In February Fox announced that it was syndicating second screen experiences to third party app providers via the Watchwith cloud-based TV sync platform. Monday, USA announced that the company is also working with Watchwith to syndicate content to the second screen. As well, the company provided details of the very successful launch with the 100th episode of Psych, which was broadcast last week.
Using Watchwith, USA was able to extend more than 40 pieces of content into second screen apps during the Psych broadcast. Viewers were able to get trivia, participate in polls, view editorial commentary and much more. The bonus content was seen by 40,000 unique viewers. The 100th Psych episode drew an audience of 2.93M which means that about 1.4% of the audience engaged with the bonus content during the show. Though this might not seem like a lot, USA’s Jesse Redniss, SVP Digital, told me that very little promotion of the bonus content was done either on air or through digital platforms.
With minimal promotion for the second screen content, the people that found the content were likely the shows biggest fans. Providing them with bonus content on their preferred mobile platform allows them to easily share their experience through social media. This effectively increases the shows reach, drawing more people to the show and the bonus content. And the extra content certainly had a substantial impact: during the one hour show, fans spent about 13 minutes in their app of choice.
nScreenMedia’s new free report on second screen apps makes it clear that syndicating second screen content is a great strategy for broadcasters. Their apps alone simply don’t reach enough of the TV audience. For example, channel based apps comprise just 10% of all second screen TV app downloads. Mr. Redniss confirmed that many USA viewers are watching with their iPads and smartphones but preferred to use apps they were used to; like Viggle, Zeebox and Shazam. As Mr. Redniss put it, working with other apps can really help “amplify our reach.” According to the second screen report, he’s right. Shazam alone comprised 11% of second screen TV app downloads.
Mr. Redniss said that USA realized 18 months ago that they needed to find a way to get the bonus content into the apps that customers were using. At the time, there simply wasn’t a way to do it. So, the company partnered with Watchwith to create the Content API (application programming interface.) App developers use the Content API to build apps with the ability to deliver the bonus features a content provider makes available. This content can be provided synchronized with the broadcast of the show, which is how the Psych content was delivered last week.
Of course, extending a show’s reach has other benefits for USA. It allows the company to deliver “360 degree” packaging to advertisers. The company has been integrating product placement in shows for quite some time along with traditional video advertising. By syndicating content to the second screen, rather than a viewer being distracted from the ad by the app the second screen content can reinforce it. As well, syndicating the content provides much improved reach for the advertising. Zane Vella, Watchwith’s CEO and President, emphasized the significance in the announcement, saying “syndication equals scale for advertisers.”
For the future, USA plans to roll out the syndicated bonus content across many of its most popular shows, such as Suits and Royal Pains. As Mr. Redniss said, it allows the company to drive show affinity “24×7” rather than for just the 1 hour the show is being broadcast.