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Synchronous TV Viewing will Demand a New Creative Process

56% of us are surfing the web

while we watch TV


This summer Harris Interactive posted the results of a survey of US adults stating that 56% of us are surfing the web while we watch TV, and 40% of us are on social media sites while we watch our favorite programs. Some recent surveys suggest that for GenY viewers (13 – 31) the percentage is as high as 70%. For those of you, like me, who have a teen age daughter, you probably experience this phenomenon every day.


The broadcast industry is clearly aware of this trend. When we talk to our broadcast customers, they tell us that the fact that a viewer can be distracted by their laptop, smart phone, or tablet poses a series risk to their ability to retain their attention. In an industry where its all about the brand, and more dollars flow to the brand that attracts and keeps the most eyeballs, keeping the viewer within your property, whether it is your channel, website, or Facebook page, is essential.


We are seeing many new attempts at capitalizing not only on the second screen, but on the viewer’s desire to have the second screen experience link directly to the primary program. Take a look at ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy iPad app, which relies on the Nielsen Media-Synch technology to monitor where the viewer is in the primary program and present them with time sensitive secondary content relevant to the storyline. Or Disney’s second screen project to provide viewers of Bambi with the ability to explore related art work, paint a character, answer trivia questions, or play “spot what’s different” within a certain scene.


Advertisers are also paying close attention to the synchronous viewing trend, realizing that people are more inclined to purchase something as they experience it on the screen, such as when your favorite actress sports a new style of shoe, or your favorite actor speeds away in a new sports car (my apologies for the gender references).


Recently, Discovery Channel announced that it’s new series, Penn & Teller Tell a Lie, will use a real time second screen interactive application, stating that synchronous programming “opens up a whole set of new creative opportunities”. So how does synchronous viewing affect the creative process, the place where Avid has a key role?


Today, many of these synchronous experiences are developed after the fact. The program is completed and sent to the web team to create supplemental content and then tag that content to the existing show, matching content to the timeline. In this scenario, the primary program has no knowledge of the secondary content, and worse, the creative team for the primary show has no idea, and typically no input, into the secondary content creative experience.


In the future, this creative process has to change. Viewers don’t want trivia and chat rooms, but multi-dimensional stories with sub-plots and story branches…experiences that require changes to the creative process:



(1) Story Centric Creative Process: The synchronous secondary experience needs to be developed as part of the initial storyboarding process – with the secondary experience created by the same creative team that produces the primary content, at the same time. The timeline of the primary content will drive the secondary experience. It will not be an after thought.


(2) Creative teams will require universal access to all the same media assets that were used to create the primary content (and more). The stuff on the cutting room floor now becomes a valuable asset. The broadcaster’s infrastructure must include asset management solutions that allow for shared access to media elements during post-production.


(3) Creation tools must allow the creative teams to develop content independent of the platform on which it is displayed, creating a short video for the iPAD at the same time they create a scene for the TV episode. This also means that the tools must allow for the easy transition from a timeline centric world (On-Air TV) to a layout centric world (smart phone / tablet) without any disruption to the creative process.



The broadcasters that we talk to every day continue to struggle with addressing the Multi-Platform Distribution (MPD) opportunity. How to get content repurposed, reformatted, re-edited, to display on your smart phone, iPAD, or laptop. Many of them are still struggling with the necessary infrastructure to enable a seamless MPD process. The market is now adding to this complexity by asking that these other platforms link to the primary experience, thus adding another level of complexity. The future of the creative process, the area where Avid spends all of its cycles, will also have to change, with new tools that allow the story-teller the ability to tell a deeper tale, supported with infrastructure that allows for fast and easy access to multiple media elements.


The convergence of web and on-air is just around the corner. Who is ready?



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About Richard Gianattasio

In my role on the Avid Market Solutions team, I analyze market trends and requirements specific to the broadcast market, and define the long term strategies and solutions required for success in this segment. My focus includes studying the changing requirements for the broadcast newsroom, the specific needs of the field journalist, and the implementation of cloud capabilities. I hold a BS in Mechanical Engineering from RPI, MBA – Marketing degree from UCONN, Associates degrees in both Management and Program Management, and currently pursuing my masters in IT Engineering at Brandeis University.

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