,’ says Channel 4 producer Marie James. King Richard III’s remains, lost for more than half a millennium, were finally discovered under a car park in Leicester in 2012. The ceremonial reburial three years later had everything that TV producers could ask for: a dead king, a royal mystery, the ongoing debate around whether Richard was (or was not) a deformed villain, a beloved Shakespeare play and, of course, some celebrities thrown in for good measure (namely Benedict Cumberbatch, a distant relative of Richard III himself). The most significant element was the role played by the people of Leicester. As Marie James describes:

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It was a situation where we weren’t sure how the public would react. But what we did know is that it is about the people. You’ve come forward in time and you’re now able to tell a piece of medieval history from a normal person’s perspective. If journalism is the first draft of history, the Channel 4 project was about creating the first draft of the people’s history of Richard III’s reburial. To do this the Channel 4 factual team embraced some of the elements of live news reporting: they had a roving reporter on the street, talking to people and collating their version and opinion of the events. ‘They were able to talk to people, take their photograph, take a quote and post that almost immediately online,’ says Marie James. ‘That made it quite exciting and we were able to capture the sense of excitement and wonder that happened on the streets. It was very organic.’ History programmes were some of the first to embrace hybrid media forms and multiscreen interactions. We saw this with the BBC’s coverage of D-Day in 2006 when interactive TV was deployed to ‘facilitate the PSB goals of history programming’ (Bennett, 2008, p.283). By 2013, Channel 4 had developed a track record in creating multiplatform projects centred around a live programme. Over two days on 5 and 6 June 2013, it launched D-Day: As it Happens (Channel 4, 2013). It was described as ‘a real time 24-hour history event. Broadcast across TV, online and social media’ (Channel 4, 2013a). This was a unique and innovative second screen experience for viewers: Channel 4 had teamed up with the Second World War researcher Colin Henderson who had spent years analysing photographs, film footage and collating eyewitness accounts of D-Day. Using facial recognition techniques and analysing shadows in still photographs, he constructed a timeline of troop movements with remarkable detail and accuracy. For the first time Channel 4 was able to track, minute-by-minute, the progress of seven real individuals who played a part in the Normandy landings. The multimedia content and the programmes together followed this timeline of events. It was an interactive factual transmedia narrative made up of hybrid media forms. Channel 4 tweeted pictures, the content of letters and diary entries at the time they happened. According to Channel 4: ‘history unfolds in real time on the web. There’s something about experiencing an event in real time that makes you feel it, and connect with it, in a new way’ (Channel 4, 2013a). There were two Channel 4 programmes linked to the event but they were just one element of an interactive project which was designed as a multiscreen, multimedia experience. Key footage was released online as the timeline progressed and viewers could choose which character they chose to follow at any given moment. The website also became a focus for people to share their own stories, memories and recollections of D-Day. Similar to the Reburial of Richard III, the project evolved to become a people’s history of the landings. Again Channel 4 wanted this to have the nervous excitement of a live news event: ‘we’re


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trying to make the first TV series that delivers the past in the way that many of us experience news in the present day’ (Channel 4, 2013a). The BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch programmes are broadcast live too and that is also central to the success of the series. In Springwatch an important motivation for viewers is based on witnessing the drama of nature unfolding. With the programme’s array of hidden cameras this might mean having a rare opportunity to witness a chick emerging from a nest, or a badger crawling out of hibernation, live on TV. The BBC team then took this principle one stage further when it decided to broadcast live from California at the end of August 2015 with a special wildlife show called Big Blue Live (BBC, 2015). In normal circumstances, Monterey Bay is the type of exotic location that a team of BBC craft camera operators would spend months in whilst attempting to get the perfect underwater shot of a blue whale mating or a family of dolphins at play. This is the ‘David Attenborough’ formula for natural history programmes and certainly the quality of the visual sequences in a pre-recorded natural history documentary would outshine any footage that the BBC team could get live. Instead, however, BBC producers wanted to cover a natural history live event on a grand scale and focus on promoting audience engagement. Tim Scoones was the executive producer for Big Blue Live: Natural History isn’t by its nature live because sometimes it takes four years to do it. But factual live can be very helpful in drawing people’s attention to something and start creating an event. Particularly if it represents an event that is actually happening in nature in a timeline that people can understand and can witness. They can come with it. They can join in with it. Big Blue Live had a number of ‘calls to action’ during the show to inspire people to share ‘marine life photos’ and ‘ocean wildlife stories’ on the website and via the Twitter feed with the hashtag #BigBlueLive. There was the opportunity for two-way interaction with presenters too when they took time to retweet, share and comment on viewer posts. The programme used Twitter’s live streaming application Periscope to broadcast a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into the making of the programme. Second screen users could log into a presenter’s Periscope feed during a programme and this enabled them to ‘like’ and comment on the live action. A show needs to be live to generate this type of audience interaction and participation. As Tim Scoones says, Ultimately the relationship between the audience, the programme and the event, was partly exoticism fanzine, ‘I just want to be part of that. I want to talk to Matt Baker and find out what it’s like to tickle a sea otter under its chin’.

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However, broadcasters have limited opportunities to plan and create big live event programmes. They are costly, they have considerable logistical, technical, and health and safety challenges. Beyond this, of course, the outcome is never certain: the whole broadcast might end in an anti-climax. However, that is also the point. Big Blue Live was popular with viewers because nothing was guaranteed and not in spite of this uncertainty. The unpredictable nature of the show generated its own type of drama and frenzy. You can sense this from the presenters who continually emphasise it during the broadcast: ‘We can bring this to you in real time. We can bring this to you live!’ said a breathless Matt Baker during the final programme. ‘This place is an explosion of activity,’ he continued (Big Blue Live, BBC, 30 August 2015). During the week-long event in August 2015, Big Blue Live had filmed humpback whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions, great white sharks and elephant seals in their natural habitat. However, the show was desperate to find and film a blue whale live on the programme and yet for six days it didn’t happen. The production team put helicopters in the air scouring the oceans and the presenters kept the uncertainty mounting. The ‘will they, won’t they’ tension was a significant draw for audiences who, as with any good thriller, wanted to know the outcome. Tim Scoones says: It was an investigation so we made a kind of live incident room which then allowed people to join us on the investigation and find out with us as we found out ourselves. So there’s a sense of watching the news there or Crimewatch. There’s a sense of whodunnit. When the programme did finally spot a blue whale, Matt Baker had to interrupt an interviewee so they could take the images live. The resulting clip became one of the most watched elements of the online content. Within days it had had 20 million views. In total Big Blue Live accumulated 34 online clips as part of its online multimedia experience. ‘That’s new broadcasting,’ says Tim Scoones, ‘and the BBC is really realising this now’. Of course, the success of finding and filming a blue whale was not a matter of pure chance. The BBC production team had done its homework. Monterey Bay, for those few days at the end of August, was an arena for whale migration and the hub of an aquatic feeding frenzy on the west coast of America. The BBC had also formed crucial local partnerships to enhance authority and viewer experience. Like Springwatch, the US partnerships involved animal conservation agencies including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Hopkins Marine Station and the Seymour Marine Discovery Centre. Big Blue Live was also a collaboration between the BBC and PBS in America. This meant that two large media organisations could pool resources, share expertise and divide the costs to produce a multi-camera outside broadcast from the middle of a bay. The logistics of the Big Blue Live multiscreen experience would be difficult for one broadcast organisation to do alone.


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As a genre, British-made factual TV has not been immune from the impact of the emerging global powers of TV: the so-called ‘Over The Top’ (OTT) streaming services. The high-end, big-budget documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime are competing for ‘eye-ball’ time with UK factual content too. However, the emphasis on creating live broadcasting events has been one important way broadcasters have been able to immunise themselves from OTT competition. Broadcasters have achieved this by resurrecting the concept of ‘appointment to view’ in the digital age. Second screen activity can assist this process by building a community of viewers and establishing the sort of real-time social buzz that doesn’t happen with catch up and streaming services no matter how well they are produced. Broadcasters have used the second screen to actively involve viewers in several different ways. That might include helping to track the flight of cuckoo birds, telling stories around the burial of a dead king or finding Pulsars in the night sky. In this way factual programmes have been able to use the second screen to cast the viewer in the role of ‘investigator’ or ‘detective’. As we shall see in the following chapter, involving interactive users in this way has also become a popular device in TV dramas to encourage participation in scripted transmedia narratives.

Bibliography Ageh, T. (2011) The Value of Memory. Telling History: The Art of Television and Radio – Testimonies and Collective Memory A Prix Italia Conference. Available at: pdf/tonyageh_thevalueofmemory.pdf BBC (2004) Building public value: renewing the BBC for a digital world. BBC report. Available at: BBC (2015) BBC pledges to become ‘open platform’ for creativity. BBC News. Available at: BBC Apprentice (2009) About the Predictor. BBC Programme website. Available at: BBC Press Office (2006) BBC Reorganises for an on-demand Creative Future. 19 July. Bennett, J. (2008) Interfacing the nation: remediating public service broadcasting in the digital television age. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14(3): 277–294. Bennett, J. and Strange, N. (2008) The BBC’s second-shift aesthetics: interactive television, multi-platform projects and public service content for a digital era. Media International Australia 126: 106–119. Channel 4 (2013a) D-Day: As It Happens. About the Project. Available at: http:// Channel 4 (2013b) Test: Your Psychopathic Traits. Online tests derived by Professor Kevin Dutton. Available at: DCMS (2006) White Paper: A Public Service for All – The BBC in the Digital Age. London. HMSO.

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Doyle, G. (2010) From television to multi-platform: less from more or more from less? Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 16(4): 431–449. Fish Fight (2014) Online campaign website. Available at: html Glancy, M. & Graham, C. (2010) BBC Second Screens Study. BBC Research and Development presentation. Available at: Gray, A. and Bell, E. (2013) History on Television. Abingdon: Routledge. Hendy, D. (2013) Public Service Broadcasting. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Jones, T. (2011) Designing for Second Screens: The Autumnwatch Companion. BBC R&D Blog post. Available at: Kramskoy, J. (2011) Orchestrated Media – Beyond Second and Third Screen. BBC Research and Development Blog, Monday 7 February. Available at: Morley, D. (1986) Family Television: Cultural Power and Domestic Leisure. Abingdon: Routledge Comedia. Parks, L. (2004) Flexible microcasting: gender, generation, and television-internet convergence. In Spigel, L. and Olsson, J. (eds), Television After TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition, pp. 133–156. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Pulsar Hunters (2016) You have discovered a pulsar! Project link from BBC Stargazing Live. Available at: Spenger, V., Robertson, D. & Glancy, M. (2011) The TV Companion Experiment: A Second Screen case study. BBC Research and Development. Thursday 3 March. Available at: 0002/content_entry50d4625cb58a7e0e550000d9/51efe38f6e525e35f8002dea/ files/Autumn_Watch_Learning_Lunch_slides.pdf Strange, N. (2011) Multi platforming public service: the BBC’s ‘Bundled Project’. In Bennett, J. & Strange, N. (eds), Television as Digital Media. Durham and London: Duke University Press.


TV drama Second screen as multi-platform transmedia storytelling

In September 2015, Adam proposed to Katie in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street (ITV, 1960–). It’s true, marriage proposals are common fodder in TV soap operas. However, this is one with a significant difference: Adam and Katie are not characters in the show, they are fans of the programme who were taking part in what ITV called a ‘unique interactive experience’ (ITV, 2015). To mark the 60th anniversary of the soap, ITV decided to broadcast a live episode of the drama. During the advert breaks, the presenter Stephen Mulhern talked to fans on their second screens about the live event. ‘For the first time in 55 years’, he told viewers, ‘we are giving you a chance to interact within a live episode’ (ITV, 2015). There were two ways that viewers could interact: there was a poll on Twitter for viewers to select a song to be played on the jukebox in the Rovers Return Inn. Aside from this, fans could tweet with messages they wanted to appear on a blackboard in the pub towards the end of the live show. Adam’s proposal to Katie was chosen as the winning message. The live production was a significant challenge for the ITV team. There were over 550 people on the crew, 32 cameras and more than 30 microphones. This logistical challenge poses the question: why broadcast a live episode at all? The answer is to create ‘event TV’ and thereby develop a sense of excitement and immediacy around the show. It serves to incentivise viewers and actors alike to ‘get involved’ and participate around the live programme. Coronation Street actors themselves were posting tweets in the build up to the day and this gives second screen users a feeling of inclusivity and involvement. Crisell (2012) develops the concept of a ‘zone of liveness’. Normally soap operas are pre-recorded programmes but, he argues, they ‘stand in a different relation to the world from most other sorts of drama’ (p.30). Soap operas try to reflect contemporaneous life, even to the extent of referring to real world events in the drama. In this sense, according to Crisell, soap opera ‘brings to the genre the ideology, if not the actuality, of liveness’ (2012, p.30). Around Coronation Street Live, ITV had created a dedicated second screen experience to play out alongside the drama called ‘Access-All-Areas’. The producers had positioned 11 hidden cameras behind-the-scenes which

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streamed live images via the ITV website or the Coronation Street page on Facebook. Viewers could watch the main drama play out on the TV and see the action behind the cameras on their second screen. In fact if second screen users wanted to contribute to the online social buzz around the event (and there was a lot of people who did) they had to have three screens on the night: a TV for the drama, a tablet for the hidden camera stream and another screen for Twitter or Facebook messages. ITV broadcast a selection of social messages on the second screen and the presenter read them out during advert breaks. As a result of broadcast delay, the second screen streaming didn’t quite align with the action on the television and the website warned there would be ‘slight delays due to device and signal strength’ (ITV, 2015). However, the overall consensus was that the event was a success: the social feedback was positive, the actors remembered their lines and Katie said ‘yes’ to the proposal.

Second screen viewer as detective and sleuth 2015 was a year for television anniversaries. In February that year, Eastenders (BBC, 1985–) broadcast its own live episode to commemorate 30 years of the soap opera. For this special event, the BBC scheduled the live programme at the climax of a murder mystery storyline. As we have seen in factual television, it is a common tactic by producers to cast the audience in the role of detective to develop a sense of participation in the drama. For ten months, it seemed, viewers of Eastenders had been asking one question: who killed Lucy Beale? Everyone loves a good ‘whodunnit’ and, unlike in the days of Dirty Den, second screen social engagement meant that viewers could share their theories and argue with other fans on social media. More than ten million people tuned in to BBC 1 on Thursday 19 February to watch the murderer revealed and more than one million tweets were posted during the episode. All week traditional media outlets had been jumping on the bandwagon too. In between publishing articles, newspapers invited viewers to share their theories and vote for who they thought killed Lucy Beale. The betting companies got in on the act too. One newspaper described this as the ‘biggest betting event in soap history’ (Jefferies, 2015). Sure enough the bookmaker Coral processed £1.5 million of bets over the identity of Lucy Beale’s murderer. The social excitement wasn’t just on Twitter. The BBC created an online case file of the murder complete with suspect profiles and conflicting evidence. It served as a second screen database for the active user to compile murderer theories and increase engagement with the programme. All this is good publicity for the show, of course, but these interactive elements also added to the wider narrative around Eastenders itself. Both enhanced TV content and social backchannel discussion on the second screen contribute to the notion of a paratext of a TV drama in the same way that ‘marketing material, sequels, merchandising and branding can all help shape the viewer’s experience of a single “text”’(Evans, 2011, p.19). Rolinson (2015) argues that both Eastenders and Coronation Street


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Live ‘addressed liveness both textually and paratextually, as in their crossplatform interest in interactivity’. It is significant that both soap operas involved death in the plot lines for their live programmes, although in Coronation Street the identity of the killer was never in question. Instead, during the interactive second screen experience, Corrie viewers were encouraged to empathise with the killer and tweet suggestions for where she might hide the body. Such social discourse reinforces viewer involvement and participation in the evolving paratext of a show. Sherlock (BBC, 2010–) is one of the BBC’s biggest drama hits of recent years in which Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. Contemporary London replaces the old Victorian world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original text. Sherlock is seen casually solving the mysteries presented on TV and instead of a journal, Dr John Watson is often portrayed writing an online blog of Sherlock’s cases. As Nicol (2013) states ‘the series manages to sustain the parallel between Holmes’s technique and character and the high-tech digital world of the twenty-first century’ (p.132). The series uses the multiscreen digital world to add greater depth to the story. Dr Watson’s blog presented producers with a perfect opportunity to create a transmedia narrative to accompany the TV series. Dr Watson’s fictional blog was created online and regular blog posts were published related to the adventures on the screen. Other characters from the drama, like Mary Morstan and Sherlock himself, even posted comments on the blog to give the appearance of a genuine site. Fans could also read Sherlock’s The science of deduction website and try their hand at solving cases. The site comes complete with case files, secret codes and hidden messages. Like the Eastenders Online Case File, both of these websites let the viewer participate in the show by letting them play the part of detective and investigate for themselves. Beyond encouraging interaction and greater immersion in the ‘Sherlock world’, the multiscreen elements developed additional layers to the dominant narrative. The Sherlock experience came off the back of another multiscreen interactive detective story a few years before. In 2007, at the end of the first episode in series six of the BBC drama Spooks (BBC, 2002–2011), there was a call to action for viewers: a voice directed fans to a website entitled Spooks Interactive. This was at the height of the BBC’s forays into interactive television. In turning from TV screen to computer terminal, viewers transformed into gamers and were invited to become an MI5 spy. When they logged on, players found they had been given a desk in MI5 HQ at Thames House and were given a mission to track down a suspected terrorist called Mehan Asnik. It was an immersive ten-week narrative journey which involved puzzles and clues. The interactive game integrated plots and characters from the TV show: there are videos and voice messages from Harry Pearce, the head of Section D in MI5, as well as recordings and messages from other characters. Katie Swinden, Spooks producer, said ‘This site provides us with a platform that enables us to tell drama in a different

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way, developing storylines beyond the confines of the individual episodes and enhancing the enjoyment of Spooks’ (cited in New Media Age, 2007). Sarah Clay was the BBC commissioning editor for the digital content: ‘Spooks Interactive was one of the first big ARG (Alternate Reality Games),’ she says. ‘It was the first time we had filmed the cast and created a narrative as part of the game. We’ve since done a lot of this type of extending the narrative’ (author interview, July 2015). At the time Mark Lawson, writing in the Guardian, said ‘this is the future of television: one screen opening into another, an opening episode followed not merely by a second but by a series of codas’ (Lawson, 2007). This was a new type of inclusive storytelling that borrowed non-linear narrative techniques from the gaming industry. This was a concept examined by Stacey Hand (2007, p.57): ‘Interactive drama, as a concept, has long promised many exciting possibilities for enhancing audience enjoyment by bringing together the interactive pleasures of gaming and the enjoyment of storytelling.’ The detective games around Sherlock and Spooks were not synchronised companion projects: it wasn’t intended that viewers should be engaging with the content whilst the programmes were on air. Instead they were a way of using digital platforms to evolve the narrative into non-linear forms and keeping up the momentum of the drama, and the viewer excitement around it, during the intervals between episodes.

Social TV Soap operas like Eastenders and Coronation Street regularly come in the top five most viewed programmes in the UK according to BARB data. However, this doesn’t mean that they are also the most talked about TV shows on social media. Social TV engagement doesn’t always follow the ebb and flow of official viewing figures, instead it seems to operate by different rules and patterns. Social contributors are likely to be superfans of a programme: viewers who not only watch every episode, but also feel passionate enough to write about it, post comments and articles, share content and encourage other people to join in. In general this social engagement happens organically but the flames of this backchannel discussion can be stoked and fanned on the second screen by broadcasters or independent companies seeking to capitalise on social activity. Beamly is a dedicated online social TV platform which created a special virtual Eastenders room for the occasion of the live show. It was a place where Eastenders’ fans could congregate, gossip and share content. The room could be accessed through an online webpage or via a dedicated mobile app. During the ‘Who Killed Lucy?’ special more than 1.1 million unique users visited the room according to Beamly. The company claims it had the biggest share of social media action over the soap event. This included an interactive voting poll which attracted 13 votes per second during the 48 hours around the transmission window and finally reached more than two million votes. According to Juliette Otterburn Hall, Beamly’s


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Chief Content officer, ‘Beamly’s platform extends the chatter around the TV to 24/7 with a raft of interactivity around core shows, compelling content and active conversation throughout the week’ (Beamly, 2015). As we have seen, online social engagement often works best if there is a live event around which people can congregate. Sometimes these are real newsworthy events like the leaders’ debates in the General Election or the Reburial of King Richard III. For Eastenders and Coronation Street the ‘anniversary’ year gave both programmes an opportunity for renewal and a chance to break the routine of viewing. The idea of a ‘live’ performance still has the power to attract crowds and stimulate discussion. However, sometimes the online social buzz can focus on the mistakes in a programme more than the successes. For example, when Eastenders actress Jo Joyner said the name of a fellow actor (instead of his character) on-screen during the live programme, the hashtag #howsadam was trending alongside #eelive. It may be a little embarrassing for those involved but it only helps to attract more viewers to the live show. It also means that the BBC could encourage rumours of alternative endings so that not even the actors themselves could be sure of the identity of Lucy’s real killer. The TV show which boasts one of the most active and passionate tribes of followers on Twitter is The Only Way Is Essex (ITV, 2010–). Known as TOWIE to its loyal fans, this is a ‘scripted’ reality show based in Brentwood where real people interact with each other within structured settings. It blurs the boundaries between an observational reality show and a soap opera. According to the social TV ratings agency Kantar, on average 3 per cent of the live TOWIE audience are tweeting about the show during the broadcast. The programme is filmed each week very close to transmission. As a result producers can respond to tweets quickly and second screen users can have a direct impact on the outcomes of future shows. The fast turnaround in the production, coupled with the willingness of producers, has enabled the feedback loop to be closed. For example, according to the producer of the show, Andrew Barron, ‘We recently held a Twitter vote for which male member of the cast people most wanted to see in their pants by the end of the show’ (cited in Lang, 2014). The producer was then able to satisfy viewer demands in the following episodes. Bad Education (BBC, 2012–) is one of the big scripted comedy hits on the digital online channel BBC Three. It follows the varying fortunes of immature and naive schoolteacher Alfie Wickers (played by Jack Whitehall). It’s aimed at a young audience who have already embraced social media sites in their everyday lives. These are the viewers who score top in Ofcom’s digital confidence index. Bad Education tapped into this social connectivity when the programme was conceived. The show was commissioned by Chris Sussman at the BBC: Bad Education was a show that broke records when we launched. The show instantly took off on Twitter. We set up a dedicated Twitter

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account for Alfie Wickers and the morning after the first episode he already had 50,000 followers which was a record for the BBC social media accounts. (Author interview, June 2015) It’s not hard to see why: the character’s Twitter feed is full of in jokes, offscreen gossip, photos and links. The producers used second screen social engagement to construct a ‘zone of liveness’ (Crisell, 2012) where viewers can interact with the TV characters and each other. It’s a hub around which fans of the show can gather, meet each other and share similar experiences. This Twitter conversation hits a crescendo during the programme itself: which is a sure sign that the viewers are second screening whilst they are watching TV. For TV producers this live online debate can be used as instant audience feedback which may reveal whether or not a show is going to be a success. Be assured: when a programme airs the producers, scriptwriters and actors log into Twitter anxiously. ‘That’s something that everyone in TV does right across all genres,’ says Chris Sussman. ‘When your programmes go out you sit there on Twitter and you look and see how it’s doing’. The comments aren’t always positive, of course, but is the Twitter reaction a true reflective of wider audience feeling? In this respect is it trustworthy? For programme makers, the Twitter response is a useful gauge of audience reaction, but shouldn’t be taken too seriously. According to Chris Sussman: People tend to be quite extreme in their views, people aren’t very thoughtful. So you get either ‘I love this, it’s the greatest thing that’s ever been made’ or ‘I hate this it’s the worst thing ever’. The second thing is that people make their minds up very quickly. This aspect of social TV is significant and potentially damaging to scripted and long-form comedies and dramas. As Sussman suggests, viewers on Twitter tend to judge a programme quickly and their views can gather momentum with others online. What happens if a TV drama requires time for viewers to get to know the characters and get immersed in the narrative? Only Fools and Horses (BBC, 1981–2003) is a good example of this. The first series wasn’t well received and didn’t get high viewing figures. Instead it took time to gather its loyal following. If there had been social media back in the 1980s, we might speculate, perhaps a negative online reaction might have dealt a death blow to the show which eventually became one of the most beloved comedies in the UK. There were several negative comments on Twitter over the Eastenders ‘Who Killed Lucy?’ plot line. When the murderer was finally revealed to be her 11-year-old brother Bobby Beale, some people expressed disappointment and a sense of anti-climax. ‘What a rubbish choice of killer for the anniversary,’ remarked one Twitter user. Another commented: ‘I’m still


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laughing at the fact Bobby killed her with a little material covered jewellery box, he must be on steroids to kill her with that’ (cited in Jeffries, 2015). Positive feedback or negative gossip, there is a real appetite among viewers to bond with each other over TV shows. Online social engagement may be part of the paratext of a drama but it’s also an unstable element that exists outside the control of the broadcasters.

