At the third annual Interactive TV Show USA (August 15 and 16 in New York) Discovery Channel U.S. offered a few clues as to its growing interest in interactive television programming.
Abby Greensfelder, Discovery’s director of strategy and programming, revealed the results of a major interactive experiment performed by Discovery Channel last year during DinoWeek. She said Discovery conducted an online viewer survey and determined that for every hour-long program viewers tuned into during DinoWeek – which was highlighted by two big-budget specials: When Dinosaurs Roamed America, produced by Los Angeles-based Evergreen Films; and Walking With Dinosaurs, a copro between Discovery, the BBC and Japan’s TV Asahi – they spent as much as 45 minutes watching the show.
According to Greensfelder, Discovery viewers usually watch the channel in five-minute spurts. ‘The game kept them coming back night after night,’ she noted. The cablecaster developed a dinosaur game with its main advertising sponsor, AT&T. The game was synchronized with AT&T’s television commercials, and kept AT&T branding prominent on the interactive screens. If viewers chose to register with Discovery while they played the game, they could collect points through the week as the programs and game progressed.
In addition to a game, the interactive elements allowed viewers to drill down to more info about dinosaurs in two ways. Some data was synched to whatever was being televised. There were also interactive menus that users could select at any time. The cablecaster tried one-screen interactive elements (TV only) in a small number of homes in California, as well as two-screen interactivity (through TV and home computer).
Over 90% of the people Discovery surveyed said that the interactivity added to a show’s entertainment value; 80% said it was educational; and 78% termed it informative, Greensfelder said.