SECOND SCREENS AND SOCIAL TV – Making waves in the broadcast world

Second screening is the new way to consume broadcast content, with companies beginning to look at ways to control the way consumers second screen – and how to make money out of it. George Cole provides an overview of this 21st century viewing trend.

Second screen is making waves in the broadcast, social media and video worlds. In essence, second screen involves using a second display device, like a smartphone, laptop or tablet, while watching television. Many people are now second screening: research by Nielsen found that 70% of tablet users and 68% of smartphone owners used their device while watching television.

“There are a lot of stats that show that a very large percentage of people who watch TV are doing it with a second screen on their lap,” says Chuck Parker, former Chief Commercial Officer of Technicolor. “Now there’s some debate about whether they are using the second screen for emailing or checking their bank balance, but there a large percentage who are on their Twitter feeds doing a realtime search on the TV show they’re watching or using Facebook to tell their friends what they’re watching. The TV and video industries are excited because this is a shift in consumer behaviour, and it’s probably the first time you can demonstrate to advertisers and content makers that real engagement is taking place.”

Social TV is a second screen activity. “Social TV is digital interaction between people about television content or their digital interaction with that content,” says Colin Donald, Director of research company Futurescape. He adds that the concept of Social TV is not new. “Television has always had a significant social dimension, as with viewing: together in the living room and having water cooler conversations at work. One key reason that Social TV participation is growing is because it meets some of our most fundamental social needs, such as self-expression and affiliation with others through shared cultural references.”

Dan Cryan, Senior Analyst, Head of Broadband Media, at media research company IHS Screen Digest, agrees: “You now have a collection of companies who are tapping into a very well established mode of behaviour, with media companies trying to engage with this and maintain their relevance on the second screen.” Jeremy Toeman, Chief Product Officer, Dijit Media, says, “We’re seeing a lot of attempts to digitally harness the chatter around TV, much as the early days of ‘social media’ attempted to capture conversations around a myriad of topics.”

A poll conducted by the digital marketing agency Digital Clarity of more than 1,300 people under the age of 25 in the UK found that 80% of those surveyed use a mobile device to communicate with friends while watching TV, with 72% using Twitter, Facebook or mobile applications, to actively comment on shows as they are watching them. In the US, a Nielsen/Yahoo study found that more than 86% of mobile internet users communicated with each other in real-time during TV broadcasts. Reggie James, founder of Digital Clarity, says, “TV shows with small audiences can generate enormous traffic on Twitter. Social TV is a new platform for engaging with a TV show and has turned TV programmes into online events.”


The Social TV market is being driven by several factors: the massive growth of social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, the wide availability of broadband in homes, and the vast sales of connected devices like smartphones and tablets. Futuresource Consulting says that global shipments of tablets reached 15.5 million units in Q3 2011, compared with 4.5 million for the same period in 2010 – Apple accounted for 70% of tablet shipments in the US.

Many see the tablet as the perfect form factor for second screen usage. “The tablet is the device for the living room and the most socially acceptable device,” says Ajay Shah, CEO of TV Plus, a TV web browser company. “The tablet screen is parallel to the ground, whereas the screen on a smartphone or laptop is perpendicular, and closed off from others.”

Many parties are jostling for position in the second screen market including broadcasters, film studios, television manufacturers, advertisers, social network sites, technology developers, and start-up companies developing apps for second screen activities. “New DNA is coming into the broadcast world,” notes Alex Terpstra, CEO of technology company Civolution. “Broadcasters tend not to innovate quickly, but start-ups develop things fast. It will be exciting to see how things go.”

Start-up company zeebox has developed a second screen app. A survey of 5,000 people by zeebox and Lightspeed found that most people still watch live television, rather than recorded, but that there was much dissatisfaction with the medium, says Anthony Rose, zeebox co-founder and CTO. “People are frustrated with live television because it hasn’t kept up with the pace of innovation. On a computer, you can use Skype, email and watch a video, but TV just beams out at you. We found that 57% got around this frustration by using a second screen, and of these, 60% were using the second screen for a programme-related activity, such as doing a Google search on an actor.”