Streaming drama On a global scale, scripted television drama is currently enjoying a golden age. Increasing levels of mobile, multi-platform viewing has fragmented the television industry, it’s true, yet drama has been able to ride out the changes. As digital television rolled out during the first decade of the new millennium, dwindling advertising revenues were spread thinly across a burgeoning number of digital channels. Added to this there was concern in the industry that young viewers, in particular, had short attention spans in terms of media consumption and were moving towards short-form accessible TV on mobile platforms. However, as Jason Mittell (2006) illustrates, drama has bucked this trend and has embraced long-form dramas with narrative complexity. The Hollywood actor Jeff Daniels, star of The Newsroom (HBO, 2012–2014), has said ‘Television in the last few years has been where all the great writers are going. TV now is what indie film used to be’ (cited in Braxton, 2012). It is tempting to say that the drive for this has come largely from American TV networks. After all, the US has the infrastructure, the budgets and the studios, to support this type of content creation. However, it’s also worth remembering that many of the recent long-form American hit dramas were remakes from British TV programmes: House of Cards (BBC, 1990) and The Office (BBC, 2001) being two cases in point. There is no renewed appreciation of complex TV drama, the viewer appetite never went away. However, Over The Top streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have transformed the TV landscape in recent years. In 2013, Netflix decided to launch its remake of House of Cards (Netflix, 2013–) by making available all 13 episodes of the first season at once. As a result the phrase ‘binge viewing’ has now entered the official language of audience activity. These new patterns of online viewing are forcing people to reassess the notion of television from first principles according to Kevin Spacey, the executive producer and principal star of the drama. He gave the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in 2013 and announced a new era for the industry: ‘Kids aren’t growing up with a sense of television as the aspirational place for their ideas; all they know is the incredible diversity of entertainment, stories and engagement that they can find online’ (Spacey, 2013). What does this mean for British TV shows and drama productions? Here we need to make a distinction between the broadcasting industry and the production sector. The new TV landscape is in a state of uncertainty and flux. OTT providers like Netflix

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and Amazon are formidable new rivals to established broadcasters in the UK. The broadcasters are also struggling to compete with the large budgets that the streaming firms can command. Within the genre of scripted drama, there is evidence that a once buyers’ market is now turning around in favour of the seller. For example, the production company Left Bank Pictures has been working with Peter Morgan – the British writer of the film The Queen – to develop a new TV drama series about the emotional intricacies of the British Royal Family. The BBC and ITV were understood to be bidding for The Crown which eventually went to Netflix who were set to pay a reported £5 million per episode. Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content at Netflix, said the production represents ‘storytelling that lives somewhere between TV and cinema’ (cited in Kamen, 2014). For UK production companies the outlook is different. Certainly there are challenges in this new TV world, but it is also a land of opportunity. UK companies who do deals with the likes of Amazon and Netflix can find new global audiences for both old and new productions. It’s already happened for comedies like Channel 4’s Peep Show (Channel 4, 2003–2015) and BBC Scotland’s Still Game (BBC, 2002–). For producers there are now alternative markets beyond the traditional cabal of the UK terrestrial broadcasters. For example, when the BBC dropped Ripper Street after the second series the British production company Tiger Aspect took their creation to Amazon who commissioned the third series. It gave the creative process new freedoms away from the confines of the traditional television schedule. ‘With no restrictions on either content or the length of each episode, we have been able to reassemble our magnificent cast …’ said Richard Warlow, writer for Ripper Street (cited in Molloy, 2014). TV dramas which may have been considered too complicated, too deep or too niche to get commissioned in the past may find enough of an audience on the international online stage to make them viable. However, these are expensive projects and so global co-productions are likely to become the norm in the future of TV funding and commissioning.

‘Enhanced’ drama The opportunities for second screen interaction within this ecosystem of global TV streaming are limited. As we’ve seen, social engagement via the second screen works best when the viewing is live and people can discuss and share at the same time. By definition, TV streaming and VOD happens at the whim and behest of the viewer. In fact, in many ways the second screen itself is being used as a platform to breathe new life into the concept of ‘appointment to view’ and, thereby, fight back against the threats of streaming and VOD content. However, this does not mean that complex, big budget, large scale scripted dramas are immune to the attractions and opportunities of the second screen, both in terms of developing social engagement and creating companion play-along experiences. In 2012, the


Second screen as multi-platform storytelling

American network AMC launched the StorySync app for the US Season 2 of its zombie hit show The Walking Dead (AMC, 2010–). This was a custombuilt tailored app, designed to let users play along with each episode of the drama in real time. It was part-quiz, part-communal game and also hosted a fan forum. Viewers were able to predict whether the main protagonist, Rick Grimes, or another character was going to kill the most zombies (or walkers) in each episode. Users could study character biographies, delve into back stories, investigate their favourite weapons and visit favourite moments from old shows. There was even a ‘gore gauge’ for fans who revel in blood and guts. The app built a sense of community too: it took audience polls and asked audience members ‘What would happen if …’ multiple choice questions with the results relayed to anyone involved in the game. It’s not a solitary experience as second screen elements make a user feel like they belong to a group of fans all enjoying the play-along game. ‘The usage has steadily grown – and sometimes more than steadily grown – each time we’ve done it’ said Mac McKean, AMC Senior Vice President of Digital Media when he was interviewed in 2014 (cited in Bishop, 2014). It was also a polished marketing tool for the programme and fed the demands and appetites of super fans talking about the show. It offered sneak peeks into future episodes and created a buzz about the next season’s offerings. However, the StorySync app did not enable second screen viewers to participate with the central narrative itself. There was no interaction with programme makers and scriptwriters which could alter the fate of Rick Grimes and his family. Yet despite this, there was a form of two-way engagement going on here with other fans of the programme. If we understand The Walking Dead to be a transmedia story with different layers of narrative and paratext on different platforms, then users were able to interact with some of these layers and thereby alter the wider understanding of the story. As users answered polls and quizzes, the resulting information was shared between everyone else and this would have had an impact on how viewers interpreted the show. For example, one of the questions on The Walking Dead app asked viewers their opinion of the mental health of one central character – Michonne. The displayed responces to this question may have altered viewers’ perceptions of that character. As a result, there is interaction here: not with the on-screen narrative itself but in the way the drama is interpreted and understood by audiences. It harks back to David Morely’s concept of audiences decoding media messages. Significantly, the app wasn’t demanding viewer attention all the time. Finding the right balance in the number and timing of interactive opportunities on the second screen has been a central challenge for digital agencies. With The Walking Dead app, the interactive elements appeared to drift away when there was a climactic moment during the main programme. In this way it attempted to avoid the thorny problem of second screen engagement becoming a distraction to the main drama content. The initial popularity of the companion experience led AMC to create other StorySync

Second screen as multi-platform storytelling


apps for other dramas including The Killing (AMC, 2011–2014) and Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008–2013). Breaking Bad is a dark tale which follows the fortunes of Walter White, a troubled high school chemistry teacher, who starts to create and sell the drug crystal meth when he discovers he has cancer. His journey takes him deep into the criminal underworld. The companion app content was similar to The Walking Dead: there were photos, videos, quizzes and polls. Beyond this the app enabled producers and audience members to see how audiences responded in real time to character development and plot twists. It asked users whether murders were ‘necessary’ and tracks to what extent people think of Walter White as a monster. As the drama develops it’s clear that fewer and fewer viewers are sympathetic to White as the main protangonist evolves into the anti-hero. The US medical drama Grey’s Anatomy was one of the first shows to experiment with constructing a second screen experience around a scripted drama production. At the end of January 2011, at the start of the seventh season, ABC released a companion app which contained all the ‘added value’ content that you might expect from an official website dedicated to the show: trivia, behind-the-scenes information, polls, character biographies, production details and video and photo galleries. The app was supported by Nielsen’s Media-sync platform which contained audio watermarking technology that enabled it to ‘listen’ to the TV programme and unlock content at key moments of the show. As a result the app could be used whilst watching the drama on catch up. Viewers could explore environments within the show guided by some key characters. It also let viewers ‘check-in’ to the show and share that information with friends. In an interview to CNN, Sid Gorham, the vice president of Strategy at Nielsen said ‘We know that our viewers are already engaging in second-screen behaviour when they’re viewing their favourite shows. We said, “how do we use the second screen experience to make the first screen more compelling?”’ (cited in Gross, 2011). The second screen embraces TV superfans. It provides them with additional creative content to consume and a platform to socialise and demonstrate their commitment to a TV show. One of the BBC’s most successful global exports, in terms of fostering a dedicated fan following, has been Doctor Who (1963–). This is a programme brand which is surrounded by a number of different paratextual layers including promotional material, press reports, the social commentary around the programme and the TV merchandising. As Jason Hills (2015) states, ‘merchandising has become increasingly significant to Who’s brandorientated universe, as well as to BBC Worldwide’s revenue generation’ (p.58). Taken together these transmedia strands create a world beyond the original text itself. It is a world where characters of the show can live even beyond the life span of the programme itself. This is what happened with Doctor Who when the programme was taken off air in 1996. As Williams argues, ‘Some fan objects are immortal and able to continue an almost


Second screen as multi-platform storytelling

eternal life through either transmedia resurrections or via continued discussion and endorsement by the surrounding fan communities’ (2015, p.204). The second screen is a place where these paratextual narratives come together for the benefit of the fans and the programme makers. In August 2014, BBC Worldwide contracted the digital media company Monterosa to create a second screen interactive game for fans of Doctor Who in America. The digital team created a multiple choice trivia game app called Who Knows Who. The quiz was activated during advert breaks when TV viewers silently transformed into players. They had to answer a series of ten questions about the episode currently on air. Around 100,000 people played the game during the launch of Doctor Who Season 8 in America and the average game session length was 32 minutes. These were impressive statistics for a new online game. For superfans this was an opportunity to get involved in their show on a different level and show off about their knowledge. Tom McDonnell is the CEO of Monterosa: It got big numbers. Something like 10% of the audience played at its peak. This is appealing to avid fans. That’s just saying ‘hey massive Doctor Who fans, go online now and prove how much of a fan you are’. If you can tap a motivation like that you get people doing it. It’s not strictly synced – it’s an ad break game. You see the sponsors driving it and again it’s really popular. (Author interview, June 2015) Unlike in Britain, where the BBC isn’t allowed advertising around its programmes, this was a rare opportunity for the corporation to benefit from the commercial opportunities of the second screen. The app was sponsored by AT&T who also provided branded ‘lifelines’ within the game. To demonstrate the importance of Doctor Who to the BBC, both commercially and in terms of global reach, the programme is mentioned 17 times in the BBC Worldwide annual report. It says Doctor Who achieved ‘record ratings in BBC America’ with viewers ‘up 19.7% versus prior series’ and it describes the show as one of the BBC’s ‘core brands’ (BBC Worldwide, 2015). As we have seen, many of the enhanced multiscreen drama experiences were not intended to be used in real time alongside the primary TV broadcast. For example, the BBC Worldwide Doctor Who game Who Knows Who, was intended to be played during commercial breaks in America, not during the show itself. The game was supposed to prevent viewers from getting distracted by the adverts and keep them occupied until the show recommenced. These second screen experiences, whether online games, social TV or enhanced content, serve to keep viewers engaged with and connected to the brand of a show between episodes and between seasons. If there is no opportunity to ‘bingewatch’, then the second screen can give fans ‘a fix’ of their show by letting them interact with transmedia narratives.

Second screen as multi-platform storytelling


Transmedia narratives The second screen has been used as a platform for transmedia storytelling to great effect. Mobile devices, like tablets and iPads, can be both intimate and social. As connected tools they are inherently interactive and can support multimedia content in all its assorted forms. Anne Zeiser defines transmedia storytelling as ‘an interactive story and world experienced on multiple platforms simultaneously’ (2015, p.9; my emphasis). However, the concept of transmedia predates the digital world. As Tom Dowd et al. (2013) state, a transmedia story is an ‘entertainment experience that builds from multiple encounters with the narrative’ (p.4). In this case, each medium adds new elements from which meaning is constructed. It’s not just TV producers and broadcasters who are embracing mobile platforms to enhance narrative fiction, it’s happening across other media too. Let’s start with radio as an example. BBC Radio 4’s long-running farming soap opera, The Archers, has some very loyal fans. The drama is centred around the invented town of Ambridge in the fictional West Midlands county of Borsetshire. In March 2015, the relatively new editor of The Archers introduced a controversial new storyline: he flooded Ambridge. As we’ve seen, soap operas often link to real events to inject a sense of ‘liveness’ into a show. 2014 was a year in which the West Country in England had been hit by floods which had a devastating impact on local communities. To accompany the main narrative on the radio, producers also created a website full of elaborate enhanced content: maps gave minuteby-minute flood updates during The Archers programme. A real BBC Midlands weather presenter created a fake TV weather report and described the River Am bursting its banks. The BBC even published fictional tweets and weather alerts from the Environment Agency as the fields and farmland became inundated with water (just as the Somerset Levels flooded in 2014). This was effectively an enhanced second screen experience designed to explain, support and extend the primary narrative on the radio. In a statement at the time the BBC said ‘This is the first time we have done live blogging and it has been amazing to see audience engage with us and experience this week’s events as if they too were residents of Ambridge’ (cited in Gillman, 2015; my italics). These online transmedia narratives were designed to make the story come alive in order to immerse listeners. There was also a practical and pragmatic reason for the multi-platform content. It helped the audience keep track of everything that was happening as the radio show jumped between times and locations. Even so, some listeners were still confused and felt patronised and offended by the additional material. One fan commented: ‘I cannot stand this cross over between fiction and reality, the fiction should be strong enough to stand in its own right and not need these add-on insults to intelligence’ (cited in Gillman, 2015). In her book Hamlet on the Holodeck (1997), Janet Murray argues that storytelling will inevitably ‘move away from the formats of older media and


Second screen as multi-platform storytelling

toward new conventions in order to satisfy the desires aroused by the digital environment’ (p.68). Nearly two decades on and that movement is still happening but in two directions: alternating backwards and forwards between old and new media forms. Aside from radio and TV, there have been transmedia experiments and innovations in the arena of novel writing too. Iain Pears is an acclaimed novelist who is known for writing stories with complex structures. His book An Instance of the Fingerpost (1997) told the same story from four different perspectives. In his novel Arcadia (2015), Pears attempts to weave together ten different narrative strands. This, he felt, was testing the patience of his readers too much. Pears states: I had reached the limit of my storytelling in book form and needed some new tools to get me to the next stage … I began to think about how to make my readers’ lives as easy as possible by bypassing the limitations of the classic linear structure. (Pears, 2015) In the end Pears, with a team of digital developers, created a special companion app to go with the novel. In doing this he is encouraging people to read Arcadia in a non-linear fashion. When the app is downloaded and played, readers are confronted by a map of woven narratives which looks like an underground tube map in a foreign city. There are different coloured lines, stations and junctions. Readers can stay on one track to the end or decide to change their route at a junction. In this way, readers can choose which characters and which storylines to follow. Effectively people can structure the book in any way they wish. As Pears describes it: ‘each narrative is complete but is enhanced when mingled with all the others’ (Pears, 2015; my emphasis).

Two-way participation So far, in all the ways and means that the second screen has encouraged interaction with scripted TV dramas, not one has involved genuine two-way participation with the main narrative of a show itself. Viewers were promised interaction within Coronation Street Live in 2015, but in the end this amounted to having input into the set dressing (music or blackboard messages) and not in the outcome of the plot. Other TV dramas have attempted to involve their audiences in a similar way. However, in these instances the promise of user participation is, at best, limited and, at worst, illusory. Which one depends on the intentions of the producers and the expectations of the audience. As Evans argues, ‘Whether or not interactive narratives practically exist or are still chimeras depends on what is expected of the user’s participation’ (Ryan, 2015, p.235). However, there have been a number of pilots and experiments to produce a drama which embed two-way audience interaction within the framework

Second screen as multi-platform storytelling


of the show. This list would include the Finnish musical comedy Accidental Lovers (2006) in which viewers altered the relationship between the main characters by sending text messages to the show. The online 3D experience Gormenghast Explore (BBC, 2007) would be on this list too. Based on Mervyn Peake’s classic gothic novel, this interactive project took footage from the BBC’s Gormenghast mini-series in 2000 and created a world in which users could explore a non-linear narrative around the novel’s imaginary world and castle in 3D. This was a form of transmedia storytelling which tied TV footage with 3D gameplay and focused on the agency of user: they were in control of the journey, they could choose which characters and storylines they wanted to explore. It wasn’t a second screen project, but it did show the potential for linking video content with other multimedia and interactive narrative layers. Gormenghast Explore was examined by researchers in 2008 who concluded the experience ‘was thought to open up a new form of fun, flexible future TV, which fits the needs of people nowadays, who grow up with interactive environments such as game playing and internet surfing’ (Ursu et al., 2008, p.20). The study also outlined the key issue which all interactive projects have faced: the problem of maintaining ‘the high quality associated with traditional linear narratives’ and providing ‘for appropriate viewer agency’ (Ursu et al., 2008, p.11). 2008 was a year of interactive experimentation and hopeful expectation. Laptops and networked technology were finally of a standard where they could support and enable the interactive visions of storytellers. In 2008 the BBC published a commissioning document which set out a brave new interactive ambition: ‘We are looking to find major multi platform drama which allow the user to explore the world of a drama by allowing the audience to engage and become involved with the characters and their world’ (BBC Drama, 2008). This was moving beyond ‘enhanced TV’ as the BBC wanted to ‘commission new content that exploits the particular characteristics of different technologies and platforms, such as the participative nature of the internet’ (BBC Drama, 2008). At this stage the possibilities for TV interaction seemed bountiful: online networked computer games were rising fast in popularity and could be played on the TV itself. These online games were also evolving intricate narrative structures of their own and the lines between gaming and interactive TV dramas seemed to be blurring.

Transportation Could participating in a TV drama become a similar experience to playing a computer game? The problem here is that, perhaps of all the TV genres, TV drama is thought to engender the most ‘passive’ viewing experience. As Evans (2011) states: ‘the perceived difference between playing a game and watching a television programme is intricately bound up with perceptions of the active/passive binary’ (p.94). The notion of viewer transportation


Second screen as multi-platform storytelling

describes the extent to which audience members become involved or absorbed in a narrative. According to Green (2004), a highly transported person is ‘cognitively and emotionally involved in the story’ (p.247). Transportation touches both the head and the heart and can apply to narratives across different media: from novels, to radio soap operas, TV dramas, documentaries and films. In TV drama, where the intention is to create an immersive experience, viewer transportation is a central aim. Authentic characters and the creation of a believable world are the two central elements which drive this viewer transportation. Green and Brock (2000) argue that ‘attachment to characters may play a critical role in narrative-based belief change’ (p.702). From the perspective of the second screen, it is possible that active two-way participation in TV drama could bolster viewer transportation: after all a viewer who has contributed to the outcome of a narrative will have a vested interest in seeing the story play out to the end. However, active involvement in the construction of a narrative is not the same as emotional involvement and immersion in a drama. There is no avoiding the issue: second screen interaction can be a significant distraction for TV drama viewers. During a study in Finland, the researchers examined what level of second screen interaction would be too much for users. It concluded ‘If the program required a lot of attention, like dramatic shows, users experienced creating links and informational posts to a second screen as distracting’ (Ainasoja et al., 2014, p.197). This is an area of ongoing debate. Even before the widespread proliferation of tablets and other mobile devices, Hand and Varan (2007) looked into the outcomes of several interactive drama experiments and stated: ‘Some argue that the reason for the failure of previous interactive projects lies in interactivity’s innate incompatibility with story structure’ before arguing ‘to dismiss story as being incompatible with interactivity is premature and short sighted’ (p.58). However, the majority of industry figures interviewed for this book believe that drama and real time audience participation are fundamentally incompatible. Not only is it distracting, they say, but there is also no clear demand for it from large numbers of viewers. Long-form scripted TV drama is so popular precisely because audiences choose to embrace passive viewing: they can lean back, switch off and get immersed in the experience. The biggest hurdle for interactive TV drama remains conceptual. Does the very nature of drama itself preclude participation and interaction? Before she joined Fremantle Media, Kat Hebden produced the web-only drama Being Victor for MTV in 2010. The narrative was supported by tweets and blogs from the characters and viewers could then interact with them on the social media sites. It was intended to be a split-screen experience from the outset. ‘Second screen activity is really difficult to get right with drama’, says Hebden, ‘perhaps because people see it as a lean back experience. People want to be immersed in the drama. They don’t want to be continually distracted by something else’ (author interview, June 2015). Matt Millar, CEO of the digital agency Tellybug, agrees: ‘In a lot of drama most of the

Second screen as multi-platform storytelling


second screen experiences are led by the desire to be seen to be doing something modern,’ he says: But you are not adding any value to the show as a kind of linear video experience. If you really wanted to do something modern, don’t create a TV drama with a second screen experience. Instead create a standalone app with the narrative and the characters. (Author interview, September 2015) The Channel 4 scripted reality show Made in Chelsea (Channel 4, 2011–) has done just that with a mobile app. The characters in the show are recreated using 3D avatars and players use them to ‘air-kiss, flirt, gossip and fight your way round London’s prestigious SW6’ (Channel 4, 2016). It is not a second screen app in the strict sense because it doesn’t synchronise with the show itself. However, it does serve as a digital paratext to the show by adding layers of interactive narrative and building fan affinity with the characters and the brand. It also helps to keep superfans engaged with the programme in-between episodes. In an effort to avoid distracted viewers, some TV producers say they would rather not have any social media response at all to their TV dramas. Peter Moffat, the writer of The Village, told a BBC Fusion Summit ‘the perfect Twitter response’ to something he has written ‘is silence’ (Moffat, 2013). This is not because no one is watching or because he is afraid of negative comments online. Instead he wants people to be so immersed in his story and narrative that they can’t take their eyes from the first screen, let alone engage with a second.

