ABC and Nielsen have linked on an initiative to make the iPad part of the "live" TV viewing experience. While tuning into the new ABC drama "My Generation," iPad users can simultaneously engage with content related -- not just to the show, but what's happening on the TV screen right then.
The propeller is a "My Generation" sync app that uses a combination of iPad and Nielsen technologies to beam signals from the TV to the device, allowing real-time interaction. For example: Character X begins to play a pivotal role in a scene; viewers can check out the character's bio.
"My Generation" premieres on ABC on Sept. 23 and focuses on a collection of friends who graduated high school together and then return home a decade later, somewhat bowed by life's challenges. The iPad syncing while viewing is accessible even if the viewer watches the show in time-shifted mode.
Albert Cheng, the executive vice president of digital media at Disney/ ABC, stated that the screen-cum-screen system offers expanded opportunities for advertisers, and those on-screen could run companion promotions on the iPad.
Nielsen's system for ratings collection -- where it places what's known as audio watermarks in shows -- has a derivative application allowing "synch-to-broadcast" apps, permitting mobile devices to detect signals. It was developed as part of a joint venture with Digimarc, which has expertise in delivering wireless content.
The "My Generation" opportunity is only available on the iPad. Nielsen, however, is developing a next-generation of watermarking technology that will allow similar syncing with other mobile devices sometime next year. Programmers pay it a licensing fee for use of what's tabbed the "Media-Sync Platform," opening up a new revenue stream.
ABC is trying to tap into what media companies believe is an increasing hunger in a low-attention-span society for dual engagement while watching TV -- especially since many viewers sit on their couch with a mobile device. During the Olympics, NBC has said it found reams of viewers were prompted to seek more information about an athlete, a little-known country, maybe watch a germane video, etc. -- tapping into a vault of stored content.
But iPad's "syncing" technology -- tabbed as an "intuitive interface" -- goes a step further. It can offer polls, quizzes, behind-the-scenes information and social media-sharing opportunities just as the related drama unfolds.
While ABC can gain some insight into how viewers interact with wireless and computers while watching its shows, Nielsen can experiment with new measurement programs related to simultaneous consumption.
ABC may also take away some insight into what drives TV viewers to other platforms, be it on-air spots or other promotions. The app is free to download on the App Store. A video about it is on ABC.com's page for "My Generation."