The ABC Oscars Backstage App provided some interesting behind the scenes views of the live action. However, the long delay behind the live broadcast made it problematic to use either standalone, or as a companion app.
The app provided 4 synchronized streams as the core experience: live feed of the broadcast, the Directors Cut, Backstage, and Neil Patrick Harris Prediction Cam. All of these views seemed to be synchronized on each of the devices I was using, although a user could not pause any of the feeds live video feeds during the broadcast. The live stream was available to view by all, without logging in to the app.
The Directors Cut provided interviews with the winners just after they had left the stage. Backstage showed actors posing with their awards and various audience views. The NPH Predication Cam showed an oblique view of the stage and was the least interesting of the four.
The PC and mobile apps included a feature called “Social Lens” which integrated Facebook and Twitter directly into the app.
Unfortunately, the streams were at least 50 seconds behind the live broadcast, and in some cases as much as 1 minute 42 seconds. With a delay as long as this, it caused the app to fail on two levels. Using the app while monitoring a social feed would be rife with spoilers, ruining any suspense. This was even true with the “social lens” feature in the app.
Attempting to use the app as a companion to the live broadcast was also frustrating. Waiting for an interview with a favorite star after they had won an award took a long time, and inevitably clashed with the live action.
Switching between views was a slow, cumbersome process. Initiating any of the streams in full screen took up to 8 seconds, and switching to a different stream took at least 16 seconds.
The best way to use the app was as a standalone experience, away from a live television feed and social media. Realistically, very few people would be interested in watching in this way. I found it interesting to have the “Directors Cut” permanently open to allow me catch an interview with a recent winner. Several times I wanted to pause the feed to allow me to watch the live action, but that feature was not provided.
I used an Asus S7 touchscreen laptop, a Nexus 7 tablet and Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone to test the app during the live broadcast.
Why it matters
Leveraging the Internet to enhance a live television event is a great way to increase engagement.
Reaching new audiences with a free live stream of an event is a great way to bring audiences that have drifted away from TV back to the experience.
The Oscars app fell short in both departments.