Little wonder that some broadcasters and programme makers have developed apps, websites or platforms to cater for the second screen. HBO Connect is a Social TV platform for fans of HBO programmes, where they can sign-in using their Facebook or Twitter account and discuss HBO shows with others. Ten US broadcast groups, including Barrington, Hearst and Raycomm, have formed a partnership with Social TV start-up ConnecTV. The broadcasting groups cover 76 million households and more than 200 stations, such as ABC, CBS and Fox. UK commercial broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 are developing second screen apps.

“Television companies throughout the value chain have good reason to support Social TV because they see its potential to increase ratings and therefore advertising revenue; boost pay-TV and video-on-demand income, and also work with paid transactions, such as talent show voting and merchandise sales,” says Donald. In US TV, there are ad breaks 18 minutes in every hour, but this level of advertising is not possible on a second screen device, notes Aslam Khader, Chief Technology and Product Officer for technology company Ensequence. “And so finding a way to monetize the second screen audience is difficult. The content industry wants second screen to augment the TV experience and not replace it.”

Connected TV (also known as Smart TV) systems are increasingly incorporating Social TV: many connected TV sets have Facebook and Twitter apps pre-installed. Donald observes: “Pay- TV operators are upgrading their set-tops for Social TV functionality, while the Xbox and PlayStation game consoles have their own social networks and can access third-party social networks; major tech companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are providing the software to enable connected TV and, with it, Social TV.”


he technology behind second screen products and systems is often quite complex, not least because most rely on apps and the ability to synchronize the television program with the second screen device. Chuck Parker classifies second screen app functions into various types. The first, which he calls ‘Simple’, is designed to make the first screen easier to navigate, with functions like an advanced remote control. ‘Social’ integrates with the various social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. ‘Seamless’ integrates multiple services into the experience such as Hulu, Netflix, and an operator’s VOD service. ‘Stimulating’ creates a more in-depth experience with the TV content, such as sports stats, related news events, commerce experiences, and associated advertising. ‘Discovery’ provides relevant suggestions to content you might enjoy. Another app feature is ‘Search’. Most second screen apps offer several or more of these features.

The key to synchronizing the TV program and the second screen device is a system known as automatic content recognition or ACR. One system, audio watermarking, adds inaudible data to the soundtrack in a way that combines sound and data into a single entity. “The advantage is that wherever the sound goes the watermark goes,” says Civolution’s Alex Terpstra. The second screen device uses a built-in microphone to pick up the TV sound and combined watermark. Watermark detection software on the second screen device analyzes the sound, finds the watermark and can retrieve any information within it. This information could include a channel identifier or even a content identifier, so the second screen device knows, for example, that ‘I’m now syncing with The X-Factor on Channel 9’. The information also contains time codes, which enable the second screen device to remain in sync with the TV content.

Audio fingerprinting involves the second screen device picking up the TV sound, but this time, no extra information is added to the sound. Fingerprinting works by analyzing unique features from the content and comparing them to a database of reference fingerprints to find a match. Fingerprinting requires the second screen devices to generate fingerprints from the TV sound, which are matched against reference fingerprints, which are often stored in the cloud. “Watermarking requires modifying content, but fingerprinting requires a reference database and an infrastructure for second screen devices to be able to access it,” says Terpstra. In both ACR systems, there’s no requirement for the first and second screen devices to communicate with each other via an internet connection.

However, a third synchronization system involves the television and second screen device syncing with each other through a shared Wi-Fi connection, although this system is rarely used, as most TVs don’t have internet connectivity. Sony’s Blu-ray second screen system is known as a vertically controlled environment, and uses a shared Wi-Fi connection to sync the second screen device with a BD Live-enabled Blu-ray player. If Wi-Fi synchronization is unavailable, Sony offers a manual sync option. But not every second screen system relies on synchronization technology. Start-up company Starling has no plans to use synchronization, says its CEO Declan Caulfield. “When we examined what a sample of second screen users said about synchronization, it was interesting to note that many reactions were negative, especially if the synchronization technology didn’t work. It looks like magic when a device tells you what TV show you’re watching, but all it’s doing is telling you something you already know. When people come together to chat about a TV program, there’s already a high degree of synchronization between them.”


