I’m at the Mint Digital 2-Screen event at Hoxton Hall in east London as part of London Digital Week.  And I’m liveblogging the event in this post. The discussion is going to be looking at cross platform behaviours of young people, and a panel of experts is considering how traditional and new media producers may take advantage of this phenomenon.

Keep refreshing this page for updates…

19:05 Everyone is milling outside this gorgeous old theatre before the start of the event.  I’ll update again once we’re all settled and the discussion is beginning.

19:10 The speakers of the event are gethering at the back of the theatre.  We have Cathy Rogers, Adam Gee, Gerred Blyth, Noam Sohachevsky and Tom McDonnell. (Full details of these folk are on the 2Screen site.)

19:20 The stage crew are trying to resolve a sound issue before letting everyone in.

19:27 The masses have filled the hall in moments.  What a motley but still rather stylish crew of geeks with drinks 🙂

19:35 Cathy notes that the discussion tonight is designing for 2 screens.  How can we think in advance of the broadcast signal?  What do we need to do in setting up a creative and productive community to be compelling?

19:38 Gerred goes in to the background of the Lighthouse Expetrience consultancy and the research programmes he’s done watching people in their homes, in terms of their consumption of media.

[JJ’s comment: Gerred could have used some of the kit we had at the Interactive TV Research Institute.]

19:40 Gerred notes that in his research he’s noted that some people prefer not to use a laptop in their living room but instead engage with 2Screen media through thier mobile phone.  Seems to be a distinct difference betwee those who will use their laptop during watching tv and those who find the very concept repugnant.

19:44 Gerred distinguishes between users and viewers and then comes up with another neologism: the ‘viewser’.  But long before the internet and social media, people had already been on the phone and watched tv programmes remotely but simultaneously.  There have also been printed books that have gone with television programmes – particularly in cooking programmes.

19:46 There are apparently four things that incite online activity: Prompts (eg: link in an advertisement, music heard in a programme etc), Conversation (msn, twitter, skype etc), Programme support (episode guides, character summaries, reviews, etc) or general support (electronic programme guides), and Enhanced viewing (second screen content such as predictors, games, real time data, and so on).

19:52 Noam comes to the stage to talk about flow and the 2screen experience.  He begins by describing the 2screen experience as a single consumption activity; even though the media are separated, the experience is still combined.

19:54 Noam cites 9 factors of flow: clear goals, direct and immediate feedback, personal control, balance ability and challenge, concentration and focus, loss of the feeling of self, distorted sense of time, activity is intrinsically rewarding, action awareness merges.

19:58 Noam believes if we focus on the design interface we can achieve that sense of flow.

20:00 Noam shows a video of backchannel.  Noam says he thinks the interface for backchannel is useful because it makes it clear what is expected of participants.

20:03 Noam demonstrates the use of a Mint digital product to align with sports programming as a mechanism of providing direct and immediate feedback.  He notes also that in public events or constructed debate, twitter is often used as a mechanism for engaging and responding or posing ideas.

[JJ’s coment – like what Amplified have tried to do with Reuters on occasion.]

Noam says twitter often feels like noise unless you’re a skilled user.

20:07 Noam focuses on poker sites as an example of a useful articulation of personal control.  Collectively these examples describe different ways of manipulating the environment where 2screen engagement could be seen as inducing flow.

20:10 Noam concludes his presentation by presenting a series of different examples of how these environment factors could be used in debates, in drama watching, and in competition oriented programming.  Need to also think about programme patterns, and how the ‘other screens’ can fit around these patterns as well as to ensure meaning for viewers.

20:15 Adam Gee comes on stage to talk about cross-platform offerings at Channel 4. He talks about a microblogging + tv experiment at Channel 4 with Surgery Live.

20:17 Live tv was used in Surgery Live in order to enable the chat to impact on the editorial.  There was a 2 minute delay, but this was just to give the programme a buffer for any errors. Adam says that unlike a previous BBCradio + twitter experiment (which was egg-head-y and needed to be listened to deeply) this was a lighter approach – regardless of the subject area – so it was easier to engage with twitter during the programme.

20:20 Adam goes through the varying ways that staff engaed with the twitter channel – choosing questions, getting resources and engaging with viewers. Alongside the programme, there was a website whcih was used to editorialise the twitter content as well as to anser questions and provide additional resources (experts and relevant experience content) to enhance the consumption of the programme.