Bibliography Ainasoja, M. et al. (2014) A Case Study on Understanding 2nd Screen Usage during a Live Broadcast. P197 UBICOMM 2014: The Eighth International Conference on Mobile Ubiquitous Computing, Systems, Services and Technologies. BBC Drama (2008) Drama on Multi Platform. BBC Commissioning document, March. BBC Worldwide (2015) Annual Review: World Class – Building the BBC and UK Creative Industries Around the World. Available at: media/109098/annualreview2014-15.pdf Beamly (2015) Beamly receives biggest share of social media action for EastEnders. Available at: Bishop, B. (2014) How a second-screen app made ‘The Walking Dead’ come alive. The Verge. Available at: how-a-second-screen-app-made-the-walking-dead-come-alive Braxton, G. (2012) Jeff Daniels to the long hours of ‘The Newsroom’. Los Angeles Times. Available at: la-ca-jeff-daniels-20120527


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Channel 4 (2016) Made in Chelsea The Game. Online description available at: Crisell, A. (2012) Liveness and Recording in the Media. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Dowd, T., Fry, M., Niederman, M. & Steiff, J. (2013) Storytelling Across Worlds. Burlington, MA: Focal Press. Evans, E. (2011) Transmedia Television: Audiences, New Media and Daily Life. New York and Abingdon: Routledge. Gillman, O. (2015) BBC faces deluge of complaints from listeners over bizarre internet coverage of fictional flood disaster in the Archers. Mail Online. Available at: Green, M. C. (2004). Transportation into narrative worlds: the role of prior knowledge and perceived realism. Discourse Processes 38: 247–266. doi:10.1207/ s15326950dp3802_5 Green, M. C. & Brock, T. C. (2000). The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 79: 701–721. Gross, D. (2011) ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ gets a real-time iPad app. CNN, 1 February. Available at: interactive/ Hand, S. & Varan, D. (2007) Exploring the effects of interactivity in television drama. Interactive TV: A Shared Experience. 5th European Conference EUroITV 2007. Hills, M. (2015) Doctor Who: The Unfolding Event. Marketing, Merchandising and Mediatizing a Brand Anniversary. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ITV (2015) Coronation Street Live: Access All Areas. 23 September. Available at: Jefferies, M. (2015) Bobby Beale KILLED Lucy: Twitter reacts as EastEnders murderer is finally unmasked. 19 February. Mirror. Available at: www.mirror. Kamen, M. (2014) Netflix turns Royalist with first UK original series ‘The Crown’. Wired. Available at: Lang, K. (2014) Why TV is best watched with Twitter. Radio Times. Available at: Lawson, M. (2007) TV Matters: Spooks Interactive. The Guardian. Available at: spooksinteractive Mittell, J. (2006) Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television. The Velvet Light Trap 58.1: 29–40. Project MUSE. Web. 14 February. Moffat, P. (2013) Future Fiction. Presentation to BBC Fusion Summit. Available at: Molloy, A. (2014) Ripper Street series 3: period drama to return on Amazon streaming service. Independent. Available at: Murray, J. H. (1997) Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press.

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New Media Age (2007) Spooks to return with interactive experience. Econsultancy. Available at: Nicol, B. (2013) Sherlock Holmes Version 2.0: adapting Doyle in the twenty-first century. In Vanacker, S. & Wynne, C. (eds), Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle Multi-media Afterlives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Pears, I. (2015) Why you need an app to understand my novel. The Guardian. Available at: Rolinson, D. (2015) Live soap: Eastenders and Coronation Street. British Television Drama. Available at: Ryan, M-L. (2015) Narrative as Virtual Reality 2: Revisiting Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Spacey, K. (2013) James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture. Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival 2013. Sussner, J. et al. (2006) 3D Navigable Interface for Interactive Movie Gormenghast Explore, AXMEDIS ’06 Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Automated Production of Cross Media Content for Multi-Channel Distribution Ursu, M., Thomas, M., Kegel, I., Williams, D., Tuomola, M., Lindstedt, I., Wright, T., Leurdijk, A., Zsombori, V., Sussner, J., Myrestam, U. & Hall, N. (2008) Interactive TV narratives: opportunities, progress, and challenges. ACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications 4(4): Article 25. Available at: narratives_Opportunities_progress_and_challenges?auto=download Williams, R. (2015) Post-Object Fandom: Television, Identity & Self-narrative. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Zeiser, A. (2015) Transmedia Marketing: From Film and TV to Games and Digital Media. Abingdon, UK and Burlington, MA: Focal Press 2015.


Sport and betting Monetising second screen gameplay

Second screen activity works best in those situations where TV viewers have been compelled, in the past, to shout at the TV screen. It happens in entertainment talent shows as people vocalise their appreciation of a singer, or in quiz shows as viewers call out the answers to questions. We’ve seen it in news programmes, and particularly during political debates, where people are urged to applaud or deride the comments of a politician. However, all of these pale in comparison when TV sport is added to the mix. Since the moment that sports events were first televised, viewers have been compelled to shout at the screen; to bemoan the decisions of the referee, to cheer a goal scorer or mock the opposing team. Deninger (2012, p.101) argues: As long as games and players continue to be exciting, teams remain the object of lifelong hope, or scorn, and, as long as live competition arouse passion, millions of people will continue to make the conscious choice to spend their leisure time watching sports on television. The second screen is able to enhance and amplify these pre-existing passions and to be a focus for fan-based activity and communities. For broadcasters, content producers, sporting organisations, clubs, betting firms, advertisers, data aggregators and games companies; it is also platform to monetise fan participation.

Enhanced sports When it comes to adding up the crucial ingredients for successful second screen engagement, sport appears to have it all. Unlike TV entertainment programmes, TV sports producers don’t have to engineer the ‘event’ itself. In sport there is a deeply rooted fan culture which inspires emotion, discussion and opinion. ‘Fans identify with each other through their shared passion, forming bonds stemming from shared experiences of team success and failure’ (Gill, 2012, p.151). By their nature sports games are best viewed live and as a result the televised coverage doesn’t lend itself to (or compete with) VOD and catch up services. Sport does present a number of

Monetising second screen gameplay


opportunities for enhanced interactive viewing on multiscreens: camera angles, player profiles, match statistics to name but a few. As we have seen, the BBC coverage of Wimbledon 2001 was a watershed moment in the history of interactive TV. The take up of the interactive services informed producers at the BBC not only what was possible in terms of added value coverage, it also opened their eyes to the scale of audience demand for enhanced online content during sports events. Hutchins and Rowe (2012) examined the internet activity in America during the coverage of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and concluded there was ‘evidence of a rich and popular second screen experience for fans and viewers’ (p.4). Some have even suggested that TV viewing with synchronised second screen activity may even be a better experience than going to a sports event itself. The second screen is focused on viewer agency: it puts the user in control by enabling social contact, providing tailored information and, at the touch of a screen, users can replay action or select different camera views on a whim. Galily (2014) argues ‘that watching sport on television at the beginning of the third millennium has become an enhanced experience, and hence, it transcends live attendance for traditional reasons but also new ones’ (p.720). London Olympics 2012 By the time of the London Olympics in 2012 the possibilities afforded by technological advancements had grown dramatically. The BBC promised ‘London 2012 will be the first truly digital games’ (BBC Media Centre, 2012). It covered every Olympic venue and every event live. As a result viewers had a choice of up to 24 live HD streams which could be viewed on four possible digital platforms: PCs, mobile platforms, tablet or connected TVs (which included games consoles and Red Button services). Overall the BBC produced 2,500 hours of programming during the two weeks of the games. According to the BBC Media Centre: ‘New innovations in online and broadcast video, and ground-breaking integration of in-depth data, social features and personalisation from the BBC, will set a new digital standard and provide a lasting legacy across BBC Online’ (BBC Media Centre, 2012). Personalisation was central to the BBC’s ethos around the event. It involved enabling audiences to follow and ‘favourite’ particular events, sports, athletes and teams and get tailored and live updates aligned to their preferences. The BBC created online pages filled with athlete and venue profiles which were updated in real time during the games. There was a social aspect to this too. As well as discussing the events, users could select sports commentary via their social media feeds. The BBC created a number of different ways people could engage with the digital Olympics content via their mobile devices. An interactive video player was embedded in the BBC Sport website which included live streaming, an athletes’ panel for information and extras button for additional added value material. ‘We are putting you in complete control of what you want to watch and when you want to watch it’ said BBC Sport presenter


Monetising second screen gameplay

Gary Lineker (2012). The mobile browser site which hosted the BBC Sport webpages was specially adapted for mobile screens. A free BBC Olympics app also enabled audiences to download and read content offline too. These mobile services were intended to be used by viewers on the move as well as a second screen whilst they were watching the BBC’s flagship Olympics coverage on TV.

Companion apps Televising sports events is an expensive business. In recent years the bidding wars over broadcast rights have escalated and the cost of sports rights has gone up dramatically as a result. TV sports rights holders are turning to digital platforms and developing companion apps to make the most of their commercial investment. This includes fostering social engagement as a way of creating audiences and increasing demand. According to Perform’s 2014 Global Media Consumption report: ‘Rights-holders and media companies are increasingly looking at ways to work social into the overall commercial offering’ (Perform et al., 2014, p.vii). In America most of the top sporting leagues have developed their own dedicated apps. The most popular include NBA’s ‘Game Time’ and the ‘At Bat’ app for Major League Baseball. Matt Millar, the CEO of the UK digital agency Tellybug, says: Major League Baseball in the US are doing a spectacularly good job in understanding how they can increase their value and own their audience by looking at live overlay and second screen stats, by finding valueadded experiences beyond what a TV broadcaster can do. (Author interview, September 2015) Other sporting apps have been designed to tap into a sports fans’ need for identity and community. It is something that Gantz and Lewis (2014) have highlighted: ‘Fans can open multiple applications on their mobile devices and gain immediate access to convenient, self-tailored content’ (p.763). Fancred is one mobile platform which provides a live streaming service which enables fans (in a stadium or at home in front of the TV) to share emotional opinions, discussions, frustrations and glories with one another. Fancred describes itself as the world’s fastest growing sports social network. Moe Hamdhaidari is the Head of Online (UK) for Deltatre, a digital sports media company. In 2014 he told the Westminster Media Forum: ‘passion generates opinion and opinion generates debate and obviously social media, in its own right, has given a fantastic platform for sports fans to be able to debate and talk’ (Hamdhaidari, 2014, p.35). Studies have suggested that sports fans are motivated to use social media for a variety of reasons ‘including emotional release’ (Yo and Wang, 2015, p.393). Fanmode is another supporters’ app which is a gesture-based digital product. It allows fans to wave, cheer or boo into their device during a sports match. Users can

Monetising second screen gameplay


give virtual ‘high fives’ to a particular player or team. All the digital emotion is then aggregated on a ‘Vibeboard’ and shared between participating fans. In the future it might even be possible to feed the Vibeboard on to big screens in a stadium to let a team know what the fans at home think of their performance. Both Fancred and Fanmode came from small and relatively humble beginnings. However, sometimes it is the small operators who are able to take risks and innovate in times of industry disruption. As Goggin (2013) states: ‘The apps stores have breached the “walled garden” of telecommunications carriers and mobile vendors by allowing even relatively small software producers to offer their wares to a global audience’ (p.31). Rugby: Six Nations and World Cup Rugby is a sport which provides fertile ground for second screen interactivity. The structure of the match and the flow of the action provide lots of opportunities for data-driven match analysis. During the Six Nations Rugby tournament in 2016, the technology partner Accenture launched an official companion app for the event. It created a ‘Locker Room’ space within the app to provide statistics and commentary. According to Accenture: ‘By creating a deeper understanding of the real game-changing factors throughout the tournament, rugby fans can expect new information, a new perspective, and a new way of seeing things’ (RBS 6 Nations, 2016). This was a service for rugby superfans: there were detailed match and player statistics including graphics on ‘tackle location’, ‘scrum half kicking’ and the percentage success rates of ‘kick collections’. A ‘momentum tracker’ presented a visual representation of the minute-by-minute team performance stats for each match. Fans could also use the app to participate in the Player of the Championship competition which was chosen ‘through a mix of match analytics and social media engagement’ (RBS 6 Nations, 2016). For much of this book, social media engagement has been labelled as the ‘backchannel’ discussion around a TV programme. However, in this instance, by giving social activity a key role in the selection of ‘Player of the Championship’, it takes social activity out of the backchannel and into the foreground. In 2015, a World Cup year for rugby, the media agency RadiumOne carried out market research to examine exactly how rugby fans used different technologies whilst they were watching sport. The study, which surveyed 2,738 nationally representative UK adults, categorised fans as either light, engaged or obsessed. The study found that nearly a quarter of so-called ‘obsessed fans’ posted comments on social media whilst they were watching a rugby match on TV. Beyond this 60 per cent of obsessed fans shared content online (RadiumOne, 2015). The report was, in part, designed to explore the extent to which commercial brands could benefit from the way in which fans used digital media. In the run up to the Rugby World Cup in England, the rights holders ITV Sport and the official organisers of the championships launched competing companion apps. In both cases the apps


Monetising second screen gameplay

enabled users to personalise their experience by selecting players, teams and information on fixtures. Both apps hosted enhanced content: news streams, leaderboards, video and stills content. They also linked to social networks and encouraged debate and discussion around the matches. The ITV app stood out with a new feature: a Specsavers sponsored ‘kick it’ game which enabled users to flick a ball over the posts and score a penalty. This was a second screen feature because the app was synced to the live match and when the referee awarded a penalty in the real game, users at home could attempt the same penalty on their phone or tablet. Rupert Staines is the managing director for RadiumOne in Europe and he explains the benefits for advertisers in aligning campaigns to second screen sports experiences: When you try and engage a sports fan there is a very clear connection between putting the right brand message in front of the right audience. Then you can also try to get them engaged in your brand with more gamification type formats. So you can really start to drive action and bring your brand into that occasion in a much more meaningful way. I think you’ll continue to see more gamification of advertising on both screens. (Author interview, December 2015) Broadcasters and advertisers are being inspired by games designers who have embraced the power of the mobile phone or tablet as a gaming platform. ‘A phone rarely leaves a person’s side nowadays,’ says Ben Lamm, CEO of Chaotic Moon gaming studios, ‘these devices know so much about our habits and us’ (cited in Fields, 2010, p.198). According to Gerard Goggin, sports and mobiles have become ‘symbiotically related’ (2013, p.27). He says ‘apps play a heightened role in the prosaic logistics and coordination of individuals and groups participating in and watching sport’ (2013, p.30). As we’ve seen, one of the major challenges for producers and broadcasters has been how to develop second screen experiences so that they enhance the first screen viewing experience rather than becoming a distraction or a rival to the TV. With sport this appears to be less of an issue. Most sporting matches have lulls in the action during which viewers can interact with their second screen without missing much of the game. In America many sports have pauses built into the structure of the game for TV adverts. As Gantz and Lewis (2014, p.766) state: Perhaps because there are so many breaks in the action (i.e., time between pitches or plays, time-outs for advertising and self-promotion, time for challenges and referee decisions, breaks between innings, quarters, halfs, and periods of play in baseball, American football, soccer, hockey), sports fans are able to simultaneously use traditional and newer media.

Monetising second screen gameplay


Keeping up with the races Within the arena of second screen sports apps there is an emerging subgenre which is proving very popular with fans: racing apps. They have moved beyond sporting data and social activity to tap into other motivations of sports users. The free version of the official Formula One app, for example, has all the features you would expect of a dedicated sports app. There are live race leaderboards, a schedule of events, video highlights and commentary. However, the unique real time second screen services are accessible only on payment of a subscription or annual pass which currently costs £19.99 in the UK. The special features are aimed at Formula One superfans and are designed specifically to be used whilst they are watching a race on television. There are live race timings and updated information on driver gears and tyre conditions. The app enables users to listen to team radio transmissions and race control messages as they happen. A 3D map lets users follow drivers around the circuit and keep up with their speeds. The whole thing is an immersive and interactive second screen experience. Along the same lines, the Team Sky app is designed for cycling fans to follow the team in every road race they compete in, including the Tour De France. Users can access maps to highlight the distance and elevation of any stage of the race. It describes the pace of the riders and their calories burned. There are behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries together with rider profiles and blogs. Of course, all of this content can be consumed without watching the race on TV; however, it does enhance the TV watching experience for superfans who have an appetite for additional content. Beyond this there’s also a link for people to get involved in cycling events across the country. For an additional fee the app contains what Sky describes as a ‘premium training function’ which enables users to get stats on their own cycling performance. The UK horse racing rights holders, Channel 4, and the digital agency Monterosa have created a new companion app which brings some of these same interactive second screen principles to horse racing. The Horse Tracker app enables second screen users to follow the position of their horse around the Grand National. It also has data on the speed, spread and lead of the horses. However, unlike the F1 app and Team Sky app this is unique because it isn’t focused on dedicated superfans. Instead Channel 4 wanted to increase its audience for horse racing by encouraging a new generation of viewers to watch the sport. So the app is directed at people who may only watch a few of the big, high profile races during the year starting with the Grand National. Tom McDonnell is the chief executive of Monterosa: Here is an audience that are once a year gamblers, who put money on more than one horse and who struggle to see where that horse is. Now you put out a call to action just before the race starts that says ‘Hey! Do


Monetising second screen gameplay you ever struggle to follow your horse around the Grand National? We’ve got a solution to that’. (Author interview, June 2015)

It was a simple idea and it proved very popular with second screen users. ‘It’s solving a problem, it sounds fun, it’s really easy to get. Bang. Hundreds of thousands of people do it,’ says McDonnell. ‘That’s why sport is exciting for me. Because it’s an existing set of passions. And it means you can drive numbers.’ Nick Rust is the Chief Executive of the British Horse Racing authority. To him the second screen tracker enhances the enjoyment of the sport for everyone: The commentators are doing their best but they can’t keep calling the changing positions of 40 horses. If you’ve put a couple of quid on a horse part of your entitlement in my view is you should be allowed to fully enjoy that run event though your horse may not be immediately up in the vanguard of the race. (Author interview, August 2015) Rust says that the sport is planning to expand the technology: ‘We are going to be working on this over the next two years’, he says, ‘we are starting to see horse tracking for data purposes for regular races as well. We are moving to a satellite based system with equipment that can be moved from course to course.’ Sports apps Aside from event and sport-specific apps, most media outlets with a sports remit in the UK have developed their own dedicated app. They are designed to be used as a platform for users to consume sports content in a way that is easy, convenient and personalised. This is an area in which traditional broadcasters are competing against other media outlets for the attention of sports fans. Inevitably sports rights holders have an advantage in this space; apps developed by Sky, BT Sport, ITV and the BBC, for example, enable users to watch some live sports on their mobile platform via their app (depending on their subscription packages). However, this is just a small proportion of the large number of independent sports apps available. Forza Football and Stats Zone are two mobile apps which are dedicated to providing real time sports statistics. The Onefootball app provides running commentaries on football matches and, uniquely, enables users to create online groups so that fans can message each other during a match. In this way second screen viewing allows people to recreate some of the camaraderie of watching a football match with friends even when they are not physically together in the same room.

Monetising second screen gameplay


Enhanced rights The proliferation of mobile platforms and second screen apps has created opportunities to develop new categories of rights. Sports rights have been traditionally carved up by territory, transmission type and the nature of the programming (e.g. live, highlights and clips). In the past rights holders have also created separate packages for TV, online and mobile rights. However, as media platforms converge Tom Burrows, Head of Legal Content at Perform Group, has this warning: ‘lawyers need to pay careful attention when defining the scope of rights in the media rights agreement so that the exclusivity afforded by each package does not overlap or conflict with the exclusivity afforded by any other package’ (Burrows, 2014). As with other TV genres and formats, viewers have used social media as a platform to mash up and share content. For some programme producers this has been a welcome development as social engagement on a second screen can increase the profile of a show. However, it also presents a unique challenge for sports rights holders and their licensees. It has become very easy for viewers to pause and rewind live TV so they can quickly film goals on their smart phones. Some fans then post six-second Vines of the video on to Twitter or other social media outlets without permission. This is one of a number of legal issues which arise as sports content becomes mobile and shareable. As Hutchins and Rowe warned in 2009: ‘the broadcast system will coexist and interact with complementary and competing content in online environments, producing unpredictable and occasionally legally fraught outcomes’ (p. 367). For News Corp, increasing and diversifying sports coverage has been a central element of its strategy as it migrates its business from print to digital. According to Simon Greenberg, Global Head of Rights at News Corp, sport is ‘one of the key verticals which can underpin that migration’. Beyond bidding for and securing rights it also involves engaging with fans across platforms and on social media sites. ‘Social media is absolutely fundamental and at the heart of growing our audiences and therefore growing our revenues’ he says. ‘The connectivity you get with the user, the speed you can get to the user, the way you can target the football fan’ (cited in Perform et al., 2014, p.viii). In the 2015/16 football season, News International had paid a significant sum to secure the online clip rights for Premiership games in the UK. At the time it cost viewers £8 a month to subscribe to Sun+ which featured these Premier League goals. However, the prevalence of shared Vines meant that many fans were accessing clipped video highlights for nothing. As Matt Roper, Head of Digital at STV, says: A lot of people want to consume sport on social media. Most goals online are Vines clipped off the TV. But Sky, BT and others have spent a huge amount of money to acquire the rights to these sports and this is picking away at that bundle. They would prefer to take control of this


Monetising second screen gameplay online demand and use it as a marketing tool. But at the moment it’s like the Wild West online. (Author interview, December 2015)

TV sports rights holders have begun to fight back. ‘It’s important to underline that it’s illegal to do this,’ said Dean Scoggins, Deputy Head of Sport at the Sun. ‘We’ve obviously signed a very big deal with the Premier League to be a rights holder and to show it, we’ve got legal teams talking with them about what we can do’ (cited in Williams, 2014). According to the Premier League, it is now deploying GIF and ‘Vine crawlers’ to detect videos which breach copyright law. However, this is an arduous task as ripped content can be uploaded and disseminated very quickly online and it is very difficult to identity those who are doing it.

Commercialising sports engagement Television sport is popular with advertisers as research demonstrates that the view-through rates are very high. This means that once people start watching a football match, for example, they generally keep watching until the end. This type of viewer inertia means that audiences are more likely to watch adverts during a game and absorb any brand message. David Springall is the CTO of the advertising firm Yospace: People are much more determined to stay with most forms of sporting content: it’s not snacking. The concept of view and average dwell times are ways of determining the engagement cycle. We ask ourselves: is this snacking or is this determined watching? And determined watching is where your goldmine is when it comes to advertising, because of high advertising view through rates. (Author interview, December 2015) However, as more and more people watch matches online or streamed onto mobile platforms through apps, it means that fewer are watching on linear TV. In 2015, an Accenture study into the connected consumer concluded that ‘ten per cent fewer people around the world watched sports on a TV screen last year’ (2015, p.2) and that ‘multi-screen usage is now a fact of life for most of us. Whether we’re checking emails and tweeting commentaries while watching a sports game on TV’ (p.6). As a result, brands who want to advertise around sports coverage now have to engage with mobile platforms and social networks at the same time as advertising on television. It requires a creative mindset that goes beyond developing a TV advert with a hashtag and hope people talk about it on Twitter. Tom McDonnell, from Monterosa, has this advice about monetising and advertising around the second screen:

Monetising second screen gameplay


Sport is a really exciting part of this. It’s all to do with motivation. TV still commands attention in the living room so if you can find out what the one thing is that is going to get the most people to respond, and either change tab, go to a different app, go to a mobile website, you need just one of those things. If you can find out what the most motivating call to action is – you can get an audience. Adidas was the official sponsor of the 2014 World Cup and has been supplying the official FIFA World Cup match ball since 1970. During the World Cup in Brazil, the sports brand even gave the match ball its own Twitter handle: @brazuca. Adidas launched its 2014 World Cup campaign on 24 May with an advert titled ‘the dream’. Within three weeks the video had garnered more than 33 million views on YouTube. At the end of the digital advert viewers were asked to make a choice: ‘all in’ or ‘nothing’. If users selected ‘all in’ it enabled them to receive Adidas World Cup digital and social content. Adidas also created the FIFA World Cup Chant Challenge which encouraged fans to take part in a digital campaign by creating an original chant for their national squad. However, it’s not only official sponsors and broadcasting rights holders who can gain a commercial advantage from the online buzz around sporting events. Adidas’ main commercial rivals Nike did not sponsor the World Cup tournament itself. Instead it chose to sponsor some of the key teams and individuals involved. For these two large brands, the World Cup in Brazil was a race to dominate the social space and trigger brand engagement with fans on the second screen. Adidas also sponsored the Argentine superstar Lionel Messi and the brand secured its biggest Twitter spike for the #allin campaign at the moment that Messi scored the winner against Iran on 24 June 2014. This is evidence that football viewers, in their thousands, were second screening on social media whilst watching the match. The engagement wasn’t all focused on Twitter either. According to Andrew Walsh at Repucom, ‘Both Nike and Adidas have increased their fan base on Facebook by 1.1m people so far in June. To adidas who have fewer Facebook fans than Nike however, this increase represents a greater jump’ (Repucom, 2014).

