nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Why the Syfy and LG sync TV content partnership is worth doing

Syfy Defiance

Syfy and LG announced that viewers of season 3 of Defiance will be able to get synchronized bonus content on their smart TV. This sync TV content, either on the primary or secondary screen, seems to have fallen out of favor lately. Here’s why it is still worth doing.

Syfy ad LG Electronics announced that they have launched new interactive functionality on LG connected TV that will bring show trivia, quizzes and backstory information to viewers of season 3 of Defiance. The approach includes automatic content recognition (ACR) technology from Cognitive Networks and scheduling and delivery functionality from Watchwith.

The sync-content approach has rather fallen out of favor in the last year or so. Speaking at the TV Connect show in London earlier this year Jason Forbes, head of Beamly, took a big step back from the synchronized content approach. This is something Beamly (and its predecessor Zeebox) pioneered, but now the company is focusing on the conversation before and after the shows, not during the broadcast. Mr. Forbes said for the vast majority of content it was just not worth the expense of producing and delivering the bonus content as consumers normally want to focus entirely on the show.

Certainly the bonus content has a limited appeal. According to Digitalsmiths, Syfy’s sync app has been downloaded by so few users it isn’t even ranked in the top 20 TV Network apps. On the occasions I have used Syfy’s synced content it has been very clear from the comments posted that it was primarily the rabid fans that were engaging with the bonus content. Notwithstanding, consumers do love to opine on what they are watching while the action is going on. Nielsen says 64% of tweets about a TV drama occur during the live broadcast.

So, is the bonus content worth doing or not? I think it is worth doing, and here’s why.

Last season, Defiance was getting a 0.4 rating in the 18-49 age group. In August 2014 around 1.4M people were watching the show. Certainly not terrible ratings, but not lighting any fires either. Perhaps the bonus content can help boost the show’s ratings by stimulating people to post about it while they are watching? This approach has been used in the past to great effect. USA Network, under Jesse Redniss’ leadership, encouraged viewers to post and tweet about shows like Psych by providing great quotes from the show’s characters in the bonus content, and making it easy to post the quote through social media. This approach could help Defiance grow its audience.

If just 5% of the show’s audience engages with the bonus content through connected TVs and devices, and posts on Facebook about it, that will generate 70,000 posts. Since the average Facebook user has 338 friends, the message will potentially be seen by an audience of 24 million.* Of course, there is a lot of duplication in viewing these posts, but this activity helps generate a buzz, and buzz builds audience.

Defiance is a good show that would probably be watched by more people if they knew about it. Perhaps the bonus content can help get the word out, and help it grow a bigger audience.

Why it matters

Bonus and second screen content has been getting negative attention lately.

Sync content defectors like Beamly say it is not worth the effort, and that it is better to focus on the social conversation around the content.

Though bonus content may only reach a small rabid few, social’s multiplicative effect can give that group a very loud voice. This should help a show grow its audience.

* According to Facebook the average user has 338 friends

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