A number of Hollywood studios have also developed second screen-enabled Blu-ray titles, which come with extra content that is viewed on the second screen. The studios hope that by providing second screen content only on sell- through titles, consumers will purchase rather than rent. Disney has launched a handful of second screen titles including Bambi and Tron Legacy, while Universal’s second screen titles like Fast Five and Tower Heist use a pocket Blu app, which allows an iPhone to control the Blu-ray title, and gives access to extra content related to the movie. The pocket Blu app also works with an iPad, iPod Touch, Android smartphones and tablets, PCs and Macs.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Smurfs Blu-ray release offers Smurf-O-Vision second screen fun activities. The Weinstein Company’s The King’s Speech uses Technicolor’s MediaEcho second screen app for features such as bonus streaming audio and video content, audio commentary excerpts, behind the scenes information, actor profiles, connection to IMDB and other online databases, social media integration and e-commerce.

Jim Bottoms, Director, Futuresource Consulting, says that while he can see a compelling case for live TV shows embracing the second screen, the jury is still out for Blu-ray titles, “There’s a lot of experimentation going on – it’s like the early days of BD Live. The challenge is whether there’s something people can be doing that relates to the movie at the same time. It’s not proven that consumers want it.”

Some second screen apps, like Yahoo’s IntoNow, require second screen users to check-in and notify their friends what they’re watching, but most systems use what Shah describes as “deep engagement,” which can automatically connect users to others watching the same television show, for example, by displaying Twitter feeds related to the programme.

Cinram’s 1K Studios is developing a second screen app for Blu-ray titles, and Matt Kennedy, 1K Studios President, says that while second screen apps are currently used to support the TV content, he foresees a time when, “The app could provide the primary content on your second screen device, and the film on the television screen is the supporting content.”

Some wonder if second screen will turn out to be a fad or something that is used only by younger (under 35) consumers. But few think that second screen will disappear, and Shah says, “With most new technologies, it’s the young people who embrace it first. But then it spreads to adjacent demographics and beyond. Facebook started out with a college demographic – today, the fastest growing user base is people over 60.”


Still many questions remain, including: who are the likely winners and losers in the second screen market? Shay Fan a member of the marketing team at Miso, a social TV platform, says, “Success will come when someone figures out the magic formula for ‘stickiness’ – something that will make users want to stay and interact with content. With so much competing for our attention, it will be a difficult, crowded industry.”

Toeman adds, “I think all the traditional players will remain winners for quite some time to come, it’s their game to lose really. This is a big challenging space, and I think success will come from the companies who best understand what consumers actually want to do with their time and how they enjoy watching TV. Those who are trying to shape or shift behaviours will have an uphill battle, as well as those who pay too much attention to hype, and not enough to reality.”



IDate released an innovation report called “Social Video” which addresses the power of Social Networks to TV channels and online video services.

The video site rolled out an upgrade which now includes sharing, recommendations, ratings and Facebook streaming tools.

“Thanks to these new features, Wat has expanded the social dimension of its service and is offering users a richer and more engaging experience by capitalizing on the popularity of the globe’s biggest social network (more than 400 million members),” says IDATE senior consultant, S. Girieud, while pointing out that, “this partnership with Facebook should help attract and keep new users and/or generate more traffic on the online video platform, and so help boost the ad-based monetization of its inventory”.

IDate forecasts that the following process will lead to the ad-based monetization of the inventory:

By integrating a major social network’s most popular tools (Facebook’s Live Feed, Twitter’s tweets), free online TV/video services such as TV channel Web sites, VOD services and video sharing platforms can offer their users a richer viewing experience. Better experiences in turn help create and retain audience and/or additional traffic (more visits and visitors, more time spent, more page views) and thereby generate more ad revenue from a site’s inventory.

The “Social Video” report addresses the following key questions:

• How can TV channels integrate social networking sites into their broadcasting strategies?
• Can social networks help free online TV and video services pull in enough additional advertising revenue?
• Will the social graph be a new performance driver for pay-VOD recommendations systems?
• How can social networks gain from these closer relationships with players in the TV and video industry?
• What strategies are being used by the key TV channels, free online TV and video service providers, pay-VOD players and social networking sites?

Social Search & Discovery – Psychodynamic Heuristics

Everyone agrees that social TV needs to be measurable. Advertisers need to secure their investments based on return value. A mobile device acts as a digital extension of each individual these days, which means that mobile phones are the gateway to accessing preferences, interests and behaviors that are unique to each individual. Mobile devices and secondary screens will have an essential role in the delivery of interactive multimedia and bidirectional communication by acting as portals to the individual. The mobile device is a pivotal point of access for bidirectional feedback, between the TV and the viewer, and between a company and a consumer.