Fantasy sports Supporter passion drives the social conversation, it pushes the demand for added value content via a mobile and it also creates incentives and opportunities for digital companies and broadcasters to experiment and innovate with the technology. As the content of sports companion apps has shown, there is a growing appetite amongst users to play games and compete with each other around sports. This is where mobile fantasy sports comes in. The second screen didn’t create this demand: fantasy football leagues have been operated by newspapers for years. However, the advent of mobile platforms and the emergence of the second screen takes this to another level.


Monetising second screen gameplay

Fantasy sports users are able to play along in real time whilst watching sport on television. The Premier League in England operates a fantasy league around a companion app which boasts three million players and claims to be the ‘biggest Fantasy Football game in the world’ (Premier League, 2016). At the beginning of the 2015/16 season the Premier League teamed up with VisitBritain around the fantasy app and competition winners were awarded a seven-night break in the UK. The Telegraph newspaper runs free-to-play fantasy games around football, cricket and racing. In 2016 their football game had a total of £100,000 prize money including a £50,000 first prize for the winning team at the end of the season. However, season-long fantasy sports games don’t necessarily lead to second screen viewing. This type of fantasy play is a long term commitment and doesn’t require watching or engaging with individual matches live on TV. However, The Telegraph app does include ‘Ultimate Fan Live’ where fans can create leagues with their friends. Here users select two players before a match and earn points depending on the actions and heroics of their chosen football star. Users can also select ‘power up’ cards to boost their totals during the game. This is a play-along second screen experience in action. It turns a televised football match into a viewer participatory format akin to a quiz or a game show. In America this concept of daily fantasy sports has become big business and has greatly encouraged second screen activity in sport. This was driven, in part, by the strict regulation of online betting. US federal law ‘prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet’ (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, 2006). However, the Act excludes fantasy sports games which rely on an element of skill. Fanduel is an Edinburgh-based company which launched in 2009 and now claims to have an 80 per cent market share of the daily fantasy industry in the US. The company says that nearly a million people had downloaded its mobile app by the end of 2014. Jeremy Pippin is Fanduel’s Director of Product Management for mobile and emerging platforms. He says the game is intended to be played whilst people are viewing sports: It’s very difficult to see someone consuming fantasy game visualisations in lieu of the actual sports watching experience. As we look to source more media platforms like interactive TV, one of the more compelling factors we look for is the ability to consume our content alongside your regularly-viewed sports content. (Author interview, December 2015) The Fanduel app turns the fantasy second screen game into a visual experience: the leaderboards include a graphic racetrack at the top so players can see how close they are to the winners. According to Fanduel, their players end up watching more sports content as a result of playing their teams. ‘When users are playing fantasy games alongside watching TV,

Monetising second screen gameplay


there’s a material contribution to the thrill of the sports viewing experience’ says Jeremy Pippin: You’re watching a few players with laser precision; you get very excited when they perform athletic feats because now you have the opportunity to win money based on that. It really contributes to the overall excitement and making sports more exciting is our core mission. In the UK, fantasy play has also enabled sponsors and brands to find other avenues to tap into second screen engagement around sports. In 2015, Adidas partnered up with Monterosa, the digital agency behind the Million Pound Drop app, to develop its Rugby XV Challenge. This is a mobile version of a card trading game where users can collect rugby star players, build a squad and battle each other to get a place on a global leaderboard. According to Monterosa, ‘Adidas wanted to create a mobile-first activation that had players at its heart, and drove brand affinity, CRM [Customer Relationship Management], eCommerce and retargeting’ (Monterosa, 2015). The game advertises that players can win ‘money-can’t-buy prizes, signed merchandise and exclusive insight into the sport’ (Adidas, 2015). The commercial element is built into the heart of the game: users can click on a rugby player’s boots, for example, and they are immediately directed to the identical pair in the Adidas online shop ready to be bought. Betting on the World Cup Whilst the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act has certainly limited the scale and scope of online gambling in the US, in Britain it is flourishing. All the major bookmakers, including William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Coral, Bet365 and Betfair, developed betting apps and online mobile platforms for UK users in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. William Hill called it the ‘first truly mobile football betting tournament’ (William Hill, 2014). Globally William Hill stated it processed more than 462,000 bets placed on mobile devices during the World Cup Final day which it calculates was an increase of 6,598 per cent on 2010. According to the 2014 Ladbrokes’ annual report, their Mobile Sportsbook staking had risen by 110 per cent in that year. Their digital net revenue was up by over 22 per cent (Ladbrokes, 2014). In that same World Cup year Deloitte commissioned a report into the future of the British remote betting and gaming industry. The report quotes one gaming operator who predicts that the PC desktop computer will be dead ‘in five years’ (Deloitte, 2014, p.12). According to the report, a number of key betting industry leaders believed that: Mobile not only provides a new opportunity to engage with existing players, but also to react new customers. Existing players have embraced opportunities for more spontaneous gambling, especially in the evenings.


Monetising second screen gameplay They also value the use of such devices as second screens, particularly for in-play betting. (Deloitte, 2014, p.7)

In-play betting There may have been a dramatic rise in the number of people using mobile betting services but this doesn’t necessarily mean that all such engagement should be classified as ‘second screen’. Certainly you don’t have to be watching a match on TV to bet on the outcome via a smart phone. However, live in-play betting does strongly suggest that players are also watching the game. Nick Rust was the former managing director of retail at Ladbrokes: If I look at gambling services now, irrespective of whether you’re in a betting shop, the mobile and tablet device services around sports betting, they are largely built with an expectation that you are going to be watching live TV alongside your tablet experience. It’s fascinating to see it hit the mainstream now. We are a long way from red buttons and modems. The principle is everywhere now. It is something also observed by Maher (2013): ‘The development in recent years of online betting, betting exchanges and the availability of live scores in sports events through television and other media has provided the basis for this growth in in-play betting’ (p.303). In-play literally means placing a bet after a game has already started. Football betting customers, for example, can bet on anything from when the next goal will be scored and who will score it, to predicting which player will be sent off. On some platforms in-play betting goes beyond this. Skybet offers a ‘Cash Out’ feature which enables users to close out an open bet before play has been resolved. If a bet is eligible for Cash Out, SkyBet will offer settlement values during a game and the user has to decide whether to take the offer or keep playing and accept any risks involved. It turns the whole process of placing a sports bet from a passive ‘wait and see’ experience to something resembling a more dynamic play-along game. William Hill has embraced second screen with its own TV channel to accompany its mobile betting services. WHTV streams live coverage of sports events to registered users with a positive account balance or to those who have placed a bet within the past 24 hours. WHTV provides commentary, live stats as well as the latest in-play odds and prices. There are technical and logistical challenges here. Broadcast delay, we have seen, was a significant issue for the digital teams and producers working on play-along quiz shows and TV entertainment programmes with interactive voting formats. With in-play betting, where users can gamble on the timing of goals, corners and free kicks, any delay can cost users a lot of money. William Hill states that video streaming on WHTV is subject to a

Monetising second screen gameplay


delay of usually 10–30 seconds. However, it issues this warning to customers: ‘Please be aware that live transmissions by some broadcasters, including William Hill WHTV live streaming service, can be delayed and that this delay can vary between customers depending upon factors such as their connection or buffering speed’ (William Hill, 2016).

Sports data All of these second screen sports applications (whether in-play betting, fantasy sports, or race tracking) are built on one vital foundation: real time data. For Jeremy Pippin at Fanduel, data is one of the reasons why the US is ahead of the UK when it comes to fantasy sports: In the US the infrastructure that has built up around fantasy sports is much stronger. Statistics are a more salient factor in US sports, which typically have more scoring events than, say, Premier League football. It’s easier to create a statistically-driven experience that allows you to consume your fantasy sports in real time. In the same way, in-play betting requires fast real time stats to aid both users and bookmakers alike. For example, as horse tracking technology evolves it is likely to become a vital tool for people placing a bet. Nick Rust states: [tracking technology] will give them relevant data of the live position of the horses and their relative momentum at the time of the race. If you’re a super punter then you might want to know, for example, that the horses are going particularly fast for this type of race early on therefore it’s unlikely that the leader is going to last the trip home. Alongside superfans, then, we now have the notion of ‘super punters’: people who bet on sports games and use live data via a second screen to inform their decisions. Live in-play betting also depends on bookmakers being able to calculate and adjust odds on potentially hundreds of sports contests and games in real time. It requires detailed data gathering and automated analytics. According to Nick Rust: Individuals have built systems to do it. They’ve studied where they can source data from and the patterns of what is likely to happen over thousands and thousands of races and matches. They then provide a trend-based system that allows them to pitch the odds at the right level to tempt the customer of a particular betting website whilst at the same time still having the house edge on side. Those systems have largely come from city trading systems which have been adapted into bespoke betting systems.


Monetising second screen gameplay

Evolution of interactive betting This interplay between television, second screen and betting is not a new phenomenon. Interactive TV betting games have driven technical and production innovation since the early years of the new millennium. They were the early adopters of second screen use and genuine return-path audience participation. In July 2002, a live television bingo game called Avango launched. Here players could register, place 25p bets via their television remote control and win large payouts. The TV presenters could see the bingo cards filling up and talk about users by name on the show. In 2008 Challenge Jackpot launched on Virgin Media and Sky with a 24-hour interactive channel. Its two most popular games were Roulette Nation and Bingo Stars which normally aired between 10pm and 3am every night. Eventually Challenge Jackpot evolved into and became a regular interactive programme on ITV. Users could log in to the game online or via the app which encouraged players to join in because they might see their user name on screen during the ITV show. Sky Bet Live In 2002 Sky moved away from relatively low-profit telephone betting and instead targeted a wider spectrum of amateur gamblers who would place smaller bets more often. Initially this integrated betting around Premier League and Nationwide football on Sky’s Red Button interactive service. This was an era before tablets, social media and the widespread use of smart phones so the concept ‘second screen’ was still a far way off. However, whether SBL knew it or not, the service was introducing some of the key principles of second screen use by dividing the primary screen into segments. Nick Rust is the former Managing Director of Sky Bet: You could see the football match in 3/4 screen with the regular video coverage that you would see if you were watching on the main channel. An L-shaped wrap-around featured statistics, facts and also in-play betting opportunities. The commentary was knowledgeable and football related but it was focused completely on betting stats and what will happen next. It was about how you can enjoy it from a betting point of view. The interactive content also featured data on live betting and players were told which were the most popular bets. At first the service was relatively niche; according to Nick Rust there were about five thousand active users. However, the value to Sky went beyond the simple commercial income from betting. Instead there was value in creating a community of active and loyal users who were confident and engaged with interactive TV. As Nick Rust says: ‘If you have customers using more than one of those services they were

Monetising second screen gameplay


far far more likely to be loyal to Sky and retain that package. So it was an important part of it all.’ This model of interactive TV betting grew quickly beyond in-game sports betting. In 2004 Sky built a new TV studio in London to host Sky Vegas Live (Sky, 2004–2011) which was broadcast between 10pm and 2am. The show featured a number of jackpot and casino-style games played via the Red Button for users with a registered Sky Bet account. Again the presenters were able to see player data live and that was incorporated into the momentum of the show. ‘These were people who were all playing one or two quid per game, having tremendous fun and generating a profit over and above a studio build’ says Nick Rust: It was fabulous to see the demand and the fact that people wanted that play-along experience. The most powerful thing was the presenter looking into the camera, speaking to people live at home and saying, for example, ‘well done Mick you’ve got four up there, and that’s the best you’ve had since you started playing with us’. As a result you started to realise the power of TV was not just ‘sit back’ but lean forward. Eventually, as interactive TV betting platforms, Sky Vegas Live and Sky Bet Live proved to be unsustainable in the long term. The cost of presenters and a live studio production weren’t generating the necessary returns on Sky’s investment. Much of this was due to the internet – rather than Red Button services – becoming the preferred platform for betting games. One Sky betting channel did endure to become a second screen interactive game – Sky Poker. Users paid £10 to take part in live tournaments which ran from 8pm until midnight on a dedicated TV channel. There were live presenters and commentators and the show created virtual reality graphics of poker hands being played out. It launched in 2005 and at first players could interact with the poker show by red button or via the internet. It was the first evidence of Sky moving away from red button interaction and towards something that would eventually become second screen activity. Nick Rust explains: It had a live TV channel which was purely there for interactive purposes but it wasn’t reliant on interactive TV red button response. You could participate either through that or what is effectively a second screen. But in those days the second screens would have been fixed desktops or laptops. There were no iPad style devices on your lap at that point. For the next ten years Sky Poker was a popular interactive service which generated dedicated followers of second screen play-along users. In 2015 Sky Betting and Gaming became an independent company and as a result the Sky Poker TV channel stopped broadcasting in March 2015. Instead a slimmed down version of Sky Poker TV moved to a single slot on Sky Sports. At the same time there was also a move away from live broadcasting: ‘We


Monetising second screen gameplay

will be focusing on producing pre-recorded TV’ stated an article on the website (Sky Poker, 2015). Since then Sky Poker has become a more webbased user experience. There is still a dedicated Sky Poker YouTube channel where every week a ‘recreational player’ has the chance to compete against one of Sky’s team of professional players. So an element of second screen user participation persists here, but as an interactive experience it has diminished from the heyday of Sky’s interactive offering. There is big money in sports broadcasting and, as rights holders have sought to capitalise on their investment by embracing digital platforms, some of this money has been invested in innovating around second screen experiences. Sports companion apps have led the way in developing tracking technologies which enable second screen users to keep up with races on their mobile devices. In-play betting and fantasy sports have created a new industry in real time sports data acquisition and analysis. Where we’ve had two official companion apps competing over the same sporting event (the 2015 Rugby World Cup) it is a sign that second screen use is becoming the norm in this field. It has also provided a lucrative platform for advertisers to reach a passionate audience and enable them to interact and even play-along with their brand message. This begins to reveal the many ways commercial broadcasters are now able to monetise second screen engagement across all TV genres.

Bibliography Accenture (2015) Digital Video and the Connected Consumer. Available at: www. Conversion-Assets/DotCom/Documents/Global/PDF/Dualpub_15/AccentureDigital-Video-Connected-Consumer.pdf%20-%20zoom=50 Adidas (2015) Become an Adidas Rugby Insider. Available at: https://rugbyinsider. BBC Media Centre (2012) BBC Digital Olympics. Press report. Available at: www. Boyle, R. (2004) Mobile communication and the sports industry: the case of 3G. Trends in Communication 12. Burroughs, B. & Rugg, A. (2014) Extending the broadcast: streaming culture and the problems of digital geographies. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 58(3): 365–380. Burrows, T. (2014) How Social Media and Smart Devices Are Influencing the Negotiation of Sports Media Rights Agreements. Available at: www.lawinsport. com/articles/item/how-social-media-and-smart-devices-are-influencing-thenegotiation-of-sports-media-rights-agreements Deloitte (2014) The Future of the British Remote Betting and Gaming Industry: Adapting to a Changing Landscape. London: Deloitte. Deninger, D. (2012) Sports on Television: The How and Why Behind What You See. New York and Abingdon: Routledge.

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Fields, T. (2010) Mobile & Social Game Design: Monetisation, Methods and Mechanics. Boca Raton: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group. Galily, Y. (2014) When the medium becomes ‘well done’: sport, television, and technology in the twenty-first century. Television and New Media 15(8): 717–724. Gantz, W. & Lewis, N. (2014) Sports on traditional and newer digital media: is there really a fight for fans? Television & New Media 15(8): 760–768. Gill, M. (2012) Communicating organizational history to sports fans. In Earnheardt, A. C., Haridakis, P. M. & Hugenberg, B. S. (eds), Sports Fans, Identity, and Socialization. Exploring the Fandemonium. Maryland: Lexington Books. Goggin, G. (2013) Sport and the rise of mobile media. In Rowe, D. & Hutchins, B. (eds), Media Sport: Technology, Power and Identity in the Network Society, pp.1–15. New York: Routledge. Hamdhaidari, M. (2014) The future of social television – commercial opportunities, audience engagement and live programming. Based on transcript from Westminster Media Forum Event – TV and the Second Screen: Social Media, Innovation and Regulation. 27 November 2014. Hutchins, B. & Rowe, D. (2009) From broadcast scarcity to digital plenitude. Television and New media 10: 4. Hutchins, B. & Rowe, D. (2010). Reconfiguring media sport for the online world: an inquiry into sports news and digital media. International Journal of Communication 4: 696–718. Hutchins, B. & Rowe, D. (eds) (2012) Sport Beyond Television: The Internet, Digital Media and the Rise of Networked Media Sport (Vol. 40). New York: Routledge. Jenkins, H. (1992) Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York, NY: Routledge. Ladbrokes (2014) Annual report. 2014 highlights available at: http://ar2014. Lineker, G. (2012) Gary Lineker talks about the BBC’s new interactive video player. BBC Media Centre. Available at: Maher, M. (2013) Predicting the outcome of the Ryder Cup. IMA J Management Math 24(3): 301–309. Monterosa (2015) Adidas XV Challenge. Available at: Pegoraro, A. (2013) Sport fandom in the digital world. In Pedersen, P. M. (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Sport Communication. London: Routledge. Perform, Kantar Media Sport & SportBusiness (2014) Global Sports Media Consumption Report 2014: Global Overview. Global Sports Media Consumption report 2014 surveyed 16 global sports markets. Premier League (2016) The official fantasy football game of the Barclays Premier League. Available at: RadiumOne (2015) Rugby Fans & Technology. Market analysis report conducted with T-Poll. RBS 6 Nations (2016) Official RBS 6 Nations app: Statistics. Available at: www. Repucom (2014) Nike vs Adidas - the latest social media figures. Available at: http:// Sky Poker (2015) Sky Poker TV is Changing. Available at: secure/poker/sky_lobby/poker-news/sky-poker-tv-is-changing


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Solberg, H.A. & Helland, K. (2011) Sports broadcasting: an accelerator of business integration in the media industry. Nordicom Review 32(2): 17–33. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2010) Examination Handbook Section 770. US Treasury Department. Available at: financial/2010/fil10035a.pdf William Hill (2014) Wonderful World Cup – Twenty Two Million Bets Placed. Available at: William Hill (2016) Bet Live in-play now. Available at: com/bet/en-gb/betlive/all Williams, M. (2014) Premier League warns about posting goal videos online. BBC Newsbeat. Available at: Yu, Y. and Wang, X. (2015) World Cup 2014 in the Twitter world: A big data analysis of sentiments in US sports fans tweets. Computers in Human Behavior 48: 392–400.


Advertising ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

For television advertisers, and the broadcasters who rely on advertising revenue, the second screen is both a golden opportunity and an escalating threat. Viewers are increasingly using phones and tablets as ‘distraction devices’ during advert breaks. According to research by the Pew Research Centre in America, 38 per cent of viewers ‘use their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials’ (Smith, 2012). Young television audiences, in particular, are using mobiles to engage with social media or search the web during ad breaks in TV programmes and that is reducing the impact of TV adverts. Rupert Staines, from the digital agency RadiumOne, outlines the problem for advertisers: The ‘second screen’ effect means that when adverts are being broadcast there’s a tendency for consumers to switch off, look away and search for their other device to fulfil more content consumption needs. That could be social networks or sharing a piece of content or shopping whilst you’re watching. (Author interview, December 2015) Alongside this, audiences are fragmenting across new channels and mobile platforms. As the viewing habits of the Millenial and post-Millenial generations have shown, their consumption of TV content is becoming increasingly channel agnostic. Google’s analysis into the ‘Evolution of TV’ states: ‘it’s much harder for that advertiser to reach that 18–34-year-old audience the way it always did via traditional linear TV’ (Google, 2015). As young people move away from linear TV they are becoming more elusive in their media consumption. According to Tom McDonnell, CEO of the digital agency Monterosa, this is why advertisers are turning to interactive mobile platforms: Globally there is a ramp in investment in interactive TV formats because they are perceived by broadcasters to be a way of attracting a younger audience who are dropping off. They are also responding to advertiser demand to create new synchronised media to sell. It’s more effective if


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’ you’ve got an ad on two screens than one. So globally there is a lot of investment. (Author interview, June 2015)

Established TV advertising models do not apply in isolation any more, and traditional TV viewing metrics now seem outdated and inaccurate. Yet, overwhelmingly, there is guarded optimism within the industry. Nick Hall is the Director of Digital Media operations at Endemol: ‘We think there are untapped opportunities in these second screen experiences. As viewers are less inclined to put up with interruptive forms of advertising brands are increasingly looking to be part of the experience embedded within the content itself’ (author interview, December 2015). In the same way that multi-platform interaction can strengthen the emotional bond between viewer and TV programme it can also cement engagement with a commercial brand. However, this is no longer about creating adverts that people will simply watch. The second screen gives advertisers and broadcasters a platform to create adverts that encourage various forms of audience engagement. On one level viewers can actively choose to watch an advert, on the next level they’re able to share it and then they might also decide to interact with it and change it. It is a hierarchy of active engagement in advertising. But this is a customer centred approach which requires new approaches. Kat Hebden is the managing director of the digital division at Fremantle Media: ‘We are constantly looking at new ways we can engage brands around content which isn’t annoying or disruptive, that doesn’t have a big cutoff rate because people see an ad and just switch off’ (Author interview, June 2015). One way to do this is by creating interactive adverts embedded in second screen content and linked to a TV ad spot.

ITV and The X Factor ITV launched Ad Sync in 2012: a new concept in TV advertising which synchronised advertising campaigns across two screens concurrently. This means that when an advert appears on The X Factor, for example, then linked interactive branded content simultaneously appears on the X Factor App. It allows advertisers to ‘take over’ the app with branded play-along games during TV ad breaks. According to ITV it ‘delivers the message straight to the most intimate screen in the living room’ (ITV plc, 2014). Rimmel London was the first advertiser to try out the ITV advertising format with a new Kate Moss lipstick range in 2012. As the TV ad started, the X Factor app was filled with a Rimmel-branded carousel of contestant images which users could swipe and select. Fans could watch exclusive videos, enter competitions and click-to-purchase the lipstick range online. Jon Block was head of ITV commercial innovation at the time. He describes how the team was inspired by interactive Video On Demand adverts:

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


Figure 8.1 iPad screen shot from the companion app for ITV’s The X Factor. Image courtesy of Fremantle Media.

