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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!


February’s Top Shows on Miso!

1 Mar

With February now a thing of the past, we looked back to find the most popular shows for Miso users.  Let’s count down the most checked-in shows for the month February!

Continue reading

Scripting the Best Predictions for Scripted TV

7 Feb

With Miso SideShows, we’re creating a place for fans to comment with their shows tagged to the exact moment of what they want to talk about. No more spoilers, no more lost discussions.

After publishing our breakthrough study on the second-screen space last year, we launched the SideShow platform in September 2011, so fans could enjoy an improved way to socialize and share around the television programs they watch. This sort of experience had never been done before, so Miso was venturing into uncharted grounds. Now that we’re a little older and a little wiser, we’d like to share with you some of our findings regarding what makes the most successful SideShow content.

One of the things we expected is that fans would love the opportunity to predict what comes next – no longer would they reduce themselves to shouting at their TV set. Most of the time, we were proved right: fans loved voting on possible future outcomes and sharing their opinions about them. There are times, though, where prompts for predictions went eerily quiet. What caused the disparity in fan engagement between one prediction card and another? We’ve dove into SideShows created for serial dramas to see what makes fans want to lean forward and interact with scripted TV.

The Power of Pick Ems

Early in the platform, it became clear that Pick Em votes were the most common interaction, having the most amount of fun for the least amount of effort. What we didn’t expect, however, was that Pick Ems could also have some of the most comments and social shares, given the right situation. When Pick Ems offer a chance to predict an important future outcome without constraining the viewer into an overly-specific response, commenting and sharing went through the roof. These “Two-Part Pick Ems,” which explicitly ask for an answer and implicitly ask for an explanation, are the most successful type of card for prompting predictions from viewers.

You’ll notice that the answers to these Pick Ems from Dexter are actually pretty unspecific. They don’t over-explain any option or expect specific predictions, instead, they’re essentially a binary response. But by simply covering the spectrum of responses with Pick Em options, they offer the opportunity to elaborate. For example, instead of asking “What will happen to Quinn?” and giving answers that include a variety of scenarios, the card asks “Are Quinn’s days at Miami Metro Homicide numbered?”, which identifies the specific dramatic tension that is prompting the question to begin with, molds it into a yes or no question, and then invites speculation as to how or why.

The fluidity of these second level interactions is what makes these Pick Ems more effective than open-ended questions. Instead of prompting with an open-ended prediction question, or a Pick Em with pre-speculated choices, the Two-Part Pick Em provides simple answers while stimulating creative responses. They maintain the ease of the Pick Em format, while the increased investment of commenting leads to more sharing. As a result, Two-Part Pick Ems could be expected to receive 43% more votes and 36% more shares than a prediction Pick Em that provides specific answers.

Timing is Everything

The other important quality of a successful prediction card is when in an episode it occurs. What we found from serial dramas is that viewers prefer to predict about episodic plot arcs, which develop early in the episodes. Prediction Pick Ems occurring early in the exposition and rising action of an episode, like this example from The Walking Dead, receive four times as many votes and shares than those during the climax or resolution.

The importance of this contextual factor leads to several content-related questions. For one, if viewers prefer prediction cards earlier in an episode, does that mean they prefer to predict episode plot arcs as opposed to episode-ending cliffhangers? Not necessarily. Prediction cards regarding serial/season plot arcs that occur at the end of an episode can be very successful. However, after the climax and resolution, at the end of an episode, the most important card to include is a place to give the viewers the opportunity to leave reactions. In fact, open-ended cliffhanger prediction cards often turn into reactions, completely ignoring the question!

Care About All The Characters

Finally, we hypothesized that fans would care more about predicting the fate of the main characters and of the central plot, than of auxiliary characters and insignificant subplots, but were surprised to discover that prediction Pick Ems that regarded the central plot and characters were nearly indiscernible from the rest. That is to say, when it comes to prediction Pick Ems, viewers are not picky.

Take these cards from Dexter. We believed that the most successful Pick Ems would be about the A-plot, Dexter hunting Travis. After all, if you were chatting about the show at the water-cooler, more likely than not, you would share your predictions about the primary plot. Yet prediction Pick Ems regarding Quinn and Batistas’ office conflict, or Deb, LaGuerta, and Matthews’ power struggles, all got comparable interactions and shares. That means the success of prediction cards is not determined by what they ask, but how they ask it.