20:23 Adam notes that the programme also enabled email and facebook questioning but twitter was most successful.  It was successful because it was open and shared.  But as such it was also a means of develping technological literacy among those who perhaps had not engaged with twitter before.

20:24 Facebook was useful as a free fan channel and enabled an asynchronous conversation to emerge.  After the first show, the popularity grew and by the second programme, #slive had trended at the #2 position and by the third programme it was a top trending topic.

20:28 Tom McDonnell mounts the stage.  He begins by noting the dual screen experience was the reason why his agency was set up.  The Apprentice Predictor is the project Monterosa created, and he notes he may have done things differently now.  He instead focuses on the LivingTv 2screen product for 4 Weddings. The twitter-esque comment forum used on the site was sensationally successful.  They got thousands of thousands of comments.

20:33 Why should you create a 2screen experience at all? Tom answers this by using a 2-response game with a £100 prize – live audience interaction! (All stand and the game begins.)

After a bunch of questions, we’re down to just 3 people who agree with Tom’s judgements. And finally we have a winner!

20:39 Tom notes the collective experience is simply more fun than an individual ‘red button’ experience.  The technology isn’t necessarily new, but it does encourage interaction more than siloed participation.  And word of mouth encourages greater audiences.

20:42 in survey responses on the 4 Weddings Live site, 84% of respondents were more likely to watch online with the backchannel, and the overwhelming majority felt it enhanced the experienced.  51% thought more positively about the channe after playing the game.

20:45 We take a short break before question time.

20:50 We are back and asking questions of the panel.

QUESTION: Does the panel think we can have a true symbiosis of web and tv without live tv?

ANSWER: Adam says it’s not a prerequisite but it leads to a more satisfying experience if it’s a live programme, particularly if you can have an effect on the editorial.  Cathy notes that the backchannel discussion can enhance a programming without altering the actual broadcast.  The collective experince itself changes the way you respond.  Tom says there are opportunities to use 2screen for delayed programming.

QUESTION: Interested in the broadcast value of broadcast television.  How does what C4 are doing relate to the cultural value?  And what are the kinds of things we’d like to see in terms of device interaction?  How do we connect the tv and the 2nd screen more intuitively?

ANSWER: Adam says C4 does 2screen tv to inspire change, and for educative and innovative programming.  Gerred says that the research they have done is on the devices they have.  But absolutely there is a movement to handheld devices.  Nico McDonald says that a general channel is perhaps less engaging in debate than a selective channel of users he likes.  Noam says there’s something weird about using a tranckpad to navigate around the screen and he feels that touchscreen will make engagement more entertaining.  Design of screen real estate becomes difficult when you have a bunch of things going on at once in 2screen experiences.  Maybe it’s more useful to blend the technologies we have rather than trying to shift behaviour.

QUESTION: Who are you aiming your 2screen expeirnce at?

ANSWER: Adam says he takes the tv audience as a starting point – not trying to expand the audience but rather trying to get theminvolved in other media.  Tom says that demographic strategy might be nice but more often than not it’s still experimental so no true target audience. If it turns out that we’re only attracting middle class white audiences, then it may not be worth pursuing down the track.  But in the meantime we need at least to test.

QUESTION: Is it 80/20 in favour of laptop or mobile in use of tech?  Is there something we can do to enrich lone comedy watching?

ANSWER: Tom says he thinks the tech favour is a timing thing.  When using the phone becomes easier and an app feels comfortable, then maybe the phone will become more popular.  While there’s growth in phones though, laptops are still the most popular.

QUESTION: Broadcast TV isn’t dying but it is less important in a 2screen environment.  How will you make money from the web when you’re not making money on TV?

ANSWER: Should note that more people are watching TV than ever, because they are watching more channels.  Tom says there are loads of ways to make money. Advertising and ppc as well as pay per action is very easy when you are already doing other things that involve text entry and clicking.  Spikes in business traffic can occur through simply viral and wildly successful campaigns (eg: Compare the Meercat). People are already buying stuff online.  You can tap into that behaviour through provision of merchandise and products around or related to programming.

[JJ’s note: how about making money through scarcity – through selling live experiences related to the programme, making stars of the co-creators in the back-channel?]

Noam is skeptical aboout how flexible the tv experience can be, so while it may be possible for the web to be the primary screen and tv to become the secondary screen, it just fits better to interact via the web rather than using TV as a backchannel.  Gerred says: tv is temporal, the web is spatial.

We’re finishing up here.  Thanks for joining us and thanks to Mint for hosting 2-Screen tonight.

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