We found that if you put a carousel on an interactive VOD (Video On Demand) advert the engagement rate was much higher because a carousel is a standard user experience paradigm, and people weren’t afraid to interact. I think it was this initial decision that helped make Ad Sync a success. (Author interview, January 2016) According to ITV the campaign had a click-through-rate (CTR) of ‘9.4% across half a million impacts’ which is nine times more than the average mobile banner CTR. Following analysis into the impact, ITV released figures which calculated that the number of people investigating the brand rose by 40 per cent after viewing the advert. Jon Block puts that into perspective: ‘Engagement rates for the very best interactive VOD adverts were about 8 to 10%. Normally it would be between 2 and 4%. So to have 40% of people engaged and using the carousel – that was astronomical.’ Since those early days a number of big brands have taken part in interactive second screen campaigns with ITV Ad Sync including McDonald’s, Strepsils and Specsavers. In a short time, the interactive adverts evolved into branded games which users could play whilst watching the TV. Kat Hebden leads the digital team behind the X Factor app:


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’ We usually have a main sponsor for the whole app and then we design bespoke functionality for additional brands. For example, Domino’s have been our app sponsor on The X Factor for the last few years. For them we built a vouchering wallet system that works with exclusive games. X Factor fans can play a game, win a voucher, store it in the wallet and then redeem that voucher and get 20% off a pizza, all within the app. (Author interview, June 2015)

In 2013, more than two-thirds of X Factor app users played the Domino’s game and as a result Domino’s put interactive games at the heart of its X Factor commercial strategy the following year. Then, during the final of the 2014 series of Britain’s Got Talent on ITV, an interactive Ad Sync game with Virgin Media scored record breaking levels of participation on the second screen. Jon Block kept a record of the statistics: ‘76.25% engaged with the creative,’ he says, ‘45.5% played the game a second time. I don’t think I’ll ever be involved with an advert again when 76 per cent of people engage with the creative. It was incredible.’ Adverts were not imposed on viewers, instead the marketing strategies focused on respecting viewer agency and creating experiences that users wanted to engage with. In 2015, the mobile company Talk Talk sponsored the popular free voting within the X Factor app. App users received one free vote and then, to unlock the four other votes, they could choose to watch a short interstitial advert. Talk Talk also created a stand-alone app called ‘Bopheads’ which encouraged fans to film themselves singing along to famous songs and share the results. The best videos were chosen to appear at the end of one of the X Factor ad breaks. It encouraged viewers to stay engaged during the ad break and it raised brand awareness. However, taking this further, the strategy focused on fostering an online community of followers around a brand and inspired users to share content on social media. In this way players became advocates for the brand and the show. The process is replicated on X Factor and the Got Talent franchise companion apps in the UK and around the world. Kat Hebden says: ‘We calculate which KPIs are most important to the brand; whether it’s views, product signup, engagement, etc., and then we devise a creative solution that drives the audience to fulfil those priorities.’ The same principle also applied to entertainment programmes and quiz shows on Channel 4 and Channel 5. Nick Hall from Endemol says: ‘You’ve got a call to action live on air driving you into a second screen experience and that’s where a brand can be.’ Hall says, ‘The brand can be embedded within the content itself. If those integrations are done in a smart way you can really get a win for the brand, for the audience, for broadcasters and production companies’ (author interview, December 2015). To be a success, the process requires a shift in the mindset around the nature and role of TV adverts: whether that is focused on driving brand awareness, creating direct response around a call to action or increasing social

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


participation. As TV audiences have fragmented and migrated onto multiple platforms, advertisers and marketeers have had to embrace this by creating synchronised campaigns across TV, mobile and online. As Robyn Blakeman observes, ‘TV is no longer the last word on the advertised message’ (Blakeman, 2014, p.74). Viewers are turning away from the traditional interruptive 30-second TV spot during a show. ‘I think broadcasters need to have a go at evolving the way they sell around digital content’ says Kat Hebden.

Interactive product placement Beyond Ad Sync there have been a number of other ways that brands have been able to benefit from an association with popular shows on the second screen, particularly with interactive product placement. For example, the beauty range Tresemmé sponsored X Factor Backstage where one of their stylists uses branded products to make up contestants on the show. ITV describes this as a ‘vertical partnership’ which includes additional video and promotional content within the app. Matt Millar is the CEO of Tellybug, the digital agency which builds the X Factor app for Fremantle Media. He is responsible for weaving the product placement partnerships into the app: It’s not an advert for Tresemmé, it’s showing you how the Tresemmé products are used in the app. It’s digital product placement. You’ve got some advertising standards guidance in the UK: you must make it clear if it’s being paid for by a client. But you’re in the same space as video bloggers here. They are different to Ofcom rules on TV. (Author interview, September 2015) Ofcom has approved product placement (PP) in UK television programmes since February 2011 although the regulations still set conditions on the type and amount of product placement on broadcast TV. Within an app, on the other hand, broadcasters have much more freedom and flexibility. For Marc Goodchild, founding director of the digital agency Sync Screen, product placement within the second screen offers opportunities to monetise content without overly disrupting the viewer experience: If you’ve got a show with product placement or a sponsor, that’s where the innovation could happen. It can be opt-in so it doesn’t have to be forced on people. And if people are using second screen applications it means they are more engaged than normal viewers. If you’re more engaged then you’re more interested in the content and that probably means they are more conducive to whatever it is that you’re trying to sell. (Author interview, November 2015) However, the notion of paid-for second screen product placement can create concerns for broadcasters. In July 2013, Channel 4 broadcast a series of


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

fashion and lifestyle programmes called Gok Live: Stripping for Summer: a show which had significant potential for lucrative product placement. This was a second screen project with a difference: there was no companion app and Facebook and Twitter were not officially involved either. Instead the production company, Endemol, teamed up with another social network. ‘We did an Instagram integration with Gok Live’ says Karen Troop, Executive Digital Producer at Endemol. ‘Instagram is a really big platform where fashion is concerned as people are often posting fashion images’ (author interview, December 2015). For the producers, it was crucial to understand the social activity of the programme’s target audience and to then tap into something that was already happening organically. ‘There was a slot in the show itself where we asked people to send Instagram images of themselves with the hashtag #helpmegok,’ says Troop. ‘They then went into a live segment in the show and Gok replied to those people live on air.’ The programme used the Instagram platform to post entire outfits complete with information on the brand, the retailer and the prices. On some occasions the clothes featured on Instagram sold out quickly in the shops. However, the programme makers didn’t try to set up product placement partnerships for the show: ‘This was the first time we did this so we didn’t approach the retailers. Had we gone into another series then that would be something we may have wanted to do,’ says Troop. ‘We were being contacted by those retailers during the series.’ It is a dilemma: product placement in the second screen can bring in additional revenue streams. However, even if Ofcom restrictions on product placement don’t apply in the second screen, it was still important for the programme to be seen to be fair in its advice to viewers. ‘In terms of the TV show we’ve always been impartial about the clothes that we feature’ says Nick Hall at Endemol. ‘Because we’ve been open about that we’ve always been able to show the prices on screen. The digital extensions give you an opportunity to do that in a different way. The deals that you can do are different.’

Cost of interactive adverts There is a significant drawback here. Real time synchronised companion apps are expensive to develop and run and, as a result, apps have had to prove they can pay their way. Traditionally the cost of linear TV advertising is determined by the amount of money it takes for an ad to reach a thousand target viewers (or a thousand commercial impacts). This is known as the Cost Per Mille or CPM and it’s a measure of the efficiency of an advertising campaign. Calculating an average CPM across the media in the UK is an almost impossible task as different broadcasters will present a variety of costs depending on time, channel, programme and target audience. In general, in terms of audience numbers, it’s a question of scale: broadcast TV is generally cheaper than online video advertising (including VOD and simulcast) because more people are watching TV (for now at least). Yet if advertisers want to

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


target the elusive younger audience then online video and VOD is becoming an increasingly popular platform for this. But, are we examining like for like? Does it make sense to compare the number of people who have passively seen a TV advert with those who have actively participated in an app-based mobile game linked to the branding around a TV show? To respond to this challenge a new advertising commercial metric is emerging in this area: the cost per engagement (CPE). It’s a complicated and fast-evolving area with many advertising agencies having to deal with a number of metrics at once: CPMs, CPEs as well as CTRs. Where do interactive second screen adverts fit into this picture? For advertisers looking for scale, the level of companion app engagement – although growing for many TV programmes – is still relatively small compared to TV viewers overall. As a result, the relative CPM for interactive campaigns is considerably higher than both TV and VOD. ‘One of the issues with this is that it is niche. It only works with these game shows that have a very engaged audience on the second screen,’ says Jon Block, former head of ITV commercial innovation. ‘We tried to think of how we could create decent Ad Sync campaigns with small shows or with apps that worked across shows. But it doesn’t add up, at least not with the same type of format. It’s too expensive.’ In November 2015 ITV announced a new partnership with the digital agency RadiumOne and together they launched Ad Sync+. This wasn’t so much of a technical upgrade of the original concept, instead it was more about taking the interactive principle, making it cheaper, more accessible to other advertisers and, therefore, expanding its reach across a wider variety of programmes and digital platforms. Rupert Staines, the European Managing Director for RadiumOne, explains: We can help advertisers increase consumer reach by simultaneously showing their advertising across multiple devices as well as the TV when that advert is broadcast. It’s about driving a much bigger return on the investment for advertisers by combining the power of channels as opposed to saying that one is better than the other because that’s simply not the case. When it comes to creating adverts that viewers choose to watch, developing a multiscreen approach for advertisers has other advantages too. Unlike terrestrial linear TV, networked devices gather data about their uses which can lead to an automated and more personalised system for joined-up advertising across screens. Programmatic advertising ‘It makes your head spin’ said Nikki Mendonca, EMEA President of the OMA media agency, ‘it’s very exciting, with seismic change comes a lot of


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

opportunity’. According to Mendonca, 2015 was a pivotal year of change which had ‘a tsunami of challenges and opportunities’ (Mendonca, 2015). Richard Brooke, the director of Media Operations and Strategy at Unilever, agreed: there are ‘boundless opportunities’, he said, ‘disruption is at a maximum’ (Brooke, 2015). They were talking at the future of TV advertising conference in London in December 2015. Here one of the buzzwords of the year was the idea of programmatic advertising and it was a rare speech that didn’t mention the concept of ‘programmatic’ at least once during the event. However, as some executives were also quick to point out, ‘programmatic’ isn’t a new concept in advertising at all. Online display adverts have been traded programmatically for years because of the scale of the display market. ‘Programmatic’ simply refers to an automated system of buying and selling adverts. Even within TV advertising this is not a new phenomena. However, the opportunities afforded by programmatic are becoming clearer in the multiscreen world. As technology develops and as our understanding of the TV audience improves, programmatic advertising is getting better, more relevant and more efficient. Programmatic systems of advertising also enable greater synchronisation between TV and mobile devices when it comes to deploying an advertising campaign over a number of different platforms at the same moment. To do this a TV advert has to employ either audio watermarking or audio fingerprinting technologies. Watermarking embeds additional audio information into the audio stream of an advert which can act as a trigger for other material. The British based company Shazam specialises in ‘audio fingerprinting’: a technology which automatically recognises audio wave patterns within music or TV programmes. As far back as 2012 companies like Pepsi Max and Cadbury were broadcasting Shazam-enabled adverts in the final of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. At this stage users were encouraged to ‘tag’ the adverts on their second screens to unlock exclusive material and enter competitions. In 2014, following a study with Nielsen, the company announced: ‘Shazamable TV ads delivered on the promise of improving recall and engaging viewers, while maintaining the integrity of the first screen experience’ (Shazam, 2014a). Some digital agencies have developed technologies which effectively listen to the output of all of the major TV broadcasters in the UK. If an advert has been audio fingerprinted, this is detected by one of the automated media servers, and this could trigger any number of digital marketing scenarios depending on the campaign strategy of the advertiser. For example, a TV advert might trigger synchronised and interactive adverts to appear in certain websites and within the social media feeds of certain audience demographics. According to Jon Block, ‘There are tech companies that can listen into all the broadcast channels and within about 2 seconds they can recognise a broadcast advert and immediately put in a request to DSPs [Demand-Side Platforms] to buy a tonne of display ads, all within a 5 minutes period after the TV ad has aired.’ This means that someone watching

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


TV and second screening on Facebook could see synchronised and complementary adverts on both screens during the same period. Some advertisers might choose to go beyond this too: a company could set its online webpage search terms to change the moment that an ad airs on TV. Then if a TV viewer (having been inspired by an ad) decided to Google search the brand name, they would be taken to a new and temporary website dedicated to the advert and the distinct brand message that was at the centre of the TV ad campaign. The triggers for a campaign don’t have to be the adverts themselves. A real world event could prompt a synchronised multi-platform campaign. This might include, for example, Lionel Messi scoring a goal in the Champions League leading to an Adidas campaign within seconds or a weather report for rain prompting a number of adverts for Gore-tex clothing. RadiumOne was the agency involved in the later campaign. According to Rupert Staines: We were able to advertise on the second screen and use the weather as a signal to whether the ad campaign should be launched or not. That was a very good case … We will know the detail of what the brand story is trying to tell and which audience it is trying to reach. Then, literally within 200 milliseconds, our systems and our ad servers will start a campaign which will be delivered against certain audience types and audience segments. (Author interview, December 2015) Targeted, automated, synchronised and interactive: this is how TV and digital advertising is evolving. However, there is still one other concept that is missing here: personalisation. Addressable advertising In the autumn of 2015, at about the same time that ITV was announcing its partnership with RadiumOne to deliver Ad Sync Plus, Channel 4 revealed that it had teamed up with another digital agency, Yospace, to ‘introduce personally targeted video ads across all of its online content’ (Davies, 2015). In this commercial deal, Channel 4 signalled that it was moving away from traditional linear advertising to a system which enables the channel to replace any advert within content on the All4 player: both within Video On Demand (VOD) and, significantly, during live simulcast programming. David Springall is the CTO for Yospace: ‘The partnership came about from us socialising the concept of ad replacement in simulcast quite a while ago while they were thinking about how to better monetise the linear streaming format within their online presence’ (author interview, December 2015). Alongside other broadcasters, Channel 4 gathers first-party data on its users when they register for All4. By the end of 2015, All4 had 13 million


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

registered users including half of the UK’s 16–34-year-old population. The registration process gathers information on age, name, gender, location and lifestyle which is then fed into a premium programmatic system to create a viewer profile for each device. Marie James, Digital Content Producer at Channel 4, describes how this helps Channel 4 understand its audience: Through Channel 4’s initiative around logged in users we can understand more about our audience. We know who they are, where they are watching, how long they are watching, when they stop watching, what they watch next, where they came from, what they were doing online at the time. There is one thing about second screen, in an On Demand capacity, and that’s to understand your viewers’ habits more often. That means in a world where there’s so much demand for your attention online and on TV, you are able to better target content towards the viewer. (Author interview, August 2015) Channel 4 is able to create a personalised service with programme alerts, reminders and recommendations. Beyond this, according to Jonathan Lewis, Head of Digital Partnerships and Innovation at Channel 4 speaking at the Future of TV Advertising summit, ‘it offers advertisers a sophisticated and efficient way of reaching their desired audience based on Channel 4’s first party audience data’ (Lewis, 2015). As a result, All4 viewers will see different personalised adverts but at the same point in the programme. At the end of 2014 Channel 4 experimented with addressable advertising with two campaigns: Coca Cola and My Burberry. Viewers could receive personalised products including a monogrammed Burberry fragrance bottle or a Coke bottle with their name on it (1.4 million users received the personalised Coke bottle). Since then Channel 4 has extended its programmatic addressable advertising to viewers watching a simulcast of Channel 4 content. Channel 4 streams content to 25 different platforms and this allows advertisers to develop genuine cross-platform campaigns. However, for live simulcasts the adverts have to be dynamically replaced in real time. ‘When a call is made to an ad server to make a decision for a particular user there are usually two key pieces of information: who the user is and what are they watching,’ says David Springall. ‘Those two mechanisms are key within the All4 implementation. User tracking takes place to ensure that they don’t see the same adverts every time.’ This addressable technology is not unique to Channel 4 audiences and it’s not dependent on online and mobile viewing either. Sky TV has developed a personalised advertising system called AdSmart across the vast majority of its main digital TV channels. In promoting the service to advertisers it says AdSmart ‘levels the playing field, so businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from the advertising impact of TV’ (Sky, 2015). The size and scale of TV broadcasting has always been one of the most significant advantages of

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


the medium. If an advertiser wants both impact and reach then television is still the most obvious media platform to achieve this. However, scale is not always beneficial as it doesn’t accommodate minority interests. If a company is in the business of marketing a relatively local or niche product then traditional linear TV advertising may not be appropriate. However, addressable advertising changes all that. Sky promotes its AdSmart initiative to ‘niche brands, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and location specific-advertisers’ (Sky, 2015). For example, a Virgin Trains advertising campaign wanted to target specific people who lived near their major destinations. According to Sky, their test audience was six times more likely than the ‘linear comparison audience’ to book tickets on a Virgin train (Sky Media, 2015). In the same way, when the online dating company approached Sky they were able to develop an addressable campaign that targeted only Sky customers who lived in single occupancy households or were home-sharers. Like All4, Sky AdSmart develops household profiles based on customer data from its registration process. Other organisations are experimenting in this area too and addressable advertising is evolving rapidly as audience data streams feeding into the process are becoming more sophisticated and more detailed. Beyond user registration details there is scope to factor in online cookies which contain information on internet search histories. David Springall from Yospace says: Audience tracking networks track users using cookies from a wide range of web sites. The web sites you visit are then used to determine what demographic you might be. This information can then be used to inform an ad server to select the most relevant advertising to present within your stream. Supermarket loyalty cards, for example, may also feed into the data set. In America, where TV political advertising is such a crucial part of the US Primaries, TV networks have been offering addressable advertising spots which reach only voters of a certain political persuasion. Nancy Scola writes in the Washington Post: ‘The satellite television providers have partnered with Democratic and Republican data shops to harness information about their 20 million customers and deliver television ads tailored to the viewer’ (Scola, 2014). Investing in the niche Addressable advertising makes TV and multi-platform video advertising more affordable for niche brands to reach specific audiences. Second screen synchronised adverts are another way of engaging with a defined and select audience: the active, tech savvy, ‘lean-forward’ customers. In the new television ecosystem there is no longer a ‘one size fits all’. In his book The


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

Curve, Nicholas Lovell (2013) describes a ‘fragmentation in business models’ as the internet dominates so many commercial markets. ‘Even television, the ultimate mass medium, is becoming niche,’ he says (2013, p.61). The Curve argues that companies should embrace the notion of ‘free content’ as a way of developing followers and transforming them into superfans. ‘Seek out the super fans who love what you do,’ Lovell says. ‘To use the cheap distribution of the internet to start the process of connecting with fans – and then craft products, services and artistic creations for which they will pay lots of money’ (p.xii). He is not talking about TV directly, but marketing in the age of Web 2.0 as a whole. However, the concept of converting a community of followers into superfans applies very neatly with second screed activity and the opportunities for broadcasters to monetise around mobile platforms. The notion of the ‘superfan’ has come up a number of times in these pages: first around theories of Uses and Gratifications and the motivation of viewers in consuming TV content. Next, it appeared around notions of para-social relationships and the increasing social interaction between viewers, TV characters and personalities on social media networks. Then, as interactive TV evolved over the past 20 years, the idea of ‘enhanced TV’ emerged and producers focused on creating additional added-value multiscreen content beyond the limits of linear TV. Seen through this lens, synchronised adverts, in-app product placements, commercialised play-along games and sponsored free voting are all methods deployed to monetise the engagement of fans as they journey from TV into the participatory second screen space. In this way brand advertising can use second screen interactivity to embed itself into the transmedia narrative of a TV programme: advertising can become part of the paratext of a show. Rupert Staines at RadiumOne states: People typically don’t respond to brand advertising immediately. But you can start the journey with TV, continue that journey through your mobile device and then follow that right through to an action or even a transaction. So the ad sync concept is all about storyboarding for an appetite. Lovell discusses the need ‘to respond directly to the curve of consumer demand’ (2013, p.6). Viewed from the perspective of TV advertising, the curve is the ‘consumer journey’ towards brand engagement which needs time and investment from content creators. ‘This is about trying to drive or track a consumer journey from initial impact through to transaction,’ says Staines. Let’s examine one example from the early days of Ad Sync on the X Factor app: in 2013 the supermarket giant ASDA created a Christmas campaign with an interactive game at its heart. During a 30-second ASDA spot on TV, a synchronised game appeared in the X Factor app in which users were asked to build a snowman with an assortment of accessories including buttons, coloured hats, scarves etc. People were encouraged to

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


share the results on social media and, in doing so, enter a competition for a chance to win a £500 shopping spree. The customer journey started with a free and enjoyable game and ended, the advertiser hoped, with a purchase online and new loyal customers. Ultimately, according to ITV, the game saw engagement rates of 54 per cent with a click through rate (CTR) of 20 per cent – a figure that is significantly higher than the average interactive VOD ad. Similarly Channel 4 has created what it calls ‘Ad journey’ within its premium, programmatic and addressable offerings. This gives brands the opportunity to create an orchestrated campaign on All4 which can ‘target bespoke audiences in real time’ (Lewis, 2015). ‘Ad journey’ knows which adverts have already been seen by individual audience members and can then offer up different but linked creative output the next time that user signs into the All4 player. David Springall at Yospace, describes the automated process of targeted advertising: ‘the ad servers then say: “you qualify for these profile groups, what campaigns am I running? What have you previously seen? How can I optimise my campaigns?”’ In his 2006 book The Long Tail, Chris Anderson warned ‘the day when the internet becomes a real rival to the TV appears near’ (2006, p.194). That day has long since passed and yet, despite all the claims to the contrary, television is still alive and kicking. Anderson explored how the traditional economics of supply and demand have been affected by the near limitless choice afforded by the internet. From a TV point of view, his concept of ‘the Long Tail’ can be viewed in terms of the wide and expanding scope of viewer demand around new forms of digital video content. For example, as we’ve seen, there is clearly a demand to bingewatch high quality, big budget TV dramas and Netflix, Hulu and Amazon (among others) have emerged to satisfy this demand. At the other end of the scale, YouTube’s growing number of short amateur ‘how-to’ videos are the embodiment of niche broadcasting. According to Matt Brittin, CEO of Google Europe, these should be treated as quality content. He told the audience at the 2015 Edinburgh International TV Festival: ‘A YouTube video on how to unblock your toilet is quality content,’ he says, ‘It is what’s appropriate for what you’re trying to do right now’ (Brittin, 2015). According to Chris Anderson, as TV viewers access more niche content online, this has a significant impact on the traditional model of TV advertising. ‘Given greater choice’ Anderson says, ‘they (the viewers) are shifting their attention to what they value most – and that turns out not to be formulaic fare with lots of commercials’ (2006, p.166). Facebook is one of the most popular mobile destinations for people who are second screening whilst they’re watching television. As we’ve seen, news providers in the UK have been targeting Facebook users particularly since the secure streaming of videos was added as a feature of Facebook timelines in January 2014. Facebook itself, and its advertising clients, have developed addressable adverts to target individual users when they were expected to be watching TV. According to Facebook, users were twice as likely to watch


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

personalised adverts in their news feed compared with standard adverts. For example, the ‘Bufferface’ campaign for the module network EE featured Kevin Bacon and targeted people on Facebook during key moments of the TV entertainment show The Voice. Bespoke adverts were created to be delivered to specific audience segmentations at the climactic moment when the judge’s chair is about to ‘turn’ and the audience is considered to be at the peak of active engagement. In this instance, according to Facebook, users were three times more likely to click on the ad for EE. There is a new lexicon emerging for analysing the value of video advertising in social media networks. Digital media agencies talk about passing the ‘three second audition’ with ‘thumb-stopping content’. In fact some advertisers, like Geico, have even developed so-called ‘unskippable’ pre-roll adverts. They are unskippable because the brand message is out and finished in the first few seconds. ‘There is not necessarily a direct correlation to the length of content and the impact of the campaign,’ says Ed Couchman, Head of Agency Relations at Facebook (Couchman, 2015). For those advertising on Facebook they have the additional problem of entering a ‘sound-off’ world. So they have to either attempt to get their brand message across mute, on a small screen in the midst of a social news feed or somehow entice the user to enter the advert within those first crucial three seconds. The challenge of addressable advertising It is possible to get carried away with the opportunities and possibilities in this new multiscreen ecosystem. As the traditional, linear TV business model fragments, television is in danger of losing its unique selling point to advertisers: it can reach a mass audience very quickly. ‘Let’s not get deflected by all the opportunities,’ warns Richard Brooke, the Communications and Buying Manager at Unilever, ‘[TV] is a really powerful medium that reaches lots of people and has an emotional bond with those people’ (Brooke, 2015). Rupert Staines from RadiumOne adds: ‘The reality of this when it comes to TV advertising is an issue of scale. TV advertising is chiefly about driving some brand impact, some emotion to engage people into the brand. That typically requires scale of audience.’ One of the chief obstacles to the rise of addressable TV advertising is logistical: producing TV adverts is an expensive business. Creating unique personalised adverts for different sections of an audience, on different platforms and with interactive elements, will send costs spiralling further. How, then, do brands deal with the challenge of creating separate bespoke video adverts for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TV companion apps, VOD, simulcast and broadcast TV that also take into account all the different personality and audience segmentations? ‘Am I going to produce 25 different Dove ads which cost an awful lot of money?’ asks Richard Brooke to an audience of TV advertising executives. ‘No, I’m not. Because I can’t afford it’ (Brooke, 2015).