I encounter and hear the same dilemma constantly, that there are so many channels, but there’s nothing on! This perpetual predicament indicates that there is a dire need for services that assist viewers in the “search” process by navigating through content sources. Existing companies across the TV spectrum are investing in technology and new services that help narrow down the plethora of sources by curating content. Currently, a popular form of search is through the use of a word cloud or tag cloud. This visual selection strains metadata down to generate suggestions directly related to the individual’s desired mix. Spotify uses this for it’s radio feature and Cablevision recently launched a channel to help navigate available content in this style. It’s a start, but I’ll be impressed when I’m offered entertainment suggestions from all available sources, such as: linear TV, DVR, On Demand, Pay-per-view, OTT streaming, web UGC, household cloud storage, game consoles, etc… The TV needs to be smart and exploited for its mechanical assets by deploying navigational pivots that intuitively make input switching a stress of the past.

TV today is static. The medium is mass-produced and often unrelated to my life on the surface. Search may cater to a viewer’s current mood, but discovery is what encourages the viewer to advance during the decision-making process. I learn about new music via my friends on Spotify and find new photos via my friends on Instagram. Both services are socially powered by leveraging communities on Facebook and Twitter to generate relatable content. Where is the Spotify/Instagram format for TV/Film/Games? The power of peer-to-peer influence can drive new consumers to products and maintain loyal users by providing a social value exchange.

Viewers are craving features that help put all that TV static into a dynamic social context. This is the element of “discovery.” In my opinion, discovery occurs when the information presented is surprisingly related to the viewer(s) own preferences and socially comparable to those in their respective network. Keynote speaker at the TVOT show (NYC 2011), Andy Mitchell, displayed a slide that said, “Friend to friend discovery drives more value than your average promotional campaign.” Facebook is a proven source for such social insights. Social discovery will be a key component in the content discovery process of the future.  To execute insightful discovery, the connected TV needs to become socially aware by accounting for both the physical and the virtual social experience.

The Physical. Decision-making is a frustrating process. Personally, I waste plenty of time searching through content, reading descriptions, watching previews and consulting reviews in order to select something that will also appeal to both my parents and myself, sometimes with a preteen sister in the mix! A true “smart TV” should assist me in this search and discovery process. The connected TV and all OTT services need to be able to account for multiple users. TV communication with surrounding mobile devices can establish the necessary touch-points individually seated on the couch. The smart TV needs to detect surrounding devices, process multiple accounts/preferences, extract value from those data sets and produce recommendations that are customized specifically to the unique viewing group.  A true social TV experience will be able to search through all available content, cater suggestions to the physical social group and compare generated content against associated virtual networks. This would truly reduce wasted time in the decision making process, increase users’ enjoyment by serving the physical group interest, facilitate communal content discovery and encourage mobile sharing for all viewers in the physical group. The same multi-user sensory system can propel interactive communication from the main unit (TV) to all peripheral devices (Mobile) to enable gamification, provide companion content and offer contextual commerce. ACR (Automatic Content Recognition) will soon be built into the TV and automatically extend engagement by offering companion content to peripheral mobile screens in the detected network. What technology do you think is best for bidirectional communication in a personalized area network?

The Virtual. Virtual communities influence the user(s) in the decision-making process by offering social validations. Validations can emerge from the public (out-group) and from the user’s personalized network (in-group). For example, visible and accessible contributions, like ratings/reviews, are perceived as a credible source because strangers in society become peers in a shared content community. An app given 4 stars from over 2,000 users will impact a potential consumer’s decision to purchase the product because the individual will impulsively acquiesce to the collective groupthink, based on scale. Although there is power in numbers, the true investment value will be in leveraging private social communities, where familiar faces naturally attract attention and interest. Motivation and incentive are heightened when the context of a decision is personalized by emotional connections to real world relationships. Social quality is a trusted in-groupsource, whereas; social quantity is a credible out-group source because the large scale endorses pubic opinion. Incorporating both public and private communities will offer valuable guidance during the search process and offer influential content suggestions for the multi-user group.

