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If you have not yet watched Davina McCall's new game show from Channel 4, then do it, because the game show itself feeds the same feelings you get whilst watching 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' - that frustrating moment when the answers are easy when you know them, but impossible when you don’t, and shouting at the contestant in the tv wont help them win the big money.
Million Pound Drop is a little different. It has created a dual screen experience for viewers - It comes with the added features of an online game that viewers can play at the same time as the broadcast, and a facebook fanpage and twitter feed that has already topped the trending topics in the UK in its first week.
Jody Smith, Channel 4’s cross-platform commissioner said in New Media Age “We’ve never done anything on this scale for a gameshow before. The experience will be split between the two screens. Players can then boast about how well they’re scoring on Twitter and Facebook”
The game is simple - the contestants are given £1 million pounds in cash, asked to answer 8 questions and they get to keep whatever is left from the original £1m they started with…simple I hear you say…not quite…
For each question they are given 3 or 4 answers. They need to decide which answer to put their £1m cash on, or split the cash across 2 or 3 answers at the risk of losing some or all of their cash. They do not have the option of walking away…they have to get through every question to stand the chance of winning any of the cash.
I have not seen one contestant walk away with a single penny yet…
So I decided I could do so much better than the tv contestant and had a go at their online game myself…The best I have done so far was survive 3 questions with £350k left ie. two thirds of the orignal cash already lost and still 5 questions to go!
Ok - so thats when you realise its harder when you are playing the same questions as the live contestants, waiting for Davina to call out the answers...
At the end of the first week, this nightly game show attracted 2.22m (12.7% of total tv viewers) - more significantly, the online game attracted around 100,000 players and 500,000 plays – that is almost 5% of the viewers playing the online game in its first week…a strong result that I believe, begins to demonstrate a consumer appetite for lean forward, dual screen experiences. They also have almost 57,000 fans of the show on facebook. All achieved in the shows first week. Thats a solid performance.
So what is attracting people to the show?
Apart from being a compelling game show format, it combines the live broadcast, with a realtime online game, with the twitter conversations #mpd #millionpounddrop and facebook, and is a great way for broadcasters to increase viewer engagement because it does 3 simple things:
1. It lets users play the same game as the live contestants.
2. It lets the viewers join the conversation to share scores, answers and comments about the live contestants.
3. If you still have cash left at the end of the show, then there is an incentive to watch the next episode.
Watching the gameshow, playing the online game, and joining the twitter conversation did make me think though.
What is this exactly?
There has been a lot of talk recently about Social TV, Connected TV, Participative TV, OTT, IPTV, etc, and I have struggled to fit this 2 screen experience into any one of these buckets…so what is it then?
Is it Participative TV? I dont think so. Participative TV has tended to mean, by definition, viewers take part in the Show and have an effect on its outcome e.g. voting out contestants on X Factor.
Is it Social TV? Yes - but it doesnt define it completely. it is social in that you can join a conversation of thousands who are either throwing insults at the live contestants, or egging them on, or sharing their answers, asking for answers, etc…but not through the Shows own website…it is via Twitter, which isnt a bad thing, especially when you consider that the broadcast regulations dictate that any live chat feed etc needs to be moderated…so no twitter feed into the live broadcast stream or website...although when you consider the show was the top trending topic on Twitter on Friday night, that doesn't seem to matter much.
Is it Connected TV? No and yes…there is no content delivered via IP to the big screen, and so by definition it is not Connected TV. However, it does resonate the essence of what opportunities ConnectedTV promises to enable.
Is it OTT or IPTV? No. There is no web content delivered to the big screen.
If we can't pigeon hole this in to one of these buckets, what extra do we need to understand it?
What we know is that the big screen live broadcast is 'Home Entertainment' and the dual screen experience lets viewers 'Socialise around the virtual watercooler'.
What possible sums it up perfectly is a new term that has emerged…Social Entertainment. (Read our recent article on this here Study Reveals Shift as Social Networks Become 'Social Entertainment')
So, what the great team over at Monterosa Productions (www.monterosa.co.uk) have achieved for Channel 4, is to create a 2 screen experience that heightens the level of engagement in a way that offers couch potatoes the chance to sit back and shout at the tv, or to lean forward and play along with what is being broadcast, and to share the shout outs about it with the extended family of people doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time on Twitter or Facebook.
The show by itself is great to watch, but for me the more immersive, more complete experience is when you are playing your 1 million quid against the live contestants on your big screen, whilst joining in with the conversations on Twitter and Facebook.
This format is one that I believe we will see a lot more of over the coming months….think about it - there are so many reality tv, game shows, other shows that are ripe for a Social Entertainment makeover.
In fact the same team at Monterosa have also been working with ITV on an online World Cup football companion (http://www.monterosa.co.uk/blog/itvlivelaunch), which looks very promising from the previews we have seen, and we will be reviewing it here just as soon as we have had a chance to play with it.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you about other examples of this kind of dual screen social entertainment...
What have you seen out there right now?
What rumours have you heard?
Do you think this kind of format will get mainstream traction?
What tv shows or genres do you think could benefit from a Social Entertainment Dual Screen makeover?
Paul is a writer for Appmarket.tv and founding Director at Montgomery Aston and has been specialising in making sense and acting upon the convergent areas of Media, Communications and Consumer Experience for the past 15 years. He has worked with some of the biggest names in media and has been responsible for innovation across marketing; advertising; digital devices & platforms, user experience, broadcast, on demand, publishing, social media and mobile. Hook up with him at Linkedin and @mediadventurer.