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


There are significant data protection and privacy issues too, although digital broadcasters are aware of the sensitivities here. Some broadcasters use a ‘blind-match’ system where no personal and, significantly, identifiable user information is shared with advertisers. Channel 4’s Viewer Promise says ‘We recognise that personal information is valuable and needs to be treated with care’ (Channel 4, 2016). Channel 4 says that it won’t sell personal information to anyone else and that it will anonymise all other information about a user once their All4 profile is deleted. According to the ITV Hub privacy policy: We may also display targeted advertisements based on the personal information that we hold. We do not provide your personal information to advertisers but advertisers and ad serving companies may assume that you meet the targeting criteria for that ad. (ITV, 2016) Rupert Staines believes that addressable advertising has some way to go yet. ‘Addressable is feasible and we are seeing green shoots of what’s genuinely addressable in terms of advertising on TV,’ Staines says. ‘But we are a long way from that becoming a reality across the mass market. That’s because of data reasons, because of privacy concerns and because of typical viewing behaviour on TV.’

Audience data For 35 years the system of gathering viewing figures in the UK has remained largely unchanged and unchallenged. The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) estimates the viewing patterns across all of the UK’s 26 million households. It does this by selecting a panel of private homes which, according to BARB, is ‘representative of the whole of the UK’ (BARB, 2016a). BARB monitors over a hundred different audience types but normally broadcasters and advertising agencies will only trade in about 20 types including, for example, ‘ABC1 men’ or ‘housewives’ (the main food shopper). From this BARB constructs the television rating (TVR) to measure the popularity of a programme. One TVR is equivalent to a percentage of a target audience. It’s been a simple and understandable system which has been the gold standard of TV advertising in the UK for decades. However, this standard is beginning to be questioned within the UK TV industry. BARB TVRs are only estimates of the numbers of people viewing a particular programme. Also, just because a TV is switched on, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is being watched at the time. Marc Goodchild is a former senior TV Executive at the BBC: ‘I think there is an elephant in the room here: that when we look at viewing figures we think that all these people are engaged in our shows,’ Goodchild says. ‘In fact a lot of the time they might be on the phone or they might even be asleep. But it’s not really in anyone’s interest in


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

TV to expose that’ (author interview, November 2015). On the other hand, engaging with mobile devices requires viewer activity: it’s a more personalised one-to-one experience. It is more likely, then, that a viewer is watching content (rather than being asleep, making tea, or on the phone). The traditional BARB model doesn’t take into account new audience viewing habits such as people watching Over The Top (OTT) streaming services on mobile devices or even live simulcast broadcasts via the web. It doesn’t recognise short-form video clips on mobile phones or Catch Up and Video On Demand programmes online. However, things are about to change. BARB is developing what it calls ‘Project Dovetail’, a new ‘hybrid solution’ to gathering digital audience data (BARB, 2016b). Embedded in channel players like the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 are software codes that generate ‘analytic tags’ each time a device plays video content. As a result BARB can calculate not just an estimate of how many people are viewing a programme, but exact figures of who is watching what and for how long. BARB plans to take this data, blend it with information from the traditional panels and ‘deliver robust, cross-platform measurement’. Project Dovetail is still in its trial stages, however, there is something distinctly attractive about online viewer data for advertisers because it is based on real numbers and not estimates. ‘A key difference between online and broadcast,’ says David Springall from Yospace, ‘is that in online you have actual and real time data as to what people are watching and you can make decisions on individual users.’

The value of a ‘view’ As the TV industry fragments and converges with the online world, TV advertisers have begun to lock horns with digital web-based advertisers over the value of ‘a view’. David Springall at Yospace says, ‘The concept of a content view is something that serves for the planning and effects of advertising around VOD’. According to Google/YouTube, 30 seconds is considered ‘a view’. However, this notion of ‘the view’ is a vague and slippery metric and there isn’t yet an industry consensus for recording and quantifying online video engagement. For video consumed on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram ‘a view’ is considered to be just three seconds – not 30 seconds – irrespective of how long the video content is itself. According to Glenn Enoch, SVP of Audience Insights at Nielsen, ‘Confusion of basic metrics remains a problem. A very common error is to compare digital video starts or views with TV average audience’ (Enoch, 2015). For a brand investing in video pre-roll adverts or VOD interactive adverts, the length of video content is vital. David Springall from Yospace asks: How many pre-rolls can you get away with if the user is only going to be engaging with content for an average of 30 seconds? Too many and there is the danger you’re just going to turn off the majority of your

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


users. But a minute pre-roll for an hour’s content is a totally different proposition. So views are quite important in that context. Viewability The length of time a viewer spends with online video content is not the only factor at play here. Within the industry, regulators, advertisers and broadcasters have been debating over the definition of what makes an online advert viewable. According to the Media Rating Council (MRC) in America, a video was viewable if more than ‘50% of the pixels in the advertisement were on an in-focus browser tab on the viewable space of the browser page’ (Media Rating Council, 2014) for at least one second. However, can a viewer really absorb a brand message by watching half a small screen for one second? Jon Block, VP of Product and Platform at Videology states: So much video advertising around the web is bad quality: there are auto-play videos and sometimes websites even have the player below the fold where it is not even in sight. Or maybe the sound is off. Broadcast video advertising is of such a high quality compared to everything else. Broadcast video is almost always great quality content, fully viewable with the sound on. GroupM, which describes itself as the world’s largest media investment group, has put forward a rival standard on viewability. It states that advertisers should not pay out unless the video player is 100 per cent viewable on-screen and the advert has been played by the user for at least half of its duration. John Montgomery, COO of GroupM, North America, stated: ‘Frankly, if an ad isn’t viewable, it’s worthless, and if the viewer is a machine, then it’s criminal. Either way, our clients aren’t going to pay for it’ (GroupM, 2015). GroupM goes further than this: it insists that video adverts should only be measured if they are played with audio and do not start playing automatically in the screen. It’s not enough that viewers see a video advert, they have to choose to see it. Again this is part of the growing importance of viewer agency in the consumption of content online. It gives rise to a new notion of an ‘organic view’. Here is Kat Hebden from Fremantle Media: Brands are increasingly questioning the value of a view alone, and looking much more at engagement as a key metric for defining the success of a digital strategy. View metrics can be easily manipulated whereas brands are seeing more value in getting the audience to engage with their content on some level. According to Matt Brittin at Google, ‘Over half of us in the UK watch video on our smart phones whilst we are watching the TV,’ he says, ‘so we are really in the multiscreen living room’ (Brittin, 2015). Google itself owns


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

YouTube where more than 400 hours of video content is uploaded every minute. Google says it has innovated with its model of video advertising on YouTube by giving users the opportunity to skip an advert within the first five seconds. As a result an advertiser only pays if the whole advert, or at least 30 seconds of it, has been played out. This reaffirms the importance of an organic view compared with an interruptive video advert online. In the midst of this debate around viewability there is another uneasy and unresolved question: how do we quantify interactive adverts? Is there an objective way to analyse the value of an advert when the nature of the user experience comes closer to an online game than a video? Nick Hall from Endemol comments: We need to try to find an easy way to value the time spent within an app. Lets say you spend three minutes with the brand doing something fun during an ad break. There can be a call to action off the back of that to drive people into a store – or online. We should be able to quantify that and put a value on it.

Super Bowl and the Christmas adverts There are a number of annual TV events where second screen users come together in massive numbers to create a huge buzz on social media. According to Brian Fuhrer, Senior Vice President Cross Platform Product Leader at Nielsen, ‘Big sporting events are like the Oscars and the Emmys. We have huge spikes on social media and simultaneous usage of the second screen during those types of events’ (author interview, October 2015). At the end of February 2016 the 88th Academy Awards embraced the multiscreen world with ‘The Oscars Backstage’, a special live streaming event which promised a ‘unique, second-screen experience’ sponsored by Samsung. It offered interactive users ‘exclusive access to cameras capturing live red carpet and backstage moments’ (Oscars, 2016). There were 4 channels and 20 live cameras around the star-studded event which viewers could select and watch. Four different areas were themed: Director’s Cut, Arrivals, Fashion and Red Carpet. The Oscars also teamed up with Facebook to run ‘The Official Oscars Challenge’ as a play-along quiz. Why did the Oscars experiment with the second screen in such a big way in 2016? One reason was that it wanted to spark a buzz on social media. Just the year before, in 2015, the Grammys had pulled ahead of the Oscars both in terms of TV audience and the number of tweets posted during the show. According to Nielsen social TV analytics there were 5,923,000 tweets sent during the Oscars in 2015 compared with more than 13,432,000 for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards (Nielsen, 2015a). Elsewhere on this list of top US TV tweets you will find AMC’s The Walking Dead, the Golden Globe Awards, the American Music Awards and Pay-Per-View World Heavy Weight Boxing bouts. However, there is one

Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’


standout event that dominates the US TV schedules each year: the Super Bowl. In 2015 Super Bowl XLIX had a TV audience of more than 16 million people and Nielsen records that over 25 million tweets were posted during the game. For advertisers this was a perfect opportunity to gain what is becoming known as ‘retweetable traction’. It is a dream situation for marketeers: adverts create brand awareness which are then spread organically by social engagement. Interactive content fuels brand ‘consideration’ which in turn leads consumers down the sales funnel (sometimes driven by a call to action) towards preference and purchase. In 2014 the audio recognition app Shazam introduced a new Timeline feature for the Super Bowl which enabled viewers to automatically identify elements from the programme, whether it was the half time show featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or the interactive televised ads. According to Shazam: ‘all of the ads aired during the Super Bowl were recognized by Shazam – making it easy for viewers to watch again in the moment, today or anytime and share their favourites on social media’ (Shazam, 2014b). One advert stands out from the event: the Jaguar ‘British Villains’ campaign. The car company created a cinematic advert with Sir Ben Kingsley which was intended to provoke discussion on social media. The advert opens with the question: ‘Have you ever noticed how, in Hollywood movies, all the villains are played by Brits?’ The company embarked on what it called ‘adaptive marketing’ which involved monitoring all the social platforms including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for comments relevant to the brand and then responding in real time. According to Jaguar there was a 350 per cent increase in unique visitors to the Jaguar US website (Jaguar, 2014). In the UK there isn’t a comparable event that approaches the Super Bowl in terms of social engagement on a mass scale. However, there are big events around which broadcasters and advertisers have innovated with second screen engagement. At the 2016 BAFTA award ceremony the headline sponsor EE used the event to launched its new 4GEE capture cam. To do this it embedded a tiny camera inside the award for the Best Rising Star. When Star Wars actor John Bodega collected the trophy, second screen viewers at home could see everything from the perspective of the BAFTA golden mask itself. The hype that surrounds the Christmas TV ad campaigns is a touchstone for where the industry is in terms of ambition and innovation. In 2014 Marks and Spencer dramatically increased its seasonal campaign spend on social media engagement as increasing numbers of people turned online to do their Christmas shopping. The M&S TV advert featured two fairies who were then given their own Twitter account (without the M&S branding). Under the hashtag #followthefairies the two sprites – Magic and Sparkle – carried out acts of kindness inspired by stories on social media: creating real snow outside a primary school for example. It took online brand engagement and interactivity to a new level. In the same way that factual TV programmes


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

have been able to use online platforms to host audience engagement with partner organisations, so commercial brands have been able to apply the same principle. In 2015 the supermarket Sainsbury’s created an advert called ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ in which a CGI cat wreaks havoc on a family home before Christmas. Sainsbury’s teamed up with the charity Save the Children with an online and social campaign to promote child literacy around the world. In the same year John Lewis developed a partnership with the charity Age UK and created an advert called ‘Man on the Moon’ in which a young girl called Lily discovers, through her telescope, an old man living on the moon. According to Craig Inglis, Customer Director at John Lewis, the hope was that the advert ‘raises awareness of the issue of loneliness amongst older people and encourages others to support in any way they can’ (John Lewis, 2015). There were also ‘Man On Moon’ online lesson plans for schools and the retailer even created a mobile app to accompany the TV advert: users had to point their phone at the moon to unlock additional information and content. The app itself featured play-along games in which users had to overcome obstacles in a race to the moon. It was reported that, just three hours after the advert was released online, there were already nearly 40,000 mentions of #manonthemoon on Twitter (Oakes, 2015). For a number of years there has been a debate over the effectiveness and efficiency of TV advertising compared with online marketing. A successful second screen campaign combines the strengths of both: the interactive and social potential of online advertising with the reach and impact of TV. However, the ecosystem is evolving further. Digital agencies are getting better at capturing and analysing audience information across many screens. The way in which viewers are interacting with each other on social platforms is slowly revealing new patterns of behaviour and data sets based on passions, motivations and online engagement.

Bibliography Anderson, C. (2006) The Long Tail. How Endless Choice Is Creating Unlimited Demand. London: Random House. Aron, J. (2014) TV Ads that know you. New Scientist, 6 September. BARB (2016a) How We Do What We Do. Available at: how-we-do-what-we-do/ BARB (2016b) Project Dovetail. Available at: Blakeman, R. (2014) Nontraditional Media in Marketing and Advertising. USA: Sage. Brittin, M. (2015) Digital Keynote: Google. Edinburgh International Television Festival 2015. Available at: Brooke, R. (2015) Panel: The Buyers’ Debate. Future of TV Advertising Forum. London 2–3 December. Channel 4 (2016) Viewer Promise. Available at: viewer-promise

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Couchman, E. (2015) Making Facebook A Better Video Advertising And Content Distribution Partner. Future of TV Advertising Forum. London 2–3 December. Davies, P. (2015) Channel 4 launches personalised and dynamic ad replacement with Yospace. Available at: channel-4-launches-personalised-and-dynamic-ad-replacement-with-yospace. html Enoch, G. (2015) Nielsen: The Total Audience Report Q1. 2015. Available at: Gilbreath, B. (2010) The Next Evolution of Marketing. USA: McGraw Hill. Google (2014) The Importance of Being Seen: Viewability Insights for Digital Marketers and Publishers Study. November 2014. Google (2015) Evolution of TV: Reaching Audiences Across Screens. Think with Google report. Available at: GroupM (2015) GroupM Sees Results After Controversial Viewability Stance. Available at: ITV (2016) Privacy Policy for ITV Services. Available at: privacy/#_do-you-share-my-information ITV plc. (2014) McDonalds & Rimmel: Research Case Study. Available at: www. Jaguar (2014) Interactive Jaguar: First Ever Jaguar Super Bowl commercial launches F Type Coupe. 3 February. Available at: John Lewis (2015) John Lewis Christmas Advertising Campaign Launches. Press release. Friday 6 November. Available at: media/press/y2015/press-release-6-november-2015-john-lewis-christmasadvertising-campaign-launches.html Lewis, J. (2015) The Value of Programmatic Trading With First-Party Broadcaster Data. Future of TV Advertising Forum. London 2–3 December. Lovell, N. (2013) The Curve: Turning Followers into Superfans. London: Penguin. Martin, C. (2011) The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Media Rating Council (2014) MRC Viewable Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines. Prepared in collaboration with IAB Emerging Innovations Task Force. Version 1.0 (Final) – 30 June. Mendonca, N. (2015) Panel: The Buyers’ Debate. Future of TV Advertising Forum. London 2–3 December. Nielsen (2015a) Nielsen Social Measures Tweets in the U.S. Top Ten Specials on Twitter. 1 September 2014–24 May 2015. Nielsen (2015b) The Total Audience Report Q1. Available at: content/dam/corporate/us/en/reports-downloads/2015-reports/total-audiencereport-q1-2015.pdf Oakes, O. (2015) John Lewis Christmas ad: social media reaction. Campaign Magazine. 6 November. Available at: john-lewis-christmas-ad-social-media-reaction/1371673 Oscars (2016) The Oscars Backstage is Coming! Available at:


Advertising: ‘Disruption is at a maximum!’

Scola, N. (2014) Democrats, Republicans go after data-driven TV ads that know – like, really know – voters. The Washington Post. Available at: www. Shazam (2014a) Absolut, Gillette and Jaguar Increase Television Ad Recall & Likeability with Shazamable ads. Online press release. Available at: http://news. Shazam (2014b) Shazamable Super Bowl Broadcast Drives Engagement. February 3rd 2015. Available at: Sky (2015) About Sky AdSmart. Available at: about-skyadsmart/ Sky Media (2015) Sky AdSmart case study: Virgin Trains. Available at: www. Smith, A. (2012) The Rise of the ‘Connected Viewer’ The Pew Research Center Internet American Life Project. Available at: the-rise-of-the-connected-viewer/


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Predicting the future, in any part of social life, is a precarious pastime. Within the fast changing arena of the media industry, a world so dependent on technical innovation, future casting may be simply foolhardy. Who knows what new interactive communication device may be launched within the next decade which may turn the entertainment business on its head? However, perhaps there is a value in examining the present-day patterns of audience behaviour and industry priorities with a view to extrapolating future trends. At the very least it may reveal something about our present situation. As Levinson (2011) states, ‘fathoming the future inevitably provides a great snapshot of the state of society at the time the predictions are made’ (p.15). It’s not so long ago that broadcasters and television manufacturers were investing in and heralding the arrival of 3D television. It is also significant that much of the language that had been used around the benefits of 3D TV have also been deployed for interactive second screen TV too. For example, 3D TV had been described as the future of immersive viewing. The BBC launched a two-year experiment into 3D TV in 2011 and during this time Wimbledon, Strictly Come Dancing, the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, Doctor Who and even the Queen’s Speech were broadcast in 3D. However, the BBC put the project on an ‘indefinite pause’ in July 2013. Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC’s head of 3D TV, said she had ‘never seen a very big appetite for 3D television in the UK’. Whilst the technology had worked in the cinema, the living room, with all its attendant distractions, had proved a different matter: ‘I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way,’ said Shillinglaw. ‘When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing – I think that’s one of the reasons that take up of 3D TV has been disappointing’ (BBC, 2013). In October 2015 the BBC published its submission to the government’s consultation over the BBC Charter Renewal. The document, entitled British Bold Creative (BBC, 2015) mentions the notion of 3D only once and that is in the context of 3D printing in schools. So could the second screen go the way of 3D TV? Is it just a fad or is there a more enduring appeal here?


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In November 2014, whilst speaking to an audience in Mexico City, the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, compared linear TV to an outdated system of transportation. ‘It’s kind of like the horse’ he said, ‘the horse was good until we had the car. The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030’ (cited in Hecht, 2014). The premonition of the demise of TV has divided opinion within media circles: some have called it a bold statement. Others, like Lindsey Clay, CEO of Thinkbox, are cautious. She said ‘I think we do have to be slightly cynical about people who profoundly wish that to be the case’ (Clay, 2014, p.32). Most of the industry figures I interviewed for this book were reluctant to make detailed predictions about the future of media in the UK. However, the majority were confident about the enduring appeal of television itself in one form or another. Beyond this, most agreed that this is a pivotal moment for the TV industry in terms of the opportunities afforded by multi-screen platforms and the desires of viewers themselves. Brian McHarg from Chunk Media sums it up: ‘The TV industry as a whole is being massively disrupted and everyone is exploring those differing models and what direction they can take. There are so many differing routes’ (author interview, October 2015). In recent years most of the technical progress around television has been focused on making the set itself bigger, thinner, curved with 4K and UltraHD resolution. However, outside these technical enhancements there have been some innovations. One division in Disney Research has been developing a 3D tactile feature for screens. This would give the user the impression they could ‘feel’ objects within their device. Apply this process to second screen activity and it might mean that users could somehow use their mobile device to ‘feel’ the television. It’s an interesting thought, but still in the very earliest stages of development. In the short term, wearable technology is a more advanced route the industry could take. The Apple Watch, for example, was released in April 2015 and billed as the most personal product Apple has ever made. However, it’s still too soon to know how popular it might become and what impact this might have on interactive potential. Certainly the opportunity is there for smart watches to become a second or even third screen. Already some second screen mobile apps, like the 2016 Six Nations Rugby app, have been reconstituted to run on watches.

