To Enhance, Not Distract, on the Second Screen

7 Mar

A few days ago, the following question was posed at TVnext, to a panel on the second screen: “Do you think we’re asking too much out of our audience?” The answer, of course, is “no.” TV watchers started using the second screen long before television-specific experiences were being developed. The most important thing is for complementary content to enhance the viewing experience, as opposed to distracting from it. Content that is enhancing to one person may be distracting to the next however, so the following study uses a purely democratic method – observing viewing trends to derive the overall success of SideShow cards, working under the hypothesis that increased views is an indication of enhancing content.

The most apparent trend is the increased views of cards with links in them. The audience takes note of interesting supplemental material and follows up on them when they have the opportunity to delve into it (e.g. waiting for commercials to view a video). The following are the best practices for using cards with links to maximize views, whether you’re making a SideShow as a fan or on behalf of the show itself.

Info = Views

In dramas and more serialized television shows, actor info cards (with a link to IMDb or Wikipedia) are consistently revisited, which causes spikes in card views. In fact, cards like the following examples can increase views by 10%!

Transmedia Comedy

In comedies and more episodic shows, links still cause increased views, but guest star and cast info cards are far less appealing. Instead, the largest spikes in views are caused by links that explain or add to a on-screen joke, or make an entirely new one. The following cards had ~5% more views than its neighbors.

Source Matters

There is an addendum to the previous view trends, however. In both types of shows, the spike in views caused by cards with links is the greatest in the official, network-produced SideShows. It seems that the reputability of the SideShow source makes the links all the more compelling, whether their “official” designation makes them close to canon, or just of perceived higher quality by default. In the examples throughout this article, the cards on the left were provided by the network, and the cards on the right are fan-made – did the links on the cards on the left seem more alluring to you?

This trend is by no means a rule, however. Fan-created SideShows generally experience less of a view bump from links, but with the right lead-in or link text, they can see comparable or superior numbers:

LEFT: Network SideShow, 7.7% view increase. RIGHT: Fan-Created SideShow, 8% view increase

Tips to Link Your Way to Views

  • For dramas, provide links to more information on the cast and guest stars.
  • Comedy fans like jokes to be extended from their first screen to their second screen.
  • Whether you’re a network or a fan, entice the audience into your link with a hook.

We hope you enjoyed our study on findings by views for scripted TV SideShows. Join us at Miso as we explore the vast opportunities of second screen content. Until next time, happy creating!


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