Every network is looking for ways to get viewers more involved in their favorite shows and, now that tablet devices are competing with televisions for attention in the living room, “second screen” initiatives are playing a big part. Second-screen technology, the use of a tablet or smartphone while watching television, lets audience members become a part of the show as they interact in real time.
NBC is hoping its new game show, The Million Second Quiz, will have viewers glued to their tablets and their TVs when it debuts this fall. Billed as the first fully convergent television experience, the 24-hour a day contest (running for 12 days) features a one-hour show airing in prime time each night, with viewers able to watch a live stream at all other times and play along from the show’s app and website.
Contestants test their knowledge and endurance from an hourglass-shaped set in the middle of Manhattan. By answering correctly, each contestant has the chance to move to “Winners’ Row”, though they must fight to stay there as new competitors enter the structure. The daily prime time show features the top four “Winners’ Row” contestants of the day competing for a total cash prize pool of $10 million.
During the screened one hour, NBC will surprise participating home viewers that have won a trip to compete on the show in New York. And in a move designed to keep people watching even when the commercials are on, viewers can answer questions about the ads for bonus points. NBC promises the questions themselves will be up-to-date and topical, offering a major advantage over other quiz shows that are filmed weeks before they air.
NBC is hoping for similar second-screen success as other networks. AMC has its popular “Story Sync” feature for The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, which is an app that offers behind-the-scenes clips, bonus footage, trivia, polls and viewer chat during premiere screenings of episodes. Fox has a similar second screen offering for programs including The Following and Bones.
Social TV and second-screen technology add additional layers of media to a traditional broadcast, though no-one has tried to keep viewers engaged for 24-hours a day before. Giving viewers ways to interact with a show outside of traditional broadcasting is helping to keep television alive in a downloading, DVR-ing and streaming world. While second-screen technology is still in its infancy, The Million Second Quiz offers a look at what the future of television interactivity can be.
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