The “second screen” can be a traditional PC, a tablet or even a phone that people turn to for additional information about an event they are watching on a television. Do people really do this?
According to Stiegman, 85 million American use the Internet and TV simultaneously each day. Among sports fans, 39% turn on TV and other media simultaneously. One might think that the second screen is called up mostly “on the road”, but 60% of ESPN web usage is engaged in at home. ESPN users are most interested in watching multiple events and in the shot-by-shot statistics that drive fantasy sports. With the ESPN app, Stiegman explained, users can watch four ESPN channels at once.
For The Times’ Hamman and Bloom, the objective was not to just supplement TV coverage, but to provide better and more in-depth information for people interested in a particular event than TV could. The events of which they are most proud are the Oscars and the recent presidential primary election nights.
The technological challenge, according to Hamman is that there is not just one “second screen”. After analyzing all the possible devices that might receive the Times live internet coverage, they decided they had to be ready for thirty-six second screens. This attention to multiple platforms was meant to avoid crashing people’s devices or creating black holes on their screens.
Rather than taking the easy route and dumbing down the web coverage for the least capable device, they tailored their web pages to be aware of the device upon which it was being viewed. Not all viewers could see everything, but no one, Hamman hoped, would have a reason for regretting going to The Times’ site for coverage.
Several features elevated The Times coverage of the Oscars from mere live blogging, to Superhero Journalism.
Times bloggers sent their posts to an editor who reviewed and published their work, creating 167 updates to the Times Oscar page during the Oscar broadcast.
Culture Editor Bloom pointed out that on TV you could see about 20 gowns. On The Times site you could see every gown that came down the red carpet. This was accomplished by having a camera directly connected to an internet cable. Each photo was sent to two editors; one for celebrity information in the captions and one for designer information. Every photo that was published was tweetable and sharable.