Connected TV needs to establish seamless communication with participating mobile devices. Then the smart TV needs to detect the multiple accounts engaged with their respective various social networks, compare multimedia content relationships on the social graph and extract presentable value. It won’t happen overnight, but refining the search process to become socially aware of both the physical and virtual connections will uncover psychodynamic insights in how information flows as well as perception of multi-device heuristic models. Early models will begin to establish expectations and influence viewers’ behaviors and habits. Connected TV and social TV implementation will lead to targeted marketing campaigns that strategically extend reach across screens and utilize the interactive feedback loop for localized and personalized fulfillment.

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Facebook and Twitter are fighting for key roles in the worldwide television market, particularly TV advertising and pay-TV, as Internet-connected television makes TV into a social medium. Social TV: How Facebook, Twitter and connected television transform global TV advertising, pay-TV, EPGs and broadcasting is the first critical appraisal of how the battle between the two major social networks over social TV is shaping twenty-first century television and challenging the TV industry.

The winner will take a dominant strategic position in socially-targeted TV advertising, pay-TV content recommendation, TV show marketing, next-generation EPGs and interactive viewing. The television is already becoming a social device, as Google TV, Yahoo Connected TV, CE manufacturers and pay-TV operators race to connect TV sets to the Internet.

Internet TV apps enable viewers to access their social networks via the TV screen and to discuss TV shows on TV while they watch. Viewers can also use social networks and apps on the TV to recommend TV shows or movies to family and friends. They can equally discover shows and movies from them.

This rise of social television particularly benefits the main social networking services, Facebook and Twitter, so that they are now rivals for multi-billion dollar segments of the international television market.


  1. Facebook aims to tap the $180bn worldwide TV ad market – Google TV and other connected TV systems will put Facebook and Twitter targeted ads on TV screens
  2. Global pay-TV, estimated at $250bn in 2014, needs social recommendation and discovery services because these encourage viewers to subscribe to more expensive packages and buy more video-on-demand – Facebook and Twitter are both major providers of social data
  3. Middleware and EPG providers similarly need social network data for recommendation and discovery – the European EPG market alone will be worth $555m by 2014
  4. Facebook and Twitter buzz affects TV ratings, while broadcasters that use the social networks for viewer engagement are effectively sharing their audiences with them
  5. The social networks know in real time how people react to TV programming – this is an essential supplement to Nielsen-type viewing data
    This report maps out the emerging social TV landscape and analyses how the battle over social TV between the social networks, and other Internet companies such as Google, permanently transforms the TV market, as connected television arrives in our homes.

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5.5. Facebook and Twitter on three screens – a better service for users Both Facebook and Twitter stand to benefit from their arrival on connected TVs. At the very least, their existing users will be able to enjoy the added convenience of having the services on the living room screen, as well as on the PC, laptop, mobile and iPad.

Edelman’s insight that people think of social networks as entertainment means viewers are likely to regard social networks as another entertainment option on the TV screen.

From a CE manufacturer perspective, Vizio co-founder Ken Lowe agrees: “We are witnessing the demise of television, new technologies are going to take over, television is being replaced by the entertainment display.” Just reading updates and tweets by family and friends can be entertaining. Contributing in real time, whether via the TV set or via a second screen device, creates opportunities for people to become even more socially engaged with TV programming.

If users do appreciate having Facebook and Twitter on TV, then user satisfaction should grow, even if incrementally at first, and reduce churn for the social networks.

Churn would appear to be more of an issue for Twitter than Facebook, as the company has said that it needs to explain the service’s benefits better to new users, as there is often a “so what?” reaction after joining.

For each of the social networks, new users may be recruited as flat screen buyers discover that the two services are already available via the apps gallery.

5.6. Providing real-time conversation and social interaction via the TV One of the main commercial goals is to be the real-time conversation service that runs alongside major live viewing events, such as the Super Bowl or the Oscars. Such conversations are already increasingly integrated on broadcasters’ Web sites, via Facebook and Twitter social plug-ins.

Providing them direct on the TV screen will give a social network invaluable usage and awareness amongst connected TV viewers. That awareness will spread from those viewers to their personal social networks.

There will be further specific commercial opportunities from sharing advertising, sponsorship and other revenue streams, such as transactional, that derive from the app that incorporates the conversation.

This will likely require the social network to have one or more partners. Depending on the social TV system, these could be with the CE manufacturer or platform operator and the broadcaster or content rights owner.

These prospective partners will have to consider their overall relationships with the social networks. For instance, broadcasters and content owners may opt to favour Twitter over Facebook. By backing the smaller service, they could give themselves some flexibility and not be locked into Facebook for all of their social functionality and social graph requirements.

