For brands in India, Internet started with the website creation frenzy, then came social media and now it is about launching mobile apps. With smartphones proliferating in the country, brands are bracing themselves to engage with fans in the small screen space.
We are witnessing publishers launching their app, shopping malls coming up with their exclusive app and so are TV channels too. For TV, mobile apps could act as the secondary device to interact with TV programs. Known as the second screen space, a market which is yet to grow in India, is being experimented in by History TV18 in the Factual Entertainment Category.
Second screen relates to any device/app that has the ability to interact with live TV. In India this space has been fairly dominated by Twitter but startups are trying their luck too. One of them is iDubba which had launched into the space with their app iCouch last year. History TV18 has used the existing iCouch app and tailored it according to its needs.
History TV18 Android app
The app tested on Android starts functioning once you verify yourself via your mobile number. First time users are given a quick preview what all they can do. In fact on my first use the app offered free talk time which could be redeemed later. The below screen grab gives you a quick look of the home screen that you get once you enter the app.
‘Live chat’ the most exciting feature is a forum where you can talk about the ongoing program among the fans of the show. Just tap on it and you will get a stream of messages where you can either read or post your message. One can add image, emoticons along with the text to make it appealing. The app allows you to mark a message spam or show love by pressing the love button equivalent to that of Facebook. The feature is interesting since verified users can join the chat and if you have friends added on the app then you can have a close conversation with them too. Another big incentive is that History TV18 promises to showcase the chats on the live show. While it is an interesting feature, the channel will need to filter a lot of messages since very few are about the show. With time this feature can pick up.
Right now Live chat, the messaging feature does its job but could be improved with better features. In the world of messaging wars, the messaging feature of the app can have an update.
Scroll down the app on the home screen, you will find the list of forthcoming shows. Tap on any one of them to find more details about the show, I tapped on Pawn Stars. The below screen grab gives you a quick look of the feature.
About and Cast are self-explanatory features that give relevant information about the show. The information is useful but could be more appealing; right now it is just a text file which might be a slight turn off to users. The video could be embedded possibly?
Hit on the follow button to get into the show details. Every page of a TV show has been divided into categories like Interact, Feeds and Lounge. Interact is nothing but the chatting zone where you can either talk with everyone or prefer a conversation with buddies. Feeds are basically videos, images and facts about the show. If you like any content in the feed then you can like, share or comment. Finally Lounge gives you an option to have fun on the app by creating polls or quizzes. A feature that the brand might want to use in future to create some interest about respective shows on the app.
Besides this the app allows you to check out the tweets from the channel by tapping on the blue bird right at the top left corner. Adding buddies is the feature that lets you build your network by adding people based on the shows they follow or even finding people from your phone book using the app. The app also recommends users to be added based on your activities. Settings is another feature that helps you to basically control the notifications and how you would like to use the app.
Worth downloading the app?
Second screen space isn’t an easy market. Watching TV is a laid back experience and to motivate users to engage during that time isn’t an easy job, a thought that was shared by Anand Shah, Founder of Ignite Solutions, a startup working in the second screen space. Not only the incentive has to be high, the content should be exclusive for users to really make sense of a second screen experience. Enticing users to chat about the show while it is on air could be a great incentive but education and brand interaction will be required. A great feature could be getting popular characters of the channel to engage with fans. Surely, going further History TV18 will have some plans.
Functionality wise the app does its job for now but needs to make itself content rich so that users are excited to log into the app. Considering it to be the first roll out, I would expect some enhancement in its look and feel to provide an enriching user experience. As stated earlier the live messaging feature is one of the highlights of the app so the creators can make it better and interesting.
Right now the app is more of an informative app about the shows on the channel and the brand will have to work on making it a fruitful second screen experience.
Do give the app a try. Let us know how you would prefer the app to interact with you while watching your favorite TV shows.