BREAKING NEWS & VIEWS
People.com to Offer Real-Time ‘Second Screen’ Programming On Oscar Night
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Red Carpet Trivia Live” contest will stream to users trivia questions and relevant celebrity factoids in real time throughout the ceremony. For editor Mark Golin this was a natural next step for the brand. “We have so much traffic around red carpet events, we thought we should be participating with the audience during the show itself,” he tells minonline.
From the start of the Academy Awards telecast on Feb. 27 at 8 pm the contest will be accessible to HTML5-capable browsers like the iPad’s Safari or Google’s Chrome at People.com. Trivia questions will be pushed to the viewers every few minutes and will be synched to the celebrities or awards categories currently on screen. “We will have a set of writers and photo editors here during the show,” Golin says. The players will be able to drop in and out of the contest via a set of rounds, and there will be a $10,000 cash prize from sole sponsor Sprint.
While sports brands have experimented in the past with “second screen” simulcasting for games like “predict the play,” this is one of the first cases in which a popular consumer magazine brand is trying to leverage the living room “second screen” in real time in quite this way. “I have always been fascinated by the statistics of how many households have a computer and TV in the same room,” Golin says. And with the proliferation of iPads this past year, it is clear that many people are already multitasking in front of the TV with tablets.
Programming for that second screen is an interesting challenge, he admits. One wants the brand to enhance the viewing experience without nagging the viewer and distracting her from the main show. And so they designed the trivia questions to come at decent intervals and to occur in a series of games the user can engage for shorter periods of time. “We will probably have 60 questions over five or six games,” he expects. Along with the pop-up trivial tidbits the editors will pepper into the mix, Golin jokes that the Red Carpet Trivia Live user “may be watching with other users, so this will help you be the most annoying person in the room.” Sprint will have ample exposure in constant presence throughout the experience as well as video ads at select intervals.
This second screen project culminates a season of explosive growth for People.com’s awards coverage. The site pioneered online live red carpet coverage years ago in live blogging and live cams from the venues. “We’ve been racking up one day page views that you might expect to see in a month,” Golin says. The TV programs themselves have seen an upturn in their ratings and so has online traffic. “We have been continually adding to our packages and making them larger, and it has paid off huge. The numbers are out of hand and better than we expected.” People.com in January became the first magazine-branded Web site to surpass 1 billion page views in a month.
And with the season reaching its height next weekend, the site may well be gearing up to break former records. Oscar weekend is an all-hands affair at People.com. “We stop just short of wearing tuxes,” Golin says. Editors pound out captions and images get curated and posted in a feverish overnight rush. “It is very labor-intensive, with lots of stuff coming in. We pride ourselves in having well-edited galleries to zoom into details and serve full screen takeovers. The photo department loses their minds and start throwing darts at a photo of me.”
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