The Three Tips for Prediction Pick Ems

  • The best practice for implementing prediction cards is to identify the dramatic element that is being predicted about, and form a Pick Em question in a way that can be answered with clear, simple choices.
  • Ask for predictions early in an episode, and offer places to share reactions at the end.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask about any part of the story!

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

January’s Top Shows on Miso!

1 Feb

With the first month of 2012 in the books, we looked back to see what topped Miso’s charts. Count down the most checked-in TV shows with us!

10. Coming in at #10 is the veteran medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, which is in the midst of its eighth season. There will be at least one more season of Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh & Co., so expect more appointments with Grey’s Anatomy in our top ten in the future.
9. Dexter, our favorite serial killing vigilante, is Miso’s 9th-most checked-in show of January, despite wrapping its sixth season in December, 2011. Maybe everyone was just a bit behind on their DVRs, or everyone wanted to relive the debut of the SideShow experience. Either way, Season 7 can’t come soon enough.
8. It’s great to see Chuck crack the top 10, considering the often-underrated show aired its final five episodes this month. Farewell, Intersect.
7. Modern Family takes #7 for January. After a virtual sweep of the comedy Emmys last fall, the third season has tried to keep that momentum going.
6. Once Upon a Time remains a Miso favorite, echoing the notion that the series’s first season has won the 2011 Fairy Tale genre competition. Once Upon a Time is the only freshman series to climb into the top 10 after the holiday hiatus, with Fall starts Revenge (#14), American Horror Story (#16), New Girl (#19), 2 Broke Girls (#26), and Homeland (#27) close behind.
5. Alcatraz made a huge splash with its series debut. After four episodes, the series shot up to the #5 most checked-into show of January. Its pilot was the most checked-into episode of the month, and “Ernest Cobb,” the second episode of the two-hour double debut, retained much of the pilot’s audience, making it the fourth most watched episode of the month.
4. Our international viewers flexed their check-in muscles, shooting the BBC airing of Sherlock to the #4 spot for the month. The season debut episode “A Scandal in Belgravia” peaks at Miso’s 7th most watched episode of January. The acclaimed miniseries will likely spike again when the second season re-airs for US audiences on PBS later in the year.
3. America’s underdog primetime sci-fi series Fringe defied its Friday timeslot and lagging Nielsen ratings by taking the 3rd-most checked-in show of January. Its episodes “Back to Where You’ve Never Been” and “Enemy of My Enemy” are the #8 and #10 most-watched episodes of January, respectively. Its future hangs in the balance, but for now, Fringe can bask in its loyal Miso viewership.
2. The nostalgic comedy How I Met Your Mother takes show #2 of January and the 5th (“Tailgate“) and 9th (“46 Minutes“) most-watched episodes of January. Bittersweet news for HIMYM fans – the better the show does, the longer it’ll be until we find out who Ted settles down with. Just sayin’…
1. CBS’s juggernaut comedy from Chuck Lorre – no, not Two and a Half Men, we’re talking about The Big Bang Theory – takes the top spot as Miso’s most-watched series of January. BBT celebrated its 100th episode at the #3 most-watched episode of January (“The Recombination Hypothesis“), with “The Shiny Trinket Maneuver” at #2 and “The Beta Test Initiation” at #5.

Here’s what else was hot on Miso in January:

Top Movies of January:

Top TV Events of January:

Top Past Shows of January:

SideShow Playbook: The Fundamental Five

24 Jan

Want to start creating a Miso SideShow but just don’t know where to start? We’ll be sharing a series of posts to give you tricks of the SideShow trade called the SideShow Playbook! Introducing the very first post:

The Fundamental Five: 5 no-fail ways to making a great SideShow!

1. Social and shareable quotes! 

People love sharing quotes from their favorite TV shows, but what quotes get the most shares? How about something that makes you laugh or inspires you. Here’s a rule of thumb: add quotes that people would want to share to Facebook and Twitter. The best quotes get the discussion started!