5.7. The social networks target the TV data market, to supply social data to the TV industry Both Twitter and Facebook have the ability to provide social graph data to the TV industry, either free or in


PHILO, the social television platform that is (re)inventing television by giving TV fans a new way to watch and interact with their favorite shows, announced today that it has completed financing with a consortium of institutional and angel investors.  Also today, PHILO made two new product introductions.  The company officially launched v.1.2 of its iPhone and iPod Touch app, which now supports check-in to time-shifted television content.  In addition, PHILO debuted its social TV Web application, available at

North Bridge Venture Partners and DFJ Gotham Ventures are among PHILO’s institutional investors.  North Bridge’s Dayna Grayson, who joined PHILO’s Board of Directors, noted, “We have spent a lot of time in the digital media space and are big believers in the future of social and interactive television.  We are extremely excited to support PHILO in exploiting this burgeoning opportunity.”  In addition to the institutional investors, several others contributed to the financing including ENIAC Ventures and Studio Lambert CEO, Stephen Lambert, one of the most prolific worldwide television format executive producers/creators whose credits include the award-winning “Wife Swap,” “Faking It,” “Secret Millionaire” and, most recently, “Undercover Boss.”

“We are honored to be supported by such an established and well-regarded group of institutional and angel investors,” stated David Levy, Co-Founder and CEO of PHILO.  Levy added, “We launched PHILO to the public just over a month ago and already the response from users and media companies has been outstanding.  PHILO changes the way people approach, watch, and interact with television.  The possibilities for real time social interaction, content discovery, and promotional opportunities are nearly limitless.”

The new PHILO iPhone and iPod Touch app features a number of enhancements, which are also reflected in the all-new PHILO Web app.  For example:

  • Users now can tune-in to and comment on DVR’d shows as well as live programming.
  • With the new iPhone/iPod push notifications, when friends tune in, users receive alerts delivered to their handhelds even if they’re not currently playing PHILO.
  • PHILO’s new and improved activity stream lets users see how friends and other viewers are tuning in, commenting, winning awards, and earning credits.
  • PHILO added more awards for viewing behavior (some secret and some not so secret), which send users on a virtual scavenger hunt through television programming.
  • New “credits” like Director and Executive Producer let users climb the Hollywood ranks on their favorite shows by tuning in and interacting more than other viewers.
  • And, of course, the new app is optimized for iOS4.

Whether it’s a sporting event, a reality show, a prime time soap or the latest episode of a beloved sci-fi hit, PHILO turns every episode of every television series into an instantaneous group version of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” for users and their friends.  The result is an even more engaging version of television as we know it.  Built into PHILO is a series of fun interactive games as well as prizes that users can unlock as they meet up with friends and check in to more television shows.

PHILO is available in the App Store here, and the download is free.

Best (and worst) social TV moments of the Oscars

This year’s Academy Awards on ABC was infused with social media and second-screen experiences, top to bottom. So much so, we were juggling apps and devices — three different hosted live streams during the red carpet show — which was a bit out of control. While the show didn’t offer many (if any) smashing viral moments, there were some terrific second-screen developments and a few memorable social media tidbits.

(Update: The Oscars falls well short of social TV records Super Bowl and Grammys)

Best on-screen Twitter integration goes to…

Last year, it was news when the #Oscars hashtag appeared on the screen. This year, that’s par for the course, but a red carpet Twitter integration caught our eye. Users were asked to tweet with #bestdressed and the name of the celebrity to vote for their favorites. Every 30 minutes or so, the red carpet hosts announced the top three, in a simple bottom-third graphic (below). It was easy, clean and consistent with the show. There have been hashtag votes in other shows before, but I think this illustrates how you don’t always need a big trending dashboard thing to make Twitter a valuable interactive element of a show.

Biggest Oscars publicity stunt…

“Part of me thought he’d be up to something,” Ryan Seacrest said live on E! after Sasha Baron Cohen, dressed as “The Dictator,” dumped fake ashes on him. “When someone asks what you’re wearing, you’ll tell them Kim Jong Il!” Cohen yelled. Other than the fashions, this stunt was the subject of many red carpet tweets.

