By Lyndsey Schaefer
Participation TV specialist company iPowow derived its name from the traditional Native American word, where in the middle of a circle, people gathered to tell stories and socialize around a fire. But in their case, TV is the fire, allowing everyone to be a part of the circle. iPowow uses the 2nd screen to engage the viewer, second by second, in the TV show.
iPowow is an interactive media company based in Los Angeles that’s on the leading edge of the global shift toward participation television and second screen content. iPowow’s global, real-time, interactive platform accessed via the 2nd screen, gives broadcasters, TV producers and advertisers the power to create a new breed of Participation TV with compelling engagement for the viewer.
Gavin Douglas, iPowow’s Chief Creative Officer, connected with Colin Hornett, iPowow’s Executive Producer – North America when Hornett was producing the Miss Universe contest. With iPowow’s Live Vote platform, the audience could judge the contestants in real time and see the results instantly on TV. The collaboration resulted in more than 23 million votes in nine minutes, with votes coming in from 155 countries.
Since that success, iPowow has expanded its portfolio of partnerships to include global broadcasters such as ESPN, NASCAR on Fox Sports SPEED, UFC, Top Rank Boxing, Supercross; as well as the American Music Awards, Dragons Den and Project Runway.
“At NAB, it was agreed that it’s very difficult to get large quantities of people to interact simultaneously on the second screen,” Douglas explains. “The difference is that in Participation TV, the viewers control the story and the outcome. It’s all about what’s on the primary screen and how users are driven to the second screen.”
iPowow is now being utilized in 22 different TV shows in Australia, Canada and the United States. With its collaboration with ESPN’s Sports Center, iPowow found that effecting the emotion and story on a TV show increases viewer engagement levels. Typical engagement for a poll using Social TV platforms is 1 – 1.5 percent; iPowow found that with their Participation TV platform, 15 percent of all of ESPN’s Sports Center viewers were engaged, Douglas says.
iPowow also created a home-coach experience for “The Voice,” where users push one button if they like the singer, and receive points if the judges also choose that person for their teams. Hornett calls this “fantasy football on steroids.” Sponsoring companies can also provide prize incentives for users, which offers endless branding opportunities.
“TV stations want to drive viewership and increase revenue. We are one of the solutions to do that, because telling great stories lead to great ratings,” Douglas says. Our platform is set up to be branded. Our clients want to keep the connection with the viewer on the second screen and own that.”
iPowow’s platform also allows for seamless sharing, creating an effective social marketing tool. The value proposition iPowow provides is getting opinions heard by removing the fourth wall.
“Social TV is heads down. Participation TV is heads up, and that’s what they want. The need for one-touch engagement is there,” Hornett says.