2-Screen 2011 notes

Last night I attended the 3rd 2-Screen event organized by Utku and the team at Mint Digital. I went last year and came away really inspired so was full of anticipation about last night’s event. Unfortunately the speakers were a bit mixed this year, but that said there were some interesting bits and I’ve compiled a little round up of some interesting links and points from each of the talks below.

Andy Hood – AKQA – talking about the Heineken Star Player app

Heineken Star Player is a play-along smartphone app for football, where users can ‘bet’ on what’s going to happen next in a football match (this was specifically made for the UEFA champions league). For example, you can predict if there’s going to be a goal in the next 30 seconds, or at certain points of the game, if the ball goes out for a corner, you can bet on what happens next. And as you go along you build up points. I really liked the look of this app, even as a consumer who has about as much interest in football as Richard Desmond has in nuns, and it actually made me want to watch a game of football to ‘play along’ with it. Quite a neat idea of augmenting live sport with play along ‘betting’ and game play. This article gives a nice summary of the app.

David Flynn – Remarkable productions – talking about the Million Pound Drop

The Million Pound Drop has been the flagship multiplatform success of this year, with Jody Smith and co winning countless awards and the play along stats speaking for themselves. David Flynn gave an interesting and different to the other talks I’ve seen perspective from the TV production side, of how they logistically managed the live play along game with real time feedback from the online play into the live broadcast. It’s all pretty simple stuff really, but interesting to see the process between the digital team moderating tweets and collecting data on game play and the production team on set. They created online interfaces to feed game play data and tweets to the production team for them to approve for airing within broadcast (as a ticker on screen and for Davina to announce).

I love the idea of feeding what is happening online into the broadcast and it’s something we’ve pushed for in some of the programmes we’ve worked with Channel 4 on. In reality we’ve been mostly suggesting this too late in the process, as really it needs to be fundamentally embedded into the design of the programme at the beginning of the commissioning process, which is clearly what happened with the Million Pound Drop. Now C4 are making great strides in really putting digital at the heart of their programmes from the beginning of creative with their recent call out to digital companies to pitch multiplatform TV formats.

Some bonus stats for the Million Pound Drop:

  • They’ve had 4.8million game plays in total
  • 189,000 unique individuals have played
  • 8.6% of the total audience played the game
  • During broadcast, they get on average 2.3million page views per week
Declan Caulfield – Starling

This talk was much anticipated as Starling has been around for a long while now with seemingly little activity or development. Declan came on stage saying ‘I’m here to give you an update on Starling’, which was promising, but unfortunately his talk left a lot of people scratching their heads (and kicking over bottles…). Unfortunately his talk wasn’t very well received by the audience. Maybe it was the heat in the room, or the appalling slideware (sorry), or the fact that most of the talk was the same as the one his colleague Kevin Slavin delivered last year at 2-Screen, but mostly I think it was the fact that without going into what Starling actually is and does, he kicked straight off into a lot of (quite obvious and old, for this audience) theory which left a lot of people who didn’t know about them very confused. Sorry Starling, and I really felt for you in the back channel, but come on!

The Almighty and Much Loved Russell Davies

This was what I was looking forward to most. I love Russell, and always find his perspectives refreshing. As he said himself, he wasn’t there to sell anything, hell, his own company would probably rather not be associated with what he might have so say in the talk, and, most wonderfully, he “really doesn’t get TV”.

Love it.

It was a typical RD talk, peppered with a lot of the questions and ‘internet of things’ type experimentations from his blog, but in summary here’s a few cool things that stood out or that I managed to note down in my notebook.*

  • Robot Flaneur – a robot that gives you tours of big cities around the world using Google street view
  • Winky Dink and You – a kids programme from the 1950’s which was probably the first example of interactive television.
  • That mind-blowing face changing video
  • The robot ball for cats – Sphero

His key points were that screens will become (and are already becoming) disposable, showing examples of offices using ‘spare’ screens for presenting the time, or office stereo data, and also talking about the decline in value of the hardware (as per this weeks Kindle announcements). His thought-provoking point was this – maybe it’s not about more screens, maybe it’s about real world objects, physicality… the internet of things. Real buttons to press. ‘Things’ that talk to the TV.

What simple things could we be designing to introduce a physical interaction with our audiences?

*(Interesting to note here, after spending most of the evening ‘second screening’ dividing my attention between the speakers, my iPhone and my note pad, during Russell’s talk I barely looked at my phone and struggled to write notes. This kind of engagement (engrossment) is something that could indicate success in a programme – if your audience isn’t tweeting much, but the barb rating is high, could this indicate they are gripped?)

And finally… the panel

I must admit I struggled to follow or pay attention to the panel at the end, which featured the speakers minus Russell. I had a real feeling that there were some super interesting people in the audience and that I’d already heard enough from these speakers, which gave me an idea: what if a final panel like that could be made up of people nominated from the audience? Just a thought.

Overall, still a really important event and great to catch up with some old faces and meet some new.

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