Oscars moment that turned into a Twitter account…

The best second-screen experience goes to…

There are a few winners here. During pre-show, we liked the IntoNow experience (below) that gave users the ability to “like” or “dislike” fashions by displaying photos (with about a 5-10 minute delay) from the red carpet. After you voted, you could see how others reacted.

During the show itself, the Oscars app provided multiple backstage live streams and a hosted experience, too. We found it distracting during the show — unless there was a particular winner we wanted to track backstage (after all, producers cut off people after about 30 seconds at the microphone.) For example, when the emotional Octavia Spencer left the stage, we watched as she made her way backstage, could barely talk into the “thank you” camera, then went to the press room for more. You could watch in a six-screen split (our favorite) or watch the ticker to see what was happening on various cameras. Very well done.

Also during the show, Viggle surprised us the most. The TV rewards app provided a slick real-time poll (below) that’s one of the best second-screen experiences we’ve seen. Perfectly in time with the broadcast, Viggle asked for predictions the moment a presenter approached the stage. It locked the votes seconds before they were read. Then it displayed the winner (awarding points accordingly) moments after it was announced. In each case, it prompted the user with a sound effect — the sound of a projector — which could be disabled easily. During other moments, it served up trivia questions (and you could get hints via Bing searches — yep, it was sponsored Bing.) All in all, the points all added up to real rewards.

On the conversation front, Twitter wins again. Twitter’s owned apps and may not be perfect, but they’re still better than other second-screen apps with Twitter clients for posting tweets. And definitely better than other second-screen apps running on their own discussion platform that have yet to gain any scale — those apps weren’t empty rooms this time, but the quality of discussion was dramatically lacking. This time, Twitter even pulled together its own list of live-tweeters for the show — probably not the last time we’ll see Twitter organizing content production (instead of just platform technology) around live events.

The best new second-screen feature is…

Umami rolled out a feature before the Oscars that’s one of the best we’ve seen on the second screen: a simple way to “screen grab” an image of what you’re watching on TV and sharing it with your friends (below). Umami lets you sync with the broadcast, then click “freeze frame” to choose from several images snapped from the broadcast over the last 30 seconds or so. Pick one, then share it out with your friends. Snazzy.

Weirdest second-screen moment is…

At one moment during the red carpet pre-show, I was watching three live streams at the same time — all hosted by different people — on TV, online and the Oscars app. And at one point, Milla Jovovich was “live” on two separate streams at once. Hmmm.

During the show, the official account @theAcademy tweeted gems like this one. Over and over again. (Spoiler alert? Now if it tweeted who won several minutes in advance, THAT would be a spoiler.) Not to mention, the upcoming presenter was already teased minutes before on TV, and in this case, Tina Fey had already been on the air for several minutes by the time it appeared in my tweet stream.

Social TV Fans Driven By Desire To Keep Shows On The Air: Survey

Viewers Believe They Can Influence TV Business, According to Poll

By Todd Spangler — Multichannel News, 4/3/2012 3:19:30 PM EDT

The top reason TV viewers cite for engaging with Twitter, Facebook and other social media is to prevent their favorite shows from getting canceled, according to a recent survey by

In a March 2012 online survey, 76% of respondents said keeping their favorite shows on the air was their main motivation for social activity, up from 66% on a survey last year. Telling friends which shows they watch was the No. 1 reason a year ago at 77%, dropping to 61% in the 2012 survey.

The results indicate that “fans believe they have the power to influence the business of TV,” general manager Christy Tanner said in prepared remarks. She was scheduled to present the survey findings at the Social TV Summit in San Francisco Tuesday.

Major live TV events also are a big driver: 69% of respondents said they participated in social activity to see what others were saying about an event like the Super Bowl or the Grammy Awards, while 33% of respondents said they wanted to say something about the event.

Of those who participate in social TV activity, 95% said they do so after watching a show — up from 68% last year — while 40% participate during a show (up from 33%) and 53% before a show (up from 52%).’s social TV research was based on seven surveys in February and March 2012, with between 1,800 and 3,500 participants per survey. The definition of social activity in the survey included a broad variety of social actions, including posts, status updates, check-ins and comments on social networks, fan sites, official network sites and entertainment sites and apps. — as well as TV Guide Network and the TV Guide brand — are part of a joint venture owned by Lionsgate and One Equity Partners, the private equity firm of JPMorgan Chase. has more than 24 million monthly unique users, who have created 500,000 social watch-lists on the site and entered 7 million TV check-ins.