A few weeks ago I was asked to do a write-up on the 2013 Illinois State University Sport Management Symposium. It’s an event that brings out a lot of head honchos from the sports industry. In the spirit of name dropping (and adding great SEO keywords) reps were present from the Chicago Blackhawks, PGA, Chicago Cubs, Orlando Magic, and Comcast SportsNet. Needless to say, the attendees—all still in college—were going to have a lot of good takeaways from this.
Turns out I did too.
Near the end of the panel discussion, Jay Blunk, executive vice president of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Phil Bedella, general manager of Comcast SportsNet Chicago, brought up the concept of the second screen and TV viewing.
According to Blunk, more than 75 percent of fans watching a Blackhawks game have two screens in front of them. The first, of course, is their TV. The second screen is a tablet, laptop, or smartphone. These people don’t just have it sitting there. They are using it.
Bedella concurred with Blunk’s stats on the second screen. Comcast SportsNet hired SmithGeiger, a custom marketing research and consulting firm, to find insights on their viewers in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The results were telling—82 percent of people watching Comcast SportsNet have another device open and in use while they watch.
That is 4 out of 5 people!
So what can this second screen do for you? Or more important to Bedella, what can the second screen do for Comcast SportsNet?
During a Chicago White Sox game last year, Adam Dunn hit a home run that tied the game. A hashtag went up on the screen and the announcer asked the audience if they thought that that is the home run of the year.
In the next 15 minutes, the amount of buzz generated on Twitter caused ratings to go up almost half a point. Even actor John Cusack got in on the action, tweeting his props to Dunn and the White Sox—a big deal when you consider that Cusack had just over 1.1 million followers at the time (he has closer to 1.2 million now).
What does this do for fans? As Blunk and Bedella see it, it shifts the role of the fan from viewer to participant. The second screen is a way to become more deeply involved with the event. And what’s more, fans are coming to expect this invitation. They have a voice, and teams are happy to hear the voices. Win-win.
During Superbowl 2011, the final moments saw fans sending 4,064 tweets per second—a record for a sporting event. Superbowl 2013 also saw a record number of tweets, with the game and halftime show generating 24.1. million. This chatter brings more viewers to their TVs and if nothing else, puts the games on the top of people’s minds.
In fact, Stacey King, a Chicago Bulls announcer known for his killer catchphrases, has made it a habit of tweeting to his 200,000+ followers right before each game. It reminds them that the Bulls are playing, and it’s time to watch. It also invites them into the experience.
What are you doing to capture that second screen? Assuming you aren’t in charge of a national sports franchise, you can still capitalize on the digital conversations users are having. Advertisers and brand researchers track conversations on Superbowl commercials. TV personalities are steering the conversations and drawing in new viewers. And some people are just using major viewing events as an opportunity to talk with their audience—establish a deeper rapport and a shared experience.