The fifth season of VH1’s ‘Mob Wives’ premiered last Wednesday and the network introduced an innovative way to engage fans both watching live and in a time-shifted setting. VH1 has partnered with audio-recognition app Shazam to create an immersive second screen gaming experience.
Before a big moment in an episode, viewers are prompted to ‘Shazam’ the show, and, once synced, a game board is presented that allows fans to play along with both episode-specific and evergreen games. Games will include ‘Which Mob Wife Are You?,’ ‘Trigger Finger’ (where viewers track the number of ‘F-bombs’) , and ‘The Beef-o-Meter.’ The Shazam integration also gives viewers the ability to browse music featured from the show and seamlessly purchase it on iTunes or Google Play.
With only one episode of the season under its belt (and episode two premiering tonight), the Shazam integration is already paying off. The premiere resulted in the greatest number of tweets for a single episode of the show in the entire series, and placed fourth on Nielsen’s Twitter TV Ratings chart for Wednesday, December 3 with 40,000 tweets and a unique audience of 749,000.
Networks recognize that more and more viewers of scripted shows and reality shows are watching in a time-shifted setting, but engaging this audience has its challenges; evergreen games that can be accessed and played no matter when a viewer watches is a great start. For more on the creation of the games and why VH1 turned to Shazam, we spoke with Dave Perry, Vice President, OnAir + Multi-Platform Creative at VH1.
Lost Remote: Can fans who watch ‘Mob Wives’ in a time-shifted setting (so, after the live airing) still participate in the game? If so, why is this element important?
Dave Perry: When we looked at the research, we found a large portion of the total audience watches Mob Wives “time-shifted”. So our goal very early focused on how to engage fans whenever and wherever they choose to watch. To do this, we needed a platform that could connect viewers with the content as they were watching – on their platform and timeframe of choice. This led us immediately to Shazam. Leveraging their ACR technology and massive install base, it was clear that they were the ideal platform to create a “DVR-proof” engagement experience.
LR: There are plenty of second-screen companies and obviously driving viewers to the VH1 app is also important. With this in mind, why did you turn to Shazam?
Perry: The game play and messaging strategy was specifically designed for “time-shifted” use; whether the viewer watches the show live, minutes or days later via DVR, or on VOD or VH1.com, they will receive the same message to play along with the show. We put a lot of effort into creating engagement experiences for the live audience, as that’s where the most eyeballs are at any given time. However, as overall viewing habits continue to change, and with the Mob Wives viewer insights in hand, the idea of creating an experience that was “DVR-proof” seemed to be a very timely (and interesting) problem to solve. Ultimately, we felt if we didn’t tailor the experience to the total audience who watches the show, we were leaving too much on the table.
LR: What were the engagement numbers with the games like after the season premiere?
Perry: Initial engagement looks quite promising. From our live/same day viewers, we had over 11,000 tags (10,000 uniques). Additionally, during the critical L+3 period, we had 6,000 new tags (5,000 uniques) – that’s 54% of incremental engagement taking place outside of the premiere window. And, based on the number of interactions per user/per session, we had an Interaction Rate of 306% in live/same day. Considering this is the first expression of a new behavior for our audience, this is a very solid number – even when compared to interactions from some of our other successful and massively social shows.
LR: Anything else?
Perry: We have more games in store for our fans! Some of the games will have an OnAir element – where the real-time results of the viewer interaction will play out ontelevision. For instance, in the upcoming episode premiering on 12/10, there’s a blowout argument between two cast members. Viewers will use “The Beef-o-Meter” game on their phones to declare (or switch) their allegiance as the fight plays out, and you’ll be able to see it all play out on TV in real time – similar to recent Presidential debates.
And, in the near future, we will debut our most anticipated game called “Trigger Finger”. In this game, our viewers fingers will be flying as they try to keep track of how many “F-Bombs” (bleeps) are dropped in a scene and by which cast member – all happening in real time. Considering how this cast “communicates”, that is no small feat.