[This article is now out of date and we have seen up to 12.4% conversion rates] There's been plenty of discussion over the last 2 years about media multi-taskers, people who watch TV while online. But people rarely talk about hard numbers or conversion rates, the stuff that media agencies and brands really want to know. By conversion rates I mean the % of the TV audience that participate online with a 2-Screen element. This must be quite off-putting for brands wanting to get involved, but the latest news is very good. A year ago, The Apprentice Predictor saw around 30,000 unique visitors, with prime time (up to about 8m) TV viewers. Considering you're asking people to do something very new, that was a lot of people, but still only 0.4%. Encouraging pre-early adopter behaviour. When we launched "Four Weddings" play-along and chat application later in the year on Living TV, we saw a peak conversion rate of 1.4%. There has been a lot more activity in dual-screen at ITV in particular, enabled partly by free social chat application Cover It Live. ITV now add a discussion element to many of their live streams such as the election debates and Champion's League football matches. But on Monday night, The Million Pound Drop Live on Channel 4 (disclaimer, it's one of our projects), saw just over a 2% conversion rate - 45,141 unique players within just 1 hour for a 2.2m TV audience. They cumulatively played 318,610 games (i.e. lots of people lost their money and started again!).
[ Tuesday saw a leap in players, 76,000 uniques, just over 500,000 game plays and a 4.2% audience conversion on TV ratings. Broadcast have reported it here (behind paywall I'm afraid) ] If you haven't seen the show, it's a 1-hour live special where two contestants are given £1m in cash, and asked up to 8 questions. They get to place their money on trapdoors representing each answer option, in order to spread their risk. Compelling viewing because like all good gameshows it asks the question "would I win?". The play-along game is synched to the show and lets people at home play-along in realtime.
In my opinion, the three main reasons for the rise in participation:
- Tighter integration with the show itself - replication of what's happening on-screen and hearing the presenter talking about what's happening online. e.g. "The home audience just put £1bn on Option B, are you sure?". In other words, it's more interesting.
- It has a sharable, comparable pay-off - more purpose.
- People are increasingly more comfortable with the TV + wireless laptop scenario
Demographics and show timing will certainly have an affect, I'll comment more on that when we have more data. The effect of social media chatter on TV ratings themselves is another factor In the next year we're aiming to regularly involve even more of the audience, by making experiences consistent between shows, simplifying the participation and applying that extra creative magic.