The New York Times wants your second screen for the Super Bowl

February 4, 2012


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Super Bowl XLVI won’t just be about what happens on the TV (or in the stadium), but what happens on the screen in your hand.  And with a social commenting app customized for the event, the New York Times wants your second screen looking at their website for the game.

The paper has commissioned Livefyre (@livefyre | Facebook) to develop a widget that will allow users to comment in real time during the game on its website. This will bring it into competition with NBC Sports and the NFL both of which will be streaming the game online through socially connected web and mobile apps.

The NYT’s widget has been developed by Livefyre, who have created one of the leading social commenting systems online.

Preview of Livefyre's social commenting widget for the New York Times' Super Bowl coverage

Preview of Livefyre's social commenting widget for the New York Times' Super Bowl coverage

The company has received much acclaim for its eponymous system which allows users to share comments they make on various websites (including this one) on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisers and marketers have long been chasing our “second screens”; the digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and ultrabooks we use to status-update and tweet while watching event TV.   But this year we’re going to see these screens become as important has the HD one in the corner of our living rooms.

Users have traditionally turned their second screens to Twitter and Facebook to comment on these events.  Just look at Twitter’s list of the most tweeted events of 2011 and you will see that, along with news events, entertainment and sporting events generated some of the site’s most active memes.

Twitter as a second screen

Of the 16 topics in 2011 that generated the greatest number of tweets-per-second nine of these were sporting or entertainment related (Super bowl, UK Royal Wedding, UEFA Champions League, NBA Finals, BET Awards, Home Run Derby, Brazil eliminated from the Copa America, End of FIFA Women’s World Cup, MTV Video Music Awards).  The rest were major news stories (New Years Day, Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Raid on Osama bin Laden, US East Coast earthquake, Steve Jobs resigns, Troy Davis executed, Steve Jobs’ death).

As for the rise of the second screen; GetGlue, a rapidly growing entertainment check-in site (think Foursquare for movies, TV and music) has, in the past month, closed a $12 million funding round.  In 2011 the site’s membership grew to over 2 million with over 100 million check-ins.  For 2012 the key area of growth for the company is its development of a strong second-screen platform; something that they have already seen some success with in the past few months.

So there’s no mystery why the New York Times would want to go after your second screen; but why Livefyre, why not just use Twitter?

The reason is that Livefyre will allow the paper to do what it it can’t on Twitter or Facebook – to lead the conversation.  Users who comment on the NYT site will be able to share what they write on Twitter and Facebook, complete with a link back to the NYT site.  As more people comment and share on Twitter and Facebook more people will click the links to follow the conversation on the NYT.

And because users can sign into Livefyre with their Facebook and Twitter logins they can respond to other comments on the site immediately.

Coupling this with the paper’s own coverage of the Super Bowl (and its own ads) it will be able to provide streaming social coverage from the public and more substantial coverage from the paper’s journalists.  The challenge for the paper will be to ensure the conversation stays on topic and spam comments are kept to a minimum.

The growth of the second screen as a social platform is not in doubt (thanks to the growth of smartphones/tablets/ultrabooks) but the means of using it are still to be decided.

So, it’ll be worth watching the other competitors of this Super Bowl – the New York Times’ social commenting system versus the web/mobile app systems being used by NBC Sport and the NFL.


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Ajit Jain

Ajit Jain is marketing and sales head at Octal Info Solution, a leading iPhone app development company and offering platform to hire Android app developers for your own app development project. He is available to connect on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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