Second Screen Gets Deconstructed at Social TV Panel


If you’ve heard the term “second screen” but weren’t entirely sure what it meant, then Offerpop’s panel on the Rise of Social TV would have answered your questions.




Social TV is a recent phenomenon that has grown to a point where it can’t be ignored any longer. In 2012, social activity around the Grammy’s grew over 3000% and marketing research firm ACNeilsen now measures social activity when studying the viability and potential of television shows. And in case you were wondering which show gets the most social interactions per episode, it isn’t Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones – Spongebob Squarepants left everyone in the dust, with about 80,000 interactions.

Present to discuss everything related to the technology that supports interaction around television viewing were executives from Viacom’s LGBT Logo TV, HuffPost Live and Lost Remote.

Mark Cooper, co-founder of Offerpop, kicked things off by asking the panel what second screen was for them. Lost Remote’s Natan Edelsburg replied that it was things like live streaming of events, like the recent MTV VMAs, where it’s more about the content than the technology involved. For Shawn Hollenbach and Alex Petronico from Logo TV, it was the social and digital pre- and post-shows the channel did for the popular RuPaul’s Drag Race. “We launch entire episodes a week earlier on Facebook so that the really dedicated fans who liked our page can get early access,” Hollenbach said. There is also an online show after the week’s episode where a judge interviews the recently cast off contestant.

At Huffpost Live, Mat Yurow said, readers have access to the programming schedule 24-48 hours in advance. Using the site’s army of screeners, video comments left by readers are perused to find suitable questions for the guest, and they even have some of the readers “sit in” as audience members and ask questions during the livestream.

On to the topic of emerging platforms that audiences use to share their TV show obsessions, while Facebook and Google+ are the common outlets, Tumblr seems to have taken most by surprise. Edelsburg shared how HBO had noticed the growing Game of Thrones fan art on various Tumblrs and created fan art exhibits around the world. Many shows, like RuPaul’s, also use animated GIFs, which are very popular with fans.

To get the viewers involved beyond simply commenting and sharing clips or exclusives, the RuPaul show recently asked fans to take to the runway and upload videos to the show’s page. The show’s team would then select a handful, air them on TV and ask fans to vote for their favorites. “At HuffPost, we don’t have the usual CNN/MSNBC experts. We get community speakers and upload segments on Instagram to reach more people,” Yurow said.

Obviously the conversation circled around to the all-important advertisers and how they fit into the Social TV landscape.  “At Logo TV,” Hollenbach said, “we have a long-standing partnership with Absolut Vodka. There are games where users have to find the drag queen’s crown and it incorporates the Absolut brand quite openly into the plot.” Petronico talked about how event sponsors sometimes ask for branded hashtags, allowing for easier identification on Twitter. While talking about the early stages of the Shorty Awards that honor the best content producers in social media, Edelsburg said that, on Twitter, users were given the option to follow the brand they’d just tweeted a vote for.

When asked about the value of social interactions and incorporating ideas from users, Yurow said that HuffPost is constantly iterating based on viewer and reader feedback, and that their comments inform the company’s programming decisions. Petronico said that with television, there was a bit of a gray area with regard to copyrights. “Viewers are welcome to send in their ideas through the standard process,” she said, “but we can’t crowdsource ideas, because people might sue us if they feel they haven’t been compensated properly.”

While crowdsourcing might not be an option, Logo TV still listens to their fans to see what does and does not work: it was one of Hollenbach’s best practices suggestions. Petronico added that companies should also make “strategic use of different platforms to get a clear message across to fans.” Edelsburg suggested that a smart way to use social media for promotion is to get a famous or interesting person to be the company’s voice for a day, like A&E did recently when they had the cast of Duck Dynasty take over their social media before the show’s season premier. For Yurow, social media is all about adding value and driving engagement by giving the viewers reasons to engage.

Still, this is an area that is clearly just evolving. Stay tuned for a lot more to come.

For full coverage of tech events in New York, visit The Watch.

About the author: Kamakshi Ayyar

Kamakshi Ayyar is a freelance journalist based in New York. She studied law at Mumbai University, India and received her Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University. She has written for Business India, Roosevelt Island’s Main Street Wire and The Villager.

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