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BET Succeeds on the Second Screen by Making Co-Viewing Apps Fun

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Viewers may well have a smartphone or tablet computer in-hand while watching TV, but that doesn't mean they're using that device to engage with the show. More likely, they're checking their email or their favorite social networks. The people at Black Entertainment Television (BET) knew this, so they set out to make their second-screen apps fun to use.

Speaking at the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, Brandon Lucas, vice president and general manager of mobile for BET, explained how his network already felt late to the party when they launched their first apps over two years ago.

"We said to ourselves, 'We know we want to do something really different. We want to do something that's going to take your TV app to the next level.' This is really before -- the word 'co-viewing' didn't even exist yet," Lucas said. "We really were kind of flying in the dark, but we knew a couple things. First thing we knew is when people were watching TV they were doing other things. They were checking their Facebook or their email or they were tweeting or whatever. The other thing is we knew there was an opportunity for us to make a show more meaningful by integrating an app into it."

BET chose a popular music program as the subject of its first app. Rather that simply displaying information about the artists in the show, the app lets viewers control the show's outcome.

"Ultimately, we ended up focusing our first app around our live daily music countdown show. It's called '106 & Park,' which is the BET version of TRL. It's very successful for our network. It's been on the air for about 12 years, actually. It's a two-hour live music video countdown show. You count down the hits from 10 to 1, and then you have artists come on and they perform onstage."

For more on BET's efforts, including how the "106 & Park" app instantly delivered millions of votes from home viewers, watch the full panel discussion below.

Deconstructing Content Offerings for the Second Screen

Surveys today show that an increasing amount of TV watching is done with a "second screen" in hand. Some of that time is work, Words With Friends, and throwing birds at pigs, but the rest of it is users beginning to engage with the content in some manner. Second-screen offerings can really complement some content, such as sports and reality TV shows. For others, it's a distracting mess. This session focuses on how to separate the signal from the noise by identifying the right kinds of content and how to optimize a second-screen experience to win with audiences.

Moderator: Jeremy Toeman, CEO, Dijit
Speaker: Brandon Lucas, VP, GM, Mobile, BET Networks
Speaker: Stephen White, President, Gracenote
Speaker: Chuck Parker, President, 2nd Screen

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