360 video and VR The emergence of 360-degree videos and virtual reality experiences is one other route the broadcast industry seems to be moving down. We have seen how TV news providers, like the BBC, are starting to offer 360 videos as part of their enhanced content online and via the news apps. Other media organisations are taking this a stage further by experimenting in Virtual Reality (VR) experiences. In the autumn of 2015 the New York Times launched a new virtual reality app which turns a smart phone into a VR player. Together with a headset, like Google cardboard, it can offer a 360

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immersive experience to viewers. By the spring of 2016 the New York Times had produced a number of VR documentary videos including a ‘Walking Tour of New York’ and a film titled ‘The Displaced’ which gave users an immersive journey into the lives of three refugee children from Syria, the Ukraine and Sudan. In one scene of the film, VR users find themselves in a field full of people waiting for an air drop of aid. As a plane sounds overhead, the user can join all the others by looking up and searching the sky for the plane. This was the New York Times’ first foray into virtual reality storytelling which, it says, ‘has the potential to transform journalism’ (Silverstein, 2015). The New York Times compares the transformative potential in VR technology to the moment in 1896 when the first ever photographs appeared in the newspaper. However, the Forbes investment house has a warning over virtual reality technology: ‘The high cost of technology and related infrastructure is among the factors that have limited VR usage’ it says, ‘along with other issues such as inconvenience caused by unwieldy headsets and “simulation sickness”’ (Forbes, 2015). Virtual reality is not a new technology but it has remained in the realm of computer games for a number of years. At the start of 2016 the new Oculus Rift VR headset was showcased in Las Vegas ahead of its launch planned for later in the year. Facebook acquired the Oculus company in 2014 when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commented ‘the incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives’ (Zuckerberg, 2014). Oculus is being marketed as a VR gaming tool but such VR sets could have significant applications in TV and film. We’ve seen the second screen turn into a platform for gamification and interaction during TV shows, with this new technology the convergence of TV and gaming may be complete. Zuckerberg states: ‘after games we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court-side seat at a game’ (Zuckerberg, 2014). There are applications beyond sports broadcasting too. What about drama? Could viewers find themselves inside the Oval Office with Frank Underwood in House of Cards, or inside the tardis with Doctor Who? Science fiction writers, of course, have been imagining the possibilities of virtual reality for years. In her landmark book, Hamlet on the Holodeck, Janet Murray imagines the technology would tap into some innate human desires: The experience of being transported to an elaborately simulated place is pleasurable in itself, regardless of the fantasy content. We refer to this experience as immersion. Immersion is a metaphorical term derived from the physical experience of being submerged in water. (1997, p.98) What has started as a potential second screen activity – watching 360 videos on your phone during a TV programme – appears to be evolving to a new


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form of media consumption that will become wholly independent from television. The BBC’s Natural History department has produced 360 videos as part of its enhanced content online. The executive producer Tim Scoones can see the potential within virtual reality: I think there are some quite exciting VR applications around natural history. The cool thing is to be immersed in nature: whether it is watching a blue tit or sitting next to a tiger. It’s an utterly immersive experience with sound and you can look around you. Until now we’ve had to put that in a little box in the corner of people’s living rooms and try to use art and craft to recreate that experience. But how about I get the TV and I stick it over your head? Now you are sitting next to a tiger: how does that feel? I think that has amazing potential. But this is very particular to natural history and certain types of storytelling or experience making. It’s not going to be everywhere. (Author interview, September 2015) For Tim Scoones, the technology could also benefit viewers who have restricted mobility and haven’t been able to get outside to experience the natural world as much as they would like: We get a lot of communication to the Springwatch office from people who say essentially: ‘I have become disabled or I’m too old to be out there. I have spent my life immersed in nature because I love it. I was missing it. It has been a great loss to my life but you’ve brought it back. You’ve reconnected it with me.’ Now if I could give every single one of those people a VR headset and a service that went with it, that would be amazing. That’s public service par excellence. Children’s shows For many children, mobile phones and tablet computers have become popular devices for playing games. Beyond this tablets are being used in school classrooms as a tool to engage children in literacy schemes (Israelson, 2015). Mobile platforms, then, are increasingly becoming a more permanent fixture in the lives of children: both in learning environments and at play. This is something that second screen activity has been able to link in to. Children’s TV has always been at the heart of interactive experimentation ever since the early days of Winky Dink and You in the 1950s. If interactivity provides a counterweight to passive ‘lean back’ viewing then this also has benefits for educational children’s programmes. As Fisch argues: Enhanced television holds the potential to extend the impact of educational television programs by coupling them with simultaneous data streams … in the future, these data streams could carry supplemental

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information for further learning, or interactive games and activities in which viewers can engage. (Fisch, 2004, p.195) Marc Goodchild was the producer of the children’s interactive game Sub Zero in the 1990s. Recently he helped create a companion app play-along game for the BBC children’s quiz show Gory Games (CBBC, 2011–). According to Goodchild, the young viewers were already experienced in using the mobile devices and knew intuitively what to do and how to play along: ‘Children get it straightaway. There are no issues of “why would I want to do that?” What they want more than anything is to have a greater connection with their TV shows’ (author interview, November 2015). The Gory Games app uses audio watermarking technology so it can detect when the programme is being broadcast. The production team has now gone back to repurpose past Gory Games episodes so that they can also become play-along shows. To do this the team has had to consider ‘user delay’ and build more time into the show for the interactive elements. According to Goodchild: We should not overload them. We need to give them signposts and we need to build in the time. There is more processing for children to do. But we found that when we added extra time to the show it didn’t make the show worse for the passive viewer, it actually made the show better. Ultimately with quiz shows you’re playing along at home in your head anyway so having a bit more time to think didn’t damage it at all.

The cost of second screen Just as BBC Children’s programming is adopting more second screen companion experiences, the rest of the corporation appears to be moving in the other direction. The principles of public service broadcasting were some of the driving forces behind the BBC taking a leading role innovating in interactive and second screen technology after 2008. It was part of its remit to ‘build digital Britain’. However, ironically, the values of public service broadcasting are also one of the reasons why the BBC has moved away from a significant number of companion screen projects in recent years. There was a period when the BBC was embracing second screen companion apps. It had created a Springwatch app for an internal experiment and it released a play-along Antiques Roadshow app to general acclaim. However, since then the BBC appears to have concluded that, in general, companion apps don’t have broad universal appeal, they are a distraction to the TV and they are too expensive. Sarah Clay, a commissioning editor at the BBC, states: We’re passionate about that space but it is really hard to get an audience and it’s a small audience. So you do have to do it few and far between and we are at a stage where we are looking and thinking: ‘do we want


The future for social participation in TV to be in this space?’ It’s just very difficult to get it right. Even on The Voice if you’ve got 8 million people watching the show, 200,000 people playing along is quite a small audience, probably one per cent of the actual TV audience. So it’s really tough. You can really only do it in entertainment. Drama is almost impossible. (Author interview, July 2015)

Brian Fuhrer, the National and Cross-platform Product Leader for Nielsen, agrees that companion apps don’t have a wide mass appeal: I know people are continuing to develop those types of apps. I won’t say that they have failed at all, but they do remain very much a niche. I think people are still trying to crack the code. The issue is that companion apps are so specific that they generally appeal to a more narrow group: only the most zealous and dedicated viewers of a programme will be interacting with that. (Author interview, October 2015) The cost of creating and maintaining companion apps is also a big issue for the BBC, particularly at a time of Charter Renewal when every pound the BBC spends is under public scrutiny. Jerry Kramskoy worked within the BBC R&D department on developing the apps. He says: The things that will constrain how much of an impact companion screens make will be down to the cost of creating the experiences. If there are not enough tools available to make this a simple process then it’ll become more expensive. (Author interview, September 2015) The high cost of second screen engagement has been an issue for other broadcasters too. Marie James, digital content producer at Channel 4 says: Second screen is interesting but it is an additional cost on top of a programme, it’s not the core of it. At Channel 4, which is a revenue making organisation, we make every penny that we spend. Doing things that don’t bring revenue can be seen as a nice add-on or can help fulfil the remit, or give people more information. This is why it’s good for factual. But just doing it for the fun of it? Everyone everywhere is tightening their belts at the moment. (Author interview, August 2015) The digital agencies are aware of the problem of cost so a considerable amount of effort is going into making companion experiences more affordable. However, as Tom McDonnell from Monterosa explains, they should not be used as a crutch to a failing TV format:

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We are trying to make it a bit cheaper and a bit easier to do. That is the focus of the innovation: the actual ideas themselves. It’s not about the interaction, it’s about the show and the human stories that they are telling. It’s sometimes a mistake to think that the interactivity is the thing that makes the format because it’s not. The objective is to make the technology more accessible by the creatives. (Author interview, June 2015) Industry structures Second screen activity lies at the intersection of television and the mobile internet. This unique position has been the source of its success as it can be flexible enough to draw upon the strengths of both platforms. However, this position is also a weakness that has limited its growth to date and could stifle its development in the future. Second screen interactive projects don’t sit comfortably within the pre-existing structures of television, TV advertising and broadcast regulation. It has fallen between the gaps of linear TV, VOD and streaming services. As Brian McHarg from Chunk Media states, ‘Second screen behaviour just doesn’t easily fit in a tablet viewing world or an On Demand world or a time shifted world’ (author interview, October 2015). Marc Goodchild has been at the heart of second screen development both within the BBC and in the independent sector. He has had to break down embedded industry structures as well as individual negative mindsets to develop his second screen projects. According to Goodchild: When you are still playing with the format (that’s what we’re doing), that cuts across a lot of formats. You’ve got an issue with budgets and the second thing is trying to work out who’s got the political might and will to push it through … Normally it sits halfway between the TV division and the technology and digital division. It doesn’t fit into any existing TV industry commissioning models. It doesn’t quite fit their web commissioning service and no one wants to find extra money for this on the TV side. There are some people who just don’t see it. There’s another camp who think it’s just too much like hard work. My career has always been doing the cutting edge stuff, and cutting edge is painful. You think the second time you do it that it’s going to be a shoe-in. But actually you go through the same pain again. BBC Charter Renewal By 2016, The Voice was the only high profile BBC programme in the UK which had a dedicated and synchronised companion app as a second screen experience. Yet, The Voice itself became the centre of renewed controversy after it was singled out in the government’s Green Paper on BBC Charter Renewal. The Green Paper stated:


The future for social participation in TV The BBC acquired the format for The Voice. This was a singing talent show developed overseas, bought by the BBC at a reported cost of around £20 million and similar to ITV’s X Factor. (DCMS, 2015, p.39)

At the Edinburgh TV festival in August 2015 the Secretary of State for Culture, John Whittingdale, said: The Voice has been very popular, but the fact is it was contested between the BBC and ITV, the result was to force up the money paid for it. (Whittingdale, 2015) In 2015 the government opened up a consultation around BBC Charter renewal and invited submissions from other interested parties. What emerged was a standoff between the BBC and its commercial rivals. ITV argued that it was unfair it has to compete with the BBC when it comes to buying in entertainment shows. In ITV’s written submission to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee it stated that it wants the BBC to be banned from such activity: The BBC should not be permitted to acquire content that is already made (or a format that already exists in another territory) where another commercial rival is prepared to purchase that content or format. In other words, the BBC should be the buyer of last resort for pre-existing content or formats in the UK market. (ITV plc, 2015) The BBC Director General Tony Hall defended The Voice, telling MPs that it was a programme produced ‘in a particularly BBC way’ (cited in Plunkett, 2015). Yet, this defensive action wasn’t enough to save the programme. In November 2015 it was announced that The Voice would be going over to ITV from 2017. The BBC’s Acting Director of Television Mark Linsey said at the time: We always said we wouldn’t get into a bidding war or pay inflated prices to keep the show, and it’s testament to how the BBC has built the programme up – and established it into a mainstay of the Saturday night schedule – that another broadcaster has poached it. (cited in Methven, 2015) This outcome for one of the BBC’s most popular entertainment shows will have an impact on the balance of second screen services in the UK. Interactive companion experiences around entertainment shows are likely to become an area exclusively dominated by commercial broadcasters who are better positioned to absorb the cost of the technology by embedding commercial partnerships into the interactive experience.

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Regulation As second screen is at the vanguard of TV convergence online it also finds itself in a grey area when it comes to regulation. When Lord Justice Leveson published his report into the standards and ethics of the UK press following the phone hacking inquiry he spent very little time discussing the regulation of online content. He did state: ‘the internet does not claim to operate by any particular ethical standards, still less high ones. Some have called it a “wild west” but I would prefer to use the term “ethical vacuum”’ (Leveson Inquiry, 2012, p.736). Whilst linear broadcast TV is regulated by Ofcom, the second screen exists inside Leveson’s ethical vacuum along with other online converged media content. Following the Leveson report, the House of Lords Select Committee on Communication heard evidence on the regulation around media convergence because the committee decided that ‘new technologies and behaviours are evolving more quickly than regulatory protections’ (HOL Select Committee on Communications, 2013, p.8). Some industry figures who gave evidence argued for a root and branch reform of online regulation whilst others advocated a ‘wait and see’ approach. In 2014 the broadcasting regulator Ofcom published a report into the impact of second screen activity in the UK. It stated: Until recently, TV was a relatively well-defined world of broadcasters and a few platforms, all regulated under the Communications Act 2003. Second screen is just one of a number of developments which have served to complicate and destabilise these regulations. (Ofcom/Technologia, 2014, p.85) With regard to advertising on the second screen the Ofcom report says there is some regulation under the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code but states that both product placement and political advertising are not regulated (unlike linear TV). The study also examines editorial content around the themes of sponsorship, harmful material (protection of under 18s) and impartiality and concludes that in each of these cases there is ‘no regulation’ on the second screen. The report concludes that ‘Consumer harm could arise where content which might reasonably be assumed to be regulated under heavier regulations is able to circumvent such regulations by virtue of being served on a second screen’ (Ofcom/Technologia, 2014, p.89). It has been difficult for successive UK governments to regulate online content due to the global nature of the media industries. The House of Lords Committee concluded: ‘convergence brings three key challenges too: potential erosion of trust and confidence in the content we consume; challenges to the future of public service content; and outmoded regulation, which is slow to adapt to changing markets and audience expectations’ (HOL Select Committee on Communications, 2013, p.5). As a result, then, a form of post-Leveson online regulation is still on the ‘to do’ list of


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government and whatever decisions are made here will impact on how the second screen evolves within the next decade. The question of regulation is relevant across the TV genres, but these considerations around editorial content are particularly focused on news and current affairs programmes. As Ursula Smartt observes: ‘the impact of new media in general and the internet in particular, continues to dominate the thoughts of those involved in the regulation of online-audio-visual material’ (2014, p.528). In theory, the current lack of regulation around the second screen means that a commercial brand or a political party could sponsor mobile news content and there is no duty for journalists to be impartial on social media sites. Most established broadcast news providers in the UK, however, have adopted a system of self-regulation in this area to protect their reputation and the quality of their journalism. According to Ed Fraser, Managing Editor of Channel 4 News: ‘We don’t just look at Social Media and digital as the Wild West. We still have an obligation to be impartial and stick to the facts. We still comply what goes out online to a very high editorial standard’ (author interview, January 2016).

The future direction of ‘social’ How the BBC positions itself around second screen engagement will depend largely on the long-term outcome of the 2016 Charter Renewal deal. The BBC may be moving away from synchronised companion apps, but that doesn’t mean it is abandoning the concept of the second screen altogether. Instead, as we have seen, it is putting greater emphasis on social engagement, developing external partnerships and encouraging users to generate content. In this way it is using the second screen to make BBC services more personal. In 2014, the Head of Social Media for the BBC, Alistair Morgan, told the Westminster Media Forum: ‘We want to create content which makes you give us something back, not just your opinions, but your user generated content’ (Morgan, 2014, p.13). However, there is a dilemma here for the BBC: it wants to reach younger people by linking to social platforms but, beyond Facebook and Twitter, where should the BBC focus its efforts when funding is stretched? ‘It’s changing all the time’, says Morgan. ‘Look at how popular Snapchat is becoming, and how popular Instagram might become, and that gives you an idea of placing a bet where we are now, and where we may be in the future’ (Morgan, 2014, p.12). Tim Scoones, executive producer in the BBC Natural History department, shares some of these concerns around the uncertainty of ‘placing a bet’ on a particular social or interactive platform: The earth keeps shifting underneath us and for us to bank on one thing you are going to get left behind. You’ve got to keep looking at it from a very very big picture level which means how I am relating to an audience. Now an audience is more organised and more powerful and more vocal. I need to understand that changing relationship and respond in an

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appropriate way looking around at the pervasive tools that have been accepted and are available to us at the time. (Author interview, September 2015) In March 2015 the BBC launched proposals for a new initiative called MyBBC. The BBC executive in charge, Phil Fearnley, said ‘You’ll be able to create a BBC experience that you control, recognises you as an individual, and brings you the best of our content based on what we know you’ll love’ (Fearnley, 2015). The announcement came with a commitment to develop a new personalised MyBBC app by the autumn of 2015. In the BBC’s submission to the government consultation it says: ‘Our relationship with the British public must be accountable, interactive and creative.’ This would involve ‘asking audiences to share, curate and test new content and products to using MyBBC data to improve audience experiences and the personalisation of services’ (BBC, 2015, p.94). The word ‘curate’ is significant here and has led to suggestions that BBC audiences will be able to effectively construct their own channel online. Eventually the BBC launched its new BBC+ app in July 2016 as a personalised hub designed to bring together iPlayer programmes with other digital content including tailored news feeds, local weather forecasts and recipes. However, this is not a dedicated second screen app, instead it is intended to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all BBC content on mobile platforms. Layering social data We have seen in the previous chapter how developing first-party audience data, from broadcaster platforms like All4 and the ITV Hub, has been central in enabling personalised programme recommendations and targeted adverts. The science behind audience analytics is changing rapidly and the most recent innovations have involved examining audience behaviour on social networks with the view to mine and extract usable audience data. At present advertisers rely on the number of Twitter followers and the number of tweets per minute when they are analysing the impact of a marketing campaign on social platforms. The American market insights company Nielsen launched its Twitter TV ratings in October 2013 where it studies media audiences across 100 countries around the world. Brain Fuhrer, an SVP at Nielsen, says: The Nielsen Twitter TV ratings are about understanding the relationship between television audiences and Twitter activity. It’s understanding the correlation between: do tweets drive television or does television drive tweets? Then, what is the value of this to advertisers? So that’s just one off shoot to the main business but we have done a lot of work with Twitter in that regard. (Author interview, October 2015)


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Beyond this, in 2015 Nielsen conducted a neurological experiment to investigate whether peaks in Twitter activity around a TV programme also corresponded to general audience engagement with the show (even amongst viewers not second screening on social networks). Nielsen concluded ‘that changes in Twitter TV activity are strongly correlated (79.5%) with neurological engagement. More specifically, the study identified emotion, memory and attention as the specific neurometrics tied to Twitter TV activity’ (Nielsen, 2015). For advertisers the findings suggested that an advert placed during a more ‘social programme’ was more likely to be remembered and would then have more impact. One Canadian company, Affinio, has developed an algorithm to categorise social users into tribes based on their expressed sentiments and affinities. The algorithm examines the language people use in tweets, their connections, passions and frustrations as expressed on Twitter. John Gleeson is the Vice President for Business Development at Affinio: It means understanding how every single individual in the audience connects together, the relationships that we choose to have: the relationships with friends, family and coworkers. It’s the brands that we love, the news sources that we trust, the blogs that we read, influencers, celebrities: all of these things paint a really good picture of who’s in an audience and when you aggregate all of that what you start to find is that groups of similar people group together around the same passions. (Author interview, August 2015) The BBC commissioned Affinio to do such an analysis into the international viewers of Doctor Who. According to Gleeson: You really have a diverse array of people who are into this show. You’ve got the casual fan: their connections might look like someone who follows several news sources and a couple of celebrities. At the other end of the spectrum you have the superfans. One tribe that we see again and again is the WWE wrestling tribe. That’s something that shows up in the Doctor Who audience. It’s something that you wouldn’t expect to find. This doesn’t just apply to social TV engagement. Popstars have used the process to study how their fanbase is evolving and that might determine how they market their next album. For TV advertisers it could have similar uses, says Gleeson: ‘We see a mass of applications around branded content, TV upfronts, product placement and other similar things. It’s perfect for that. It is still early stages but we are excited by it.’ In 2015, the market analytics company Kantar Media developed an ‘affinity index’ to examine possible commercial applications to the Twitter activity around the hit show The Only Way Is Essex (ITV, 2014–). It concluded that active TOWIE viewers displayed the great affinity with

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particular product categories including: clothing and accessories, food, media, entertainment and retail. The analysis could even dig down to the level of brand names. Within the clothing categories, fans were most likely to tweet about Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Adidas and Nike (Kantar, 2015). Extracting usable data from social streams is a complicated process. Nielsen is also partnering with Facebook to utilise their database to identify audience demographics against TV programmes. According to Brian Fuhrer: It’s happening very quickly. But it’s very complicated because there are many different ways that content is being delivered and there are many advertising systems that are accompanying the programming, the only way it works is to aggregate the base data with all of those pieces of the puzzle which need to come together, by calibrating census type data with high quality, representative panels. Others in the industry are more sceptical about the value of social data. Matt Millar is the CEO of the digital agency Tellybug, the company which developed The X Factor app. He says, Audience data is one of those lovely things that is very good to talk about, I’ve not met a single person in the TV industry who has a clue what to do with it. It is literally crude oil. If someone were to deliver you a bucket of this stuff you really wouldn’t want it. It’s theoretically lovely but nobody knows how to action it. (Author interview, September 2015) David Springall, the CTO of the advertising agency Yospace, agrees that layering social analytics into TV metrics will happen but suggests that the advertising industry doesn’t have the capacity to make the most of this: I think this will be an inevitability. But the pool of creatives, the pool of advertisers that are in the online world are not sufficient to create the hyper-targeting this could lead to. But better tracking and a better ability to measure a campaign response, is an invaluable tool for the media buying ecosystem and this is where the data is going to be used first. (Author interview, December 2015) The essential three elements The future of second screen engagement depends on three key groups: the broadcasters, the advertisers and the users themselves. Together, they had a vital role in developing interactive TV experiences on mobile platforms in that crucial decade from 2006. Moving forward, all three groups need to generate a shared vision for how the second screen develops further.


The future for social participation in TV

TV companion apps have been an important growth area for commercial broadcasters like ITV. They’ve been particularly successful around entertainment and sports programmes, in terms of driving social engagement, audience involvement and commercial partnerships. Looking ahead, Channel 4 has been busy experimenting with new formats in an attempt to develop a show that is as strong on genuine audience participation as Million Pound Drop. For Channel 5, Big Brother remains a format which is ripe for reinvention with new interactive experiences. It’s also likely that ITV will look to further increase its already expanding suite of interactive experiences beyond The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, I’m A Celebrity, Love Island and its new acquisition in 2016: The Voice. Creative partnerships with advertisers will be vital to fund this growth. Tech-savy young viewers have proved to be resistant to traditional, intrusive TV advertising. As a result, the interactive brand games and sponsored app content has provided a way for advertisers to connect with this elusive group of consumers. The adverts need to be engaging, personalised and embedded in the content itself. As Marc Goodchild states, this will require a reorganisation in the relationship between advertising sales teams and TV producers: Within most broadcasters the people who secure the advertising spots around a show have nothing to do with the editorial teams. For it to work you need a triumvirate: the producer wanting to do it, the commissioners wanting to do it and the advertisers who can tie it all together. That’s a lot harder than just selling ad space. Rupert Staines at the RadiumOne marketing agency is optimistic about the evolving role of the second screen: Between TV and the small screen I think you’ll see an ever converging platform that will be utterly interactive and they’ll communicate with each other. So wherever you are watching content, whatever content that is, brands will be able to message you and connect with you in a – hopefully – meaningful way and a less disruptive and interruptive way. Second screen interaction works best when it taps into the desires and motivations of TV viewers themselves. The most successful multiscreen experiences have stemmed from organic viewer activity in the first place. Even constructed companion apps like The X Factor evolved, in part, as a response to the online social engagement of viewers. The second screen can pull users back to live TV by uniting these two worlds of media entertainment: online interactivity and linear television. Much will depend on the future viewing habits of the Millenial and post-Millenial generations. These groups watch fewer hours of linear television than any other. Yet it’s still not certain that this trend will continue. They may yet return to television. Jane Rumble, Head of Media Research and Market Intelligence at Ofcom, says:

The future for social participation in TV


Life stage plays a big part in the amount of time we spend watching TV. As you get older, settle down, have children or buy a house then you have more time to spend at home and your TV viewing tends to increase. The question that everyone is asking themselves is: as those 16 to 24 year olds become older and go through those life stages, are people going to come back to television? (Author interview, September 2015) Even if broadcast television viewing figures stabilise in the medium term, there is no sign that viewer engagement with VOD and TV streaming services is going to anything but rise. For many people their smart phones and tablets are their first port of call for media consumption: to them mobile platforms are the first screen. As Marc Goodchild suggests: ‘Potentially nothing will be scheduled TV anymore. Instead everything could be consumed on that small device.’ So what impact would this have for dual screen interactivity? All the UK broadcasters have developed mobile digital players which are becoming more personalised. Taken together, the BBC iPlayer, BBC+, the ITV Hub, All4, My5 and Sky Go are all platforms which enhance viewer agency by giving people the power of choice over what they watch as well as where and when they watch it. But could we include the word how into this list too? Could these digital players also become platforms which enable viewers to select how they consume a programme? As Brian McHarg from Chunk Media suggests, ‘What would it mean to bring interaction into apps like iPlayer and building those out like interactive platforms rather that just On Demand and video platforms? That would be an interesting space’. In this way viewer interactivity could become a service embedded into an upgraded mobile video player: including enhanced TV, social engagement and two-way participation. The second screen came into being both by design and by evolution. It will move into the future along the same paths: technical innovation and organic change. As a marriage of convenience between two screens, it has suffered a turbulent decade since its inception. But it has endured and adapted to the forces of user habits and difficult economic realities. Significant challenges remain to be overcome. However, large reservoirs of potential opportunities remain untapped within this union of screens. TV viewers now expect genuine two-way interaction. This is a genie that, once released, can’t easily be put back into its bottle. So whatever the future holds for television viewing, it will involve mobile and social engagement and be designed to encourage genuine viewer participation.

