The next generation of sports fans are not passive viewers. They demand real-time interaction with their games. In the future, fans will simultaneously watch a game on TV, while using their phones to chat with friends about the game, answer trivia and polls related to it, compete with other fans, and earn rewards from their favorite sponsors. This next generation of fans expects a better experience. Instead of watching content passively, they want to participate in real time.
Enter the second screen experience.
Versus Systems is changing the way sports fans experience televised games. Their platform offers fans a second screen experience, which not only drives fan retention and engagement, it offers advertisers an opportunity to connect with hard to reach audiences.
Versus recently tested their platform during the middleweight boxing title fight between Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders. Six NHL teams have partnered with Versus for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Brands including Crush use Versus to reach sports audiences.
Second screen fan engagement is poised to alter the way audiences interact with live and televised sporting events. It will improve engagement and retention, drive more effective brand advertising, and enhance fan experience.
The Future of Live Sports
Fans already use their devices to communicate with friends during live sporting events. In the future, they will join other fans around the world to compete in games and trivia and earn prizes and DLC. Live leaderboards will stoke competition between users. Real time polls will instantly gauge audience reaction to action in the game.
Targeted questions and team-specific trivia will hook a team’s most passionate supporters. During events, new trivia questions based on what happens in the moment will allow fans to participate even more. A boxer gets knocked down. Will he get back on his feet? A batter makes it to second base. Will he score a run? Fans will have to keep watching in order to compete and stay eligible for rewards.
During timeouts and team huddles, extra trivia and new games will keep fans from leaving the room. Lulls in the action provide perfect opportunities to offer more rewards and exclusive offers. Instead of checking out, fans will stay hooked. When the action slows on one screen, it will increase on the second screen and fans will stay interested.
Will Fans Adopt It?
Many sports fans already use two screens when watching their favorite teams. During remote watch parties, friend groups are on their texting and messaging apps to communicate across time zones, while sitting in their own living rooms and watching their own televisions. Celebrities broadcast their instantaneous reactions to thousands of followers with live tweets. Platforms like Twitch allow esports fans to interact virtually while live streaming games.
According to a Nielsen report, up to 45% of U.S. consumers use a second screen “very often” or “always.” Both Millennials and members of Gen Z use their smartphones simultaneously with their laptops or televisions. Even members of older generations text back and forth while watching sports.
Over the last year, virtual watch parties have only grown more common. Unable to meet in person, millions of people learned to watch sports and movies concurrently with friends living in different cities. Fans are ready to adopt a new second screen viewing experience.
Second screen technology beats group texting hands down. People were using group texts in 2011. This new technology allows fans to do much more than just text each other. It combines the competition of Fantasy Football with the enhanced viewing experience of Twitch, the draw of smartphone games, and the rewards and sweepstakes of prizing apps.
Versus’ second screen technology will make it hard for fans to walk away from the game. If you leave to get a drink or a snack, you might miss trivia questions and the opportunity to earn prizes. Your friends might inch ahead of you on the leaderboard.
Second screen technology exploits sports fans’ natural competitiveness. During a game, fans scan a QR code to take them to a website, where they can join other fans around the world to compete for prizes. Engagement begins in the days before the game, when fans can begin answering predictive trivia and playing games. During the event itself, fans answer more trivia questions, participate in polls, and earn digital and physical coupons redeemable for products in the real world.
Sports fans love competition. Spectators want to see their favorite teams beat rival teams. But fans also want in on the action. They make Fantasy Football teams and March Madness bracket pools. They use FanDuel, and make informal bets. The chance to earn real prizes and compete with friends and users around the world will only add to many fans’ excitement.
The opportunity to win rewards will ensure fans watch games live, instead of recording them. Brand-related trivia questions will drive fans to engage with those brands. Competition for discounts on products will actually make the products more enticing, even to those who did not win because these branded experiences and offers are significantly more memorable than traditional brand placements.
Rewards make viewers want to continue watching. Cleverly placed rewards ensure video gamers continue playing. Second screen technology will incentivize audiences to stay in the game. Fans will keep watching events on television so they can keep playing and winning on their smartphones. Users will be unable to put down their devices, or stop watching the game, because new questions and chances to win will keep crossing their screens.
The second screen experience is the future of live sporting events. Fans will use their phones to participate in the games themselves. Sports fans will want to watch more games in order to keep competing and keep earning.
Watching live events on second screen technology keeps fans engaged, their focus on watching it live rather than recording it for later. By allowing fans to interact with the game itself, it will improve fan retention over time. Fans will not only watch more games live, they will become more invested in those games and stay more invested in their teams. Second screen technology gives fans what they already want. It makes them participants in their own favorite sports.