SVG Summit: Second-Screen Strategies Go Beyond Social Media

Desktops and tablets and phones, oh my.

While the big screen continues to be the primary screen of choice for most Americans, secondary screens have become as integral to the TV-watching experience as remote controls — and often, more impossible to put down.

From left: ONE World Sports’ Sandy Brown, NBC Sports and Olympics’ Eric Black, and Turner Sports’ Jeff Mirman

From left: ONE World Sports’ Sandy Brown, NBC Sports and Olympics’ Eric Black, and Turner Sports’ Jeff Mirman

In order to attract and retain roving eyeballs, broadcasters must weave second-screen needs into traditional first-screen production. At last month’s SVG Summit in New York City, a panel of broadcast executives explained how their networks are targeting fans through multiple screens, platforms, and social-media strategies.

“It’s all about trying to take what’s basically not able to make it to the screen and put it somewhere else,” said Jeff Mirman, VP, marketing, Turner Sports. “We were able to take a lot of statistics and knowledge based on what’s going on in the game and put it on Twitter or Facebook or [our] apps. … It’s really more of a 360[-degree] experience.”

Cohen edited

HBO Sports’ Jason Cohen

Increasingly, broadcasters are finding ways to connect the first- and second-screen productions, rather than treat the second screen as an afterthought.

“We’re first pushing stats from the truck straight to Twitter — stats that weren’t making the air, that were staying on the truck floor. Now at least they have an audience, and they’re being used in some capacity,” said Jason Cohen, director of live events, HBO Sports, adding, “Then, we’re taking some of our Instagram pictures and inserting them into some of our virtual graphics on the screen.”

Social-media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are inherent to most networks’ second-screen strategies. However, broadcasters are finding uses for the second screen that go beyond gathering “likes” and creating hashtags.

WWE drives fans to its Monday Night Raw second-screen offering, where it broadcasts live video content. According to WWE’s Rob Bernstein, the network draws approximately 15% of its 5 million-strong audience to its app during the show.

WWE’s Rob Bernstein

WWE’s Rob Bernstein

“Second screen is a huge part of what we do,” said Bernstein, who serves as VP/editorial director of digital and print. “What we’ve been doing in the past year is streaming live video content backstage to the app directly. During all commercial breaks, we tap into this backstage area and provide our fans with live video content. We’re seeing a tremendous reach on that platform.”

As established networks use the second screen and social media to further engage viewers, fledgling networks have found that the second screen can be useful in building an audience. ONE World Sports has expanded its audience by tapping into the existing fanbases of its properties, including Premier League teams Chelsea, Arsenal, and Bayern Munich.

“We develop content around those particular club channels, where people can actually watch separate programming apart from what they see on our linear air,” explained ONE World Sports CEO Sandy Brown. “We basically started from zero in terms of likes and followers, and now we’re up into five figures.”

By incorporating the second screen into production plans, broadcasters are not limited in the amount of video they can create and push to audiences. Online offerings, like ESPN3 or NBCOlympics.com, free networks from the constraints of the linear broadcast and provide a portal for additional events.

“With the Olympics coming up, we’ve got a tremendous amount of content, way more than we could actually put on-air,” said Eric Black, VP, technology, NBC Sports and Olympics. “As we look towards desktop, iPads, Androids, iPhones, etc., the second screen to us could necessarily be the primary screen.”

Of course, when it comes to the second screen, social-media platforms should not be forgotten. The panelists urged discretion in selecting social-media platforms, because each comes with a specific audience, language, and set of rules. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Tumblr, networks must find the platforms that work best for their brand.

“At the end of the day, it just enhances the brand, enhances engagement,” said Brown. “It just brings people into watching our content, and I think that anybody will tell you the future of this business is mobile.”

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