K7 Media

K7 Media

The Rise of the Sofa Contestant

How often have you found yourself watching a game show, yelling answers out to the contestant on-screen?

Well nowadays, ‘Playalong’ apps allow viewers to experience game shows as if they were a contestant, from the comfort of their sofa. They can answer questions in sync with the show and share their scores on social networks. If they want to make the step from sofa to studio contestant, many apps will also give them exclusive access to the application process, too.

One of the first, and most discussed, Playalong apps was for Endemol’s Million Pound Drop Live. With over 4.5 million total online players and 1 million iOS and Android app downloads it’s a great example of how to get the second screen experience right.

Second screen users watch shows for longer, and  more likely to stay in the room during ad breaks.

Maverick TV and Mint Digital are collaborating to produce the “first Twitter Playalong game”, which will accompany David Mitchell’s in-development panel show for Channel 4, Was It Something I Said? Playing along via Twitter, viewers will be able to access bonus content throughout, such as funny pictures, further questions – all in perfect sync with the show.

Real-time viewer interaction is playing an increasingly important role in TV. A survey by Thinkbox found that second screen users watch shows for longer, and are more likely to stay in the living room during ad breaks.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that commercial broadcasters are encouraging viewers to use a second screen while they watch TV. Keen to capitalise on this trend, Channel 4 are about to launch an ‘always on’ second screen app, 4Now, which will provide the second screen experience across the channel’s output.

However, apps are expensive to produce and promote, and viewers can be reluctant to download apps that accompany particular shows or channels. Therefore many programmes are simply using Twitter, to engage with audiences. As one of the seven apps that most smartphone users have installed, it’s not difficult to see why programme makers are so keen to use the platform. As SecondSync recently stated, “the tweet has become the de facto currency of Social TV”.

So where next for social audience engagement? Apps like Viggle make watching TV literally more rewarding. Users earn points by “checking in” to TV broadcasts, and redeem them for real rewards from big name brands. The app has been downloaded over 2 million times already, with around 600,000 active users spending an average of one hour per day using the app.

As we begin to reward viewers for engaging with programmes, maybe a logical progression would allow game show ‘sofa contestants’ to compete and win real-world prizes whilst they play along at home?

Sandra Lehner