Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Test Driving SecondScreen for Sports and Celebrity Entertainment Last Sunday

As I said in my previous post, I wanted to test drive some of the SecondScreen applications "in the field" with some good friends as we gathered around the large screen TV watching the Packers break our hearts during the NFL Playoffs and various actresses melt them as they took awards at Golden Globe Awards.

I started with DirecTV (will blog about the full experience soon) since my neighbor had it and loved their service.  He considers himself technically adept and after we downloaded the app, was surprised he had never heard of it (marketing problem again) because he instantly loved ALL of the features, especially the streaming within the home that he had just spent considerable time finding an alternate solution for.  While the app was very good for finding out which game was on and could tune the TV for you (very Simple though we had some trouble with that function),

it wasn't nearly as engaging graphically or with statistics as the NFL '11 app was.  Surprisingly, the ConnecTV app (just launched at CES), was a pretty engaging (Stimulating) as a Second Screen sports experience.

All of them were relatively limited in their Social ability.  ConnecTV was probably the most advanced with a decent "show" Twitter feed. None of them recognized your friends in Facebook as your friends in their app (despite asking for the credentials--arrgghh).

Finally, all of them also fell short on the Seamless and Discovery features.  So, hats off to NFL'11 for having great play-by-play graphics, stats, and information about the team and congrats to ConnecTV for coming out of the gate with a decent sports experience.

So then we moved on after our bitter defeat to the girls' favorite of the evening - the Golden Globe Awards.  I tried in vain to find a dedicated app (there was one last year for the Oscars that was pretty intense) and was even more frustrated when I found the E! On the Red Carpet app after the red carpet had ended (would have been good to test it).  This time I bounced around with my friends on the yap.TV app and ConnecTV.  I did briefly try to bounce into tvplus (really struggled to use it's ACR to recognize the show, which did nothing for us when it was successful), Umami (also an audio sync up-front requirement that was disappointing for all the "shhh-ing" going on), and Miso (I had forgotten you could only check-in and see what other shows are trending).

Here, the ConnecTV experience was pretty poor.  I think they had put all their effort into the playoffs and had left the awards show alone.  There was limited Stimulating Content (thought the syncing worked relatively effortlessly) and it kept repeating a stream of 5-7 factoids that had nothing to do with what was on the screen at the time (even the news links seemed canned and a week old).

 You'll notice the tweets on the right hand side had nothing to do with the show (shameless promoting to someone who had clearly already downloaded the app) and the "What's trending" was great if you were bored and wanted to know what everyone else was watching.  They did manage to squeeze an add in (not seen very often YET) in a relatively unobtrusive manner.

yap.TV was much better for the Twitter integration (capturing what looked to be a semi-curated feed on the show in general) and allowing you to toggle back and forth between a "out in the wild" Twitter feed and the official GoldenGlobes feed (which allowed you to see exactly who won what without any clutter).

 Unfortunately, that is where it ended for yap.TV.  The polls section was left relatively untouched during the show and they did not offer much else except for a very glitzy opening image.
When I finally got Umami working, it did have an interesting Wikipedia link, but then again the rest of the app did fall extremely short.

None of the apps had anything in the way of Simple, Seamless or Discovery.  Stimulating was relatively weak considering what could have been presented.

So my take-aways:

1.  The average consumer is still a long ways from this being a behavior they understand.  I asked at the start of the day who knew what it was.  None did.  I explained it.  All of them said they'd never use a second screen--yet during the shows all of them grabbed their phones and tablets at various times to look something up (not always related to the show).

2.  The app developers continue to have a long ways to go to achieve an app that provides the user with better control of the first screen (Simple), strong integration with their friends (Social), integration of multiple sources of content (Seamless), an engaging experience (Stimulating) and the ability to find new and interesting content (Discovery).

Hang in there everyone and back away from that window ledge.  In 1995, my then-girlfriend (now wife) told me the Mosaic browser was too slow and too ill-featured to ever catch on as well.  There are too many good reasons (200B of them) to spend the time and money to get these experiences right.

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