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The future for social participation in TV

BBC (2015) British Bold Creative. The BBC’s programmes and services in the next Charter. Available at: futureofthebbc2015.pdf Clay, L. (2014) The future of social television – commercial opportunities, audience engagement and live programming. Based on a transcript from Westminster Media Forum, TV and The Second Screen: Social Media, Innovation and Regulation, 27 November. DCMS (2015) BBC Charter Review: Public Consultation. London: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Fearnley, P. (2015) myBBC: Transforming the BBC to make it personal. BBC Blog. Available at: Fisch, S. (2004) Children’s Learning From Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond. New Jersey: Routledge. Forbes (2015) NYT Bets On Virtual Reality To Bolster Its Digital Segment. Forbes Investing. 31 December. Available at: 2015/12/31/nyt-bets-on-virtual-reality-to-bolster-its-digital-segment/#239ea 81f6c2f Hecht, J. (2014) Netflix chief downplays Nielsen plans to measure streaming service viewership. Hollywood Reporter. Available at: news/netflix-chief-downplays-nielsen-plans-751931 HOL Select Committee on Communications (2013) Media Convergence. House of Lords 2nd Report of Session 2012–13. Israelson, M. H. (2015) The app map: a tool for systematic evaluation of apps for early literacy learning. The Reading Teacher 69(3): 339–349. doi: 10.1002/ trtr.1414 ITV plc (2015) Written evidence submitted by ITV plc. Evidence to the DCMS on BBC Charter Review 2015. Available at: writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/culture-media-andsport-committee/bbc-charter-review/written/22874.html Kantar (2015) Brand affinity: overlap between people who tweet about TOWIE who also tweet about brands. Kantar Media, Instar Social. 8 April. Leveson Inquiry (2012) An Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press. Lord Justice Leveson report volume 2. Available at: http://webarchive. uk/document/hc1213/hc07/0780/0780_ii.pdf Levinson, P. (2011) Introduction. In Wilber, R. (ed.), Future Media. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications. Methven, N. (2015) BBC loses The Voice to rival ITV as corporation confirms fifth series will be their last. Mirror. Available at: bbc-loses-voice-rival-itv-6787077 Morgan, A. (2014) The role of social media in the television market. Taken from the recorded transcript from Westminster Media Forum, TV and The Second Screen: Social Media, Innovation and Regulation, 27 November. Murray, J. H. (1997) Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press. Nielsen (2015) Social TV: a bellwether for TV audience engagement. Nielsen Social Research Spotlight. Available at:

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Ofcom/Technologia (2014) Assessing the impact of second screen. Authors: Klein, J., Freeman, J., Harding, D., Teffahi, A. Report by Technologia in association with DTG and i2 media research. Plunkett, J. (2015) The Voice expected to stay at the BBC despite interest from ITV. The Guardian. Available at: Silverstein, J. (2015) Virtual reality: a new way to tell stories. New York Times. Available at: Smartt, U. (2014) Media and Entertainment Law. Abingdon: Routledge. Whittingdale, J. (2015) An Interview with John Whittingdale. Edinburgh International Television Festival. Wednesday 26 August. Zuckerberg, M. (2014) Oculus Rift. Facebook statement. Available at: www.


2 Billion Miles. Channel 4 News 75–6 3D-TV 170–1 360-degree commissioning 96 360 videos and virtual reality 172–5 1950s interactive TV 9, 174 1990s experiments 13–14 2001 interactive TV evolution 16–18 2008 Olympics, Beijing 131 2008 phone voting scandal 60 2010 General Election 76–8 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum campaign 6, 43, 82–8 2015 General Election 6, 78–82 2016 BBC Charter Renewal 7, 21, 95, 102, 171, 176–80

An Instance of the Fingerpost (1997) 124 Antiques Roadshow 20–1, 100, 175 Apple Watch 172 appointment-to-view TV 33, 110, 119 The Apprentice (BBC, 2005–) 105–6 Arcadia (2015) 124 The Archers 123 audience activity/motivation/agency 5, 29–47 audience data 13, 51, 63, 115, 163–4 audio fingerprinting 156 audio recognition apps 166–7 Autumnwatch (BBC, 2005–) 36, 97–103, 107–8

Accidental Lovers (2006) 124 active audience motivation/agency 5–6, 29–47 Adam’s proposal to Katie 112 addressable advertising 157–63 Adidas 139, 141 ‘Ad journey’ 161 Ad Sync 150–3, 155, 157, 160 advertising 7, 138–9, 149–69, 178–9 agency 5–6, 29–45 agenda setting 84–5 All4 platform 157–63, 181, 185 The Alternative Census 105–6 Amazon Prime 29, 33, 109, 118–19 America 4; advertising 149, 159, 165–7; documentaries 109; dramas 118–22; interactive TV evolution 9, 11, 23–5; news 77, 83, 85, 88; radio 11; sports 131–4, 140 Anderson, Chris 161

Bad Education (BBC, 2012–) 116–17 BAFTA award ceremony 18, 167 Bamboozle 11 Bank Job (Channel 4, 2012) 52–4 BARB see Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board Battle For Number Ten 80–1 BBC: active audience motivation 36, 40–2, 44; Charter Renewal 7, 21, 95, 102, 170, 176–80; children’s shows 174–5; documentaries 95–110; dramas/storytelling 113–19, 121–7; factual television participation 6; future directions 171–85; interactive TV evolution 17–22, 26; news & current affairs 72–4, 83–8; Red button 17–22, 44, 95; reinvention 7; sport 131–2, 136, see also individual programs BBCi 18–19

Index BBC Text 17–18 Beamly, previously Zeebox 25–6, 115–16 Being Victor 126 Beirut 74 Better Together 83–4 betting 7, 130–48 Biddle, Dan 3, 95 Big Blue Live (BBC, 2015) 108–9 Big Brother (Channel 4, 2000–2010/ Channel 5, 2011–2016) 5, 14–16, 26, 57, 61–2, 184 2 Billion Miles, Channel 4 News 75–6 Blakeman, Robyn 152 Block, Jon 151, 155–6, 165 Bluetooth control 12 books 123–4 Bopheads 152 Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008–2013) 120–1 Brexit, EU Referendum 88–90 Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, 2007–) 61, 65, 106, 152, 184 Britain Unzipped (BBC, 2012) 105 British Bold Creative (BBC, 2015) 171 British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) 102–3 Brittin, Matt 161 broadcast delays 67–8 Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) 13, 51, 63, 115, 163–4 Brooke, Richard 162 BTO see British Trust for Ornithology BuzzFeed 75, 89–90 Cambridge Digital iTV trial 14 CAP see Committee of Advertising Practice Catch-Up TV 4 Ceefax 5, 11–12, 17, 26 Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 2011–) 26, 57 Channel 4: active audience motivation 32, 40–1; advertising 152–4, 157–60, 162; check-in services 23–4; documentaries/factual TV 6, 94–5, 103–7; future trends 180; news & current affairs 5–6, 75–6, 78–81, 83, 87–90, 180; play-along 52–4; sport 135; voting 5, 64–8


Channel 4, see also individual programs Channel 5, 5, 14–16 Charter Renewal, BBC 7, 21, 95, 102, 171, 176–80 cheating 69 check-in services 22–46 children’s shows 13, 174–5 Christmas advertising 160, 166–8 Chunk Media 29, 53, 64–8, 172, 177, 185 civil war 72, 75–6, 94, 172 Clay, Lindsey 7, 172 Clay, Sarah 22, 63–4, 67–8, 105, 115, 175–6 click through rates (CTR) 151, 154, 160 coding TV messages 41–5 commercialising sports engagement 138–9 Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) 179 Common Fisheries Policy 94–5 companion apps: active audience motivation 33, 38, 40; advertising 151–4, 162; Big Brother (Channel 4, 2000–2010/Channel 5, 2011–2016) 62; Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, 2007–) 61; costs 7–8, 175–7; documentaries/factual TV 99–103, 105–6; future trends 171, 175–81, 183–5; I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! (ITV, 2002–) 61; Million Pound Drop 49–50, 52–3, 63, 70, 99, 141, 183; sport 132–41, 143–4, 146; The Singer Takes It All 65–8; The Voice (BBC, 2012–2016) 63–4; The X Factor (ITV, 2004–) 57–61, 102, 151–2, 184 Companion Experiment 97–101 companion projects, TellyBug 6, 8, 68, 126, 132, 153, 182 companion screens 68, 97–8, 175–6 Cook, Ann 58–60 Coronation Street (ITV, 1960–) 112–16, 124 Coronation Street Live 112–14, 124 costs: advertising 154–63; companion apps 7–8; of screens 175–7 Couchman, Ed 162



The Crown 119 CTR see click-through rates cult viewing 39–41 current affairs & news 5–6, 16, 62, 72–93, 113, 137, 139–40, 173, 180 Dangerfield, Andy 89–90 Daniels, Jeff 118 Darling, Alistair 85–6 data layering 180–2 data protection 162–3 D-Day As It Happens (Channel 4, 2013) 107 D’Day (BBC, 2004) 96 debates, politics 76–90, 116 decoding TV messages 41–5 Denmark 4, 54–6, 69 digital public space 6 digital television evolution 14–22 Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) 15 Disney Research 171 distraction factors 3, 6 Doctor Who (1963–) 40, 121–2, 171, 173, 182 documentaries 6, 32–3, 94–111 drama/storytelling 6–7, 30, 61–2, 112–29 DTT see Digital Terrestrial Television Duncan, Andy 21 Dunkirk (BBC, 2004) 96 Dutton, Kevin 104 Eastenders (BBC, 1985–) 113–17 Eastenders Live 113–14 Edinburgh International Television Festival 4, 118 elections 76–91 electronic programme guides (EPG) 12–13 encoding 43–4 Endemol 13, 15, 44, 49, 62–3, 65–6, 70, 150, 152, 154, 166 engagement patterns 5–6, 29–47 Enhanced TV: drama 119–22; future trends 171–4; interactive TV evolution 10, 15, 18–22; news content 81–2; sports 130–2, 137–8 entertaining the interactive user 48–71 EPG see electronic programme guides

European Union (EU) Common Fisheries Policy 94–5 European Union (EU) Referendum 88–90 evolution of interactive television 1, 9–28, 144–6 Facebook: advertising 153, 156, 161–4, 167–8; future trends 180; information needs 33; news & current affairs 72–3, 77–83, 86–90 Facebook Live 88–90 Factcheck 32–3 factual television/documentaries 6, 32–3, 94–111 Fancred 132–3 fandom 39–41, 115, 121–2, 132–3, 135–6, 140–1, 143, 160 Fanduel 140–1, 143 Fanmode 132–3 fantasy sports 139–43 Fearnley, Phil 181 Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh 106 FIFA World Cup match 139 Fifteen to One 13 fingerprinting 156 Fish Fight (Channel 4, 2010) 94–5 flaming, news 87–8 football 134, 136–44 Formula One app 135 Fraser, Ed 5–6, 75–6, 78–9, 90, 180 Fremantle Media UK 40, 57–60, 126, 150–2, 165 Fuhrer, Brian 3–4, 15, 166, 176, 181–3 future directions 7–8, 171–86 Future Media and Technology Division 96 gambling 7, 135–6, 140–4 Gamesmaster 13 Gantz, W. 134 Gawlinski, M. 10, 19 General Elections 6, 76–82, 116 GetGlue check-in service 23–4 Gleeson, John 181 Gogglebox (Channel 4, 2013–) 41 Gok Live: Stripping for Summer 153–4 Goodchild, Marc 3, 5, 13, 17–19, 22, 153, 163, 175–7, 184–5

Index Google 4, 90–1, 149, 156, 161, 164–7 Gormenghast Explore (BBC, 2007) 124–5 Gory Games (CBBC, 2011–) 174 gossip 48, 115–18, 127 Great British Bake Off (BBC, 2010–) 63 The Great Sperm Race 104, 106 Green Paper, BBC Charter Renewal 177–8 Grey’s Anatomy 121 GroupM 165 Hall, Nick 13, 15, 44, 49, 62–3, 65–6, 70, 150, 152, 154, 165–6 Hall, Tony 102, 178 Hamlet on the Holodeck (1997) 123–4 Hammerslag (DR, 1994–) 69 Hastings, Reed 172 Hebden, Kat 40, 57–60, 126, 150–2, 165 history of interactive television 1, 9–28 Holland see Netherlands horse racing 135–6, 143 Horse Tracker app 135–6 Horton, D. 37–9 House of Cards (Netflix, 2013–) 118 Hulu 4, 163 I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! (ITV, 2002–) 61, 184 industry future structures 177 in-play betting 142–3 interactive TV evolution 1, 9–28, 144–6 Internet: active audience motivation 32–5, 39; drama 113–27; interactive TV evolution 13–17, 22–6; news & current affairs 72–91; quiz games 48, 51–3; sports 131–3, 136–45 iPlayer 19, 101, 163, 185 Iskold, Alex 23 Islamic State attacks, Paris 72–4 ITV: advertising 150–64; digital 26; documentaries 102; dramas/ storytelling 112–14, 119, 124; future trends 177, 180–4; Hub 162–3, 181, 185; interactive TV evolution 16–17; news & current affairs 72, 74–5, 77,


88, 90; sport 133–4, 136, 144, see also individual programs jackpot, betting 7, 144–5 James, Marie 40, 61–2, 104, 106–7, 157, 176 Jaye, Victoria 21 Kenya 74 Kilborn, R. 14–15 The Killing (AMC, 2011–2014) 120 Kramskoy, Jerry 2, 12, 68, 98, 176 Ladbrokes 141–2 Lakner, Carsten 54–6, 69 layering social data 181–3 Leveson Inquiry 179 Levinson, P. 171 Levy, Mark 37–8 Lewis, N. 134 licences 26, 54, 137 Liebel, Gene 25 Linsey, Mark 178 London Olympics (2012) 131–2 Love Island 184 McDonnell, Tom 2, 9–10, 25, 44–5, 49, 122, 135–6, 138, 149, 176 McHarg, Brian 29, 53, 64–8, 171, 177, 185 MacTaggart Lecture 4, 118 Made in Chelsea (Channel 4, 2011–) 127 Major League Baseball 132 marketing opportunities 7, 138–9, 149–69, 178–9 mashable content 83–4 Mendonca, Nikki 155 message coding/decoding 41–5 migrant crisis in Europe 6 Millar, Matt, TellyBug 6, 8, 68, 126, 132, 153, 183 Million Pound Drop (Channel 4) 5, 49–50, 52–3, 63, 70, 99, 141, 184 Miso 24 Mittell, Jason 6, 30, 118 mobile news platforms 73–6, 79–82, 90–1 Moffat, Peter 127



monetising gameplay 7, 130–48 Monterosa 2, 9–10, 25, 44–5, 49, 63, 121–3, 135–6, 138, 141, 149, 176 Montgomery, John 165 Morgan, Alistair 180 motivation 5–6, 29–47 multiplatform engagement, news 90–1 Murray, Janet 30, 32, 45, 123–4, 173 MyBBC 181 Nationwide (BBC 1969–83) 41 Netflix 29, 33, 109, 118–19, 172 Netherlands 4, 69, 124–5 news & current affairs 5–6, 16, 62, 72–93, 113, 137, 139–40, 173, 180 News At Ten, ITV 72, 74–5, 77 News Corp 137 newspapers 62, 90–1, 113, 139–40, 173 Nielsen 2–4, 15, 121, 156, 164, 166, 176, 181–3 Oculus Rift VR headset 173 Ofcom 1–3, 26, 60, 68, 101; active audience motivation 33–4, 43; advertising 7, 153–4, 179–80; future trends 179–80, 184–5; news & current affairs 73–4, 90 Olympics, Beijing (2008) 131 Only Fools and Horses (BBC, 1981– 2003) 117 The Only Way Is Essex (ITV, 2010–) (TOWIE) 22, 81, 116, 182 Open digital TV 15–16 Oracle see Teletext The Oscars, advertising 166 Over The Top (OTT) streaming services 4, 6, 29, 109, 118, 163 Packham, Chris 103 para-social interaction 37–41 Paris, Islamic State attacks 72–4 Parks, Lisa 95 participation 5, 7–8, 29–47, 171–86 Participatory TV 10, 15 partner involvement 101–3 passive audiences 5–6, 29–30 Peep Show (Channel 4, 2003–2015) 119

Periscope app 5, 38, 72, 81, 88, 108 personal integrative needs 36–7 Personalised TV 10 phone-in calls 11 phone voting scandal 60 Pippin, Jeremy 140, 143 Player of the Championship competition 133 politics 76–91, 116 privacy issues 162–3 product placement 153–4 programmatic advertising 155–7 The Psychopath Test (Channel 4, 2013–) 104–6 The Queen 119 Question Time (BBC1, 1979–) 36, 42, 84–5 quiz games 48–54 R&D 2, 97–100 races, sport 135–6, 140, 143 radio 11, 123 RadiumOne 133–4, 149, 155, 162, 184 raffles 55 The Reburial of Richard the Third (Channel 4, 2015) 106–7, 116 Red button 17–22, 44, 95 referendum campaigns 6, 43, 82–90 refugee crisis 75–6, 173 regulation trends 179–80, see also Ofcom remote controls 11–13 Research and Development (R&D) 2, 97–100 rights, sports 137–8 Ripper Street (BBC 2012–14) (Amazon 2014–) 119 Roper, Matt 81, 83, 86, 90, 137 Rose, Anthony 25 Ross, Sharon 40–1, 44 Rowling, J.K. 87 Rugby 133–4, 141, 171 Rumble, Jane 1, 3, 34, 184–5 Rust, Nick 136, 142–5 Salmond, Alex 85–6 scale of second screen use 2 scandals, voting 60

Index Schmidt, Eric 4 Science Museum, London 102 Scoones, Tim 98–9, 173–4, 180–1 Scotland Tonight (STV, 2011–) 83 Scottish Independence Referendum campaign 6, 43, 82–8 Scottish news & current affairs 5 set top boxes 10, 12–13 Shazam 166–7 Sherlock (BBC, 2010–) 114–15 show comparisons 5 The Singer Takes It All (Channel 4, 2014) 5, 64–8 Six Nations, Rugby 133–4, 172 Sky Active 16 Sky Bet Live 142, 144–6 Sky News 6, 16, 72, 79–82, 84, 86 Sky Poker 145–6 Sky Sports 145–6 Sky TV 12, 15–16, 19–21, 25, 136–8, 158–9 Sky Vegas Live (Sky, 2004–2011) 145 sleep profiles 19 smart phones 73, 81 Smartt, Ursula 180 Smith, Jody 53 Snapchat, news 87 soap operas 112–17, 124 social capital 34–5 social data layering 181–3 social integration 33–5 social media 72–3, 77–90 social participation 7–8, 171–86 social television: dramas 115–18; interactive TV evolution 22–6 sponsorship: advertising 151–3, 160, 166–7; documentaries 102–3; drama 122; interactive TV evolution 17; sport 134, 139, 141 Spooks (BBC, 2002–2011) 114–15 Spooks Interactive 115 Sport Relief 26 sports 7, 26, 130–48, 172, 178 Springall, David 138, 161, 164, 183 Springwatch (BBC, 2005–) 6, 97–8, 100–3, 107–8, 175 Staines, Rupert 134, 149, 155, 162–3, 184 Stancliffe, Paul 102–3


Stand Up and Be Counted website 79–80 Stargazing Live (BBC, 2011–) 103 Stats Zone 136 Still Game (BBC, 2002–) 119 storytelling/dramas 6–7, 30, 61–2, 112–29 streaming platforms 36–7, 118–19 Strictly Come Dancing 55, 171, 178 STV News 1, 5, 81, 83, 85–6, 90, 137 Sub Zero 13, 175 Super Bowl 166–8 superfans 39–41, 115, 121–2, 135–6, 160 surveillance programs 5, 14–16, 26, 32, 41, 57, 61–2, 184 SVP Cross-Platform Product 3–4, 15, 166, 176, 181–3 Syrian civil war 72, 75–6, 94, 173 tablets, news & current affairs 73, 81 talent competitions 5, 21–2, 40, 56–68, 81, 102, 106, 150–3, 160–1, 175–8, 183–4 taxonomies of interaction 10 Team Sky app 135 Teletext 5, 11, 13, 26, 48 TellyBug 6, 8, 68, 126, 132, 153, 183 terrorism 72–4 Test the Nation 19 text-based services 11 The Telegraph app 140 Thinkbox 7, 172 three-dimensional TV (3D-TV) 171–2 Tour De France 135 transmedia storytelling 61–2, 122–7 transportation, dramas 125–7 trolls 87–8 Trump, Donald 84 Twitter 3, 5, 53–4, 56–8; advertising 153, 162, 167–8; audience motivation 35–6, 38, 42; documentaries 95, 100, 102, 108–9; dramas 112–13, 116–17, 127; future trends 180–2; interactive TV evolution 24–6; news & current affairs 72–3, 77–87; Periscope app 5, 38, 72, 81, 88, 108; sport 137–9;



The X Factor (ITV, 2004–) 57–8, 60, 62, 64 unity promotion 73 Universal Control 12 Uses and Gratifications theories 30–2, 35–6, 38, 41, 160 value systems 41–3 VCR see video cassette recorders Versus 54–6, 69 Vice News 90 video cassette recorders (VCR) 11–13 Video On Demand (VOD) streaming services 4, 10, 12–13, 33, 52, 119, 130, 150–1, 154–5, 157, 160, 162, 164, 177, 185 video streaming 20, 88–90, 142 viewability/view value, advertising 164–5 viewer engagement patterns 5–6, 29–47 Viggle 25 virtual reality 172–5 Visiware 51–2 VOD see Video On Demand The Voice (BBC, 2012–2016) 22, 63–4, 161, 175–8, 184 The Voice (ITV, 2016) 184 voting 5, 58–68, 76–91 Walking with Beasts (BBC, 2001) 18 The Walking Dead (AMC, 2010–) 119–21, 166

Was it something I said? (Channel 4, 2013) 53–4 watermarking 156 wedding proposals 112 WhatsApp, news 79, 87 White Papers 1, 12 Whittingdale, John 178 Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (ITV 1998–2014) 16–17, 51, 61 WiFi control 10, 12 William Hill 141–3 Wimbledon 17, 131, 171 Winky Dink and You (CBS, 1953– 1957) 9, 174 Winterwatch 97 Wohl, R. 37–9 World Cup Football 139, 141–2 World Cup Rugby 133–4 X Factor Backstage 153 The X Factor (ITV, 2004–) 5, 21, 40, 56–65, 67–8, 81, 102, 106, 150–3, 160, 178, 183–4 The X-Files (FOX, 1993–2002) 22 Yospace 138, 161, 164 YouTube 36, 56, 77, 80, 82, 139, 146, 161–2, 164–5 Zeebox 25–6 Zodiak Media 54–6, 69 Zuckerberg, Mark 173