2. New face on screen? Tag the actor or actress profile on IMDb!

How many times have you watched someone on screen and forget where else you’ve seen them from? Make it easy to find out what other TV shows or movies the actor or actress has been in on your SideShow. Adding an additional fun fact is also recommended… because who wouldn’t want to know more about that hot guest star? 🙂

3. Share Music! 

You’re watching the new episode House M.D. and hear a great song. Here’s your chance to easily tag the track name and artist for fans to discover! Most importantly, provide a link to the song on Spotify, iTunes or YouTube so people can listen or buy!

4. Cliffhangers are great opportunities to ask a question! 

In any given episode, there are moments when the plot thickens and everyone is speculating something. Who do you think is the killer? Should Robin and Barney date again?

It’s your moment to ask a question! With a SideShow, you have two options:

  • Polls: best when there are clear options to choose from and the easiest way for fans to share their opinion
  • Open-ended: great for making predictions, especially at the end of an act break or episode

5. Explain the Reference

Did they just mention something outside of common knowledge? Share a quick explanation and link to an article or site to learn more. Whether it the medical term of the week, an offhand mention of obscure trivia or a parody, educate your viewer with a card sharing your knowledge!

Ready to create your own SideShow channel? Sign-up here to get started!
Special thanks to MattLizAlineRobNola, and Meghan for creating these awesome cards!

New Updates for Miso at CES 2012

11 Jan

2012 is already off to a great start! We’re excited to announce a new partner in the tech and entertainment industry: Audible Magic, a pioneer in audio content recognition services.

With Audible Magic’s digital fingerprinting technology, Miso will be able to identify live, never-before-seen content on TV as it airs. Adding frame-specific automated content recognition to Miso’s flexible platform expands the ways we can deliver a true synchronized content experience to every TV viewer, and we can’t wait to have it available and ready for use in our iPhone app in the near future. You can find out more information here.

If you’re attending CES 2012, come check out a live demonstration of a prototype of the Miso and the Audible Magic TViD service for yourself. Stop by the Audible Magic booth (73507) in the Bellini Ballroom, on the second floor of the Venetian.

We’re excited as we enter the new era of television, and hope you are too! If you haven’t already, download our free app in the iTunes store.

See you at the show!

New Badge Alert!

22 Apr

Looking to earn more badges? Well look no further! We’ve got some fun new badges that could fit your TV watching habits 😉

Here are a few hints to help you snag these badges:

  • Office Party: It’s always a party at these offices! 
  • Cat Fight: These purrr-fect ladies are bound to leave you with a couple claw scratches!
  • Good Bad GuyConnect with your “bad self” by doing something good.
Check-in and cheers, Misoers!

Music To Our Ears!

12 Apr

Hey Music Lovers, Miso and FilmBuff are harmonizing to bring you a medley of choice films this month! Check out these music-themed movies on Cable on Demand and iTunes. They are guaranteed to move you:

Be sure to check-in on Miso to prove you’re a devotee, and you could earn this euphonious badge!

For Miso fans in New York, catch a live screening of This Movie is Broken on April 25th, 7pm at reRun Gastropub Theater, and you could snag a hip Miso Tee! The film will be followed by a brief Q&A with the film production team.

2 Truths and 1 Lie, Miso Edition!

11 Apr

Hey Misoers! Now that we’ve introduced ourselves in our Meet the Miso Team video, we have a fun challenge for you! Every Monday we’ll be releasing a new video on our Facebook page where one Miso team member will tell you 2 Truths and 1 Lie about themselves.

Guess which one the lie is in the video comments on Facebook and we’ll randomly select a winner the following Monday. That lucky fan will win a snazzy Miso t-shirt and Miso sticker for their lie detecting abilities. 😉


  • Your guess must be a comment to the original video post on Facebook
  • You must make your guess by the following Monday of the original post at 12 noon PST

Miso iPhone Update: Ratings, Push Notifications & More!

7 Apr

What’s New in Miso for iPhone?

  • Updated design. Check out new episode pages, posters, and synopses.
  • Ratings. Give episode and movies a rating of 1 to 5 stars.
  • Push notifications. Get notified of new comments, follows, and friend check-ins.
  • Following is now Favorites. Tap the heart icon to add a show to your custom favorites list!

Watch the video: 

Download it in the app store today and don’t forget to rate the new version!

Happy watching!