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Second screens bring a new perspective

Duelbox is banking on changing the perspective of second screen interactivity but would this impact the user experience to the extent where we see a new tipping point for viewership?

At IBC Show in September Duelbox announced the launch of its revolutionary SaaS second screen solution as a disruptive new tech for TVs.

Already known for offering entertaining software for events, the award-winning cloud-based technology company aims to deliver a wide perspective of interactive solutions from live games, polls, to interactive marketing campaigns.

According to viewing data the company has managed to increase the viewership of Discovery Channel by over 25%, and sees its progress as the beginning of the new era of live broadcast interactive television.

In this instance, TV viewers were able to search for virtual gold nuggets on Discovery Channel to win millions of Hungarian Forints live during prime time shows on Discovery Channel followed by a TV archive service being made available for the next day until 8pm.

Whether Duelbox provided a TV experience on the second screen and simultaneously took into account the content on the main TV, the viewing experience does not automatically guarantee a high level of interactivity from consumers. Basapur et al. (2012) indicates that the second screen experience is only positive when the additional media are in sync with the TV show.

Attention is a key concept for the design of second screen applications here that are to be used while watching television (TV). Since the DuelBox system replaced the old-fashioned text sending structure with interactivity and integrated seamlessly with existing technologies interactivity has clearly increased but to what extent and over what period of time for each TV show.

I spoke to Colin Dixon, Founder and Chief Analyst of nScreenMedia, a California based company which tracks the evolution of media distribution. Dixon commented:  “Data in the U.S. from USA channels suggest interactivity engages hardcore fans more deeply. And yes, it needs to be in-sync with what's happening on the TV at the time. However, I haven't seen any data suggesting it increases the number of viewers significantly.”

With these new technologies we still don’t know how best to balance of the user's attention between the second screen application and the TV content.

The primary and secondary screens ought to give the user the feeling of having a holistic (and synchronized) experience to be effective when using the TV screen together with a second screen application. Investigating the varying degrees of interactivity further to gain a deeper understanding of the attention levels achieved would be the next step in assessing impact on viewership. It is also important to understand how visual attention can affect memory in the design of TV user interfaces and second screen applications.

In currently employed systems disadvantages exist that relate to the systems being TV-centric and difficult for users to easily access through mobile applications. Bridging broadcast and internet service architectures can be technically challenging. Hybridcast and HbbTV have provided companion screen services to extend cross-device services between TVs and smartphones.

On the Hungarian ATV, so far, Duelbox Second Screen is used on magazine shows like Heti napló (means: Weekly diary) and A nap híre (means: The news of the Day) weekly to great effect. All that remains is to ask the audience what they remember from the previous Weekly diary broadcast and we will have our answer on future tipping points.

Unlike in the creation of interactive episodes typical in video games which don’t work well for TV per se, the way that content is enhanced on the second screen seems critical to user acceptance and will largely depend on what level of immersion is ultimately offered by storytellers.

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