The Merger Of Phone And TV – Is The Future Finally Here?

Posted on June 3, 2015

Lisa Libin, Group Director

Lisa May Post

As I re-enter the agency world after a hiatus, one thing I have realized was how quickly I need to re-immerse myself in the latest and greatest technologies in order to be a strong strategic advisor to clients and colleagues.

When I started here at @BrooklinePR, #Periscope was making its rise to fame in the online world in a rapid fashion, coming in strong and soon after having people question whether it has lasting potential or would make a quiet exit in the way many technologies have done before. April also was the peak of the hockey playoffs here in Calgary, and as I was watching the Calgary Flames give it all they had on television, I was also noticing how technologies like Periscope were sneaking their way into the way media were reporting game results.

Technology has consistently impacted how we watch TV. Gone are the days where we would watch game shows and simply yell the answer at Jeopardy to the screen, generating our own internal smugness when we got the answer right.  Today, networks are consistently looking at ways to make television shows more interactive – from weekly online voting about what contestants on Big Brother should eat, to the barrage of game shows that ask viewers to use their apps to play along. And while many of these “interactive” attempts simply haven’t caught on and gotten the viewership networks were banking on, they also didn’t move the needle in terms of changing the face of television and media.

Until Periscope. Periscope is a live video streaming app with the added feature that allows viewers to send “hearts” and interact with the broadcaster by tapping on the mobile screen as a form of appreciation. Viewers can also ask live questions or comment on what they’re seeing on-screen and the videographers or hosts can respond in real-time.

During the playoffs I started seeing numerous tweets and rants from reporters who were shooting live coverage using Periscope. Media were quickly realizing that Periscope was able to provide a new dimension to how their viewers watched the game by giving fans live, behind-the-scenes, exclusive viewing of their favourite teams. It also enabled journalists to show replays and other key game-time excitement while simultaneously interacting with those watching them.

No surprise, the NHL was not impressed with this “rogue” way of broadcasting games, and so suddenly Periscope was banned from the NHL. Other sporting organizations have been quick to follow suit including the PGA and, as of this week, the NFL.

To me, this demonstrates a sad state of how technology attempts to change media and the immediate barriers it faces when it is seen as a risk to the bottom line. In my opinion, if utilized correctly, these types of technologies can ultimately increase viewers and dollars if organizations could see the potential.

Periscope is a great partnership between phone and television. Many have been able to watch sports on their phones for years but now, not only can they watch the sports, they can be part of the action. The technology carries some big advantages that networks could easily embrace – first, it’s live. Anything that happens on and off the ice at a hockey game can be covered in real-time. This gives broadcasters – from sports media to news reporters to game show hosts, etc. the opportunity to show behind-the-scenes coverage that other reporters may not have access to, driving exclusive content to viewers and potentially creating larger broadcasting deals for the networks.

Second, it’s interactive. This isn’t just voting someone off the singing stage by phoning in a number; this is allowing people to love, comment, and criticize – all in real-time. This also enables the owner of the broadcast to see how many people are actually watching and who they are – so basically a network’s online viewership and demographic data is handed to them on a silver platter.

Finally, it’s free. Distribution costs nothing. So while a network can still show its TV broadcast in their traditional way, for zero cost they could also add an online Periscope broadcast and potentially gain a new level of viewership. Our own @BrooklinePR client @PaulBrandt recently used Periscope to broadcast the launch of his Canadian tour. Simple to execute, and very little cost compared to the traditional method of posting a press release on a national newswire. In his words, utilizing technology was a “game changer” in terms of how he got news out to fans and media.

Regardless of the rules that sporting organizations and networks put on technologies like Periscope, if the demand is real, people will find a way around the barriers. The $100 price tag to watch the hugely anticipated Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match was negated by many who watched the fight via Periscope live stream. I think at some point, networks will be left with no choice but to embrace these new technologies or will ultimately be left behind. So the big question on my mind is, who will be the first to move the broadcasting needle?

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-Lisa Libin is Group Director at Brookline Public Relations. She is a seasoned communications practitioner who specializes in delivering smart, creative and results-driven programs for her clients. She has planned and executed winning campaigns for some of the world’s top consumer and corporate brands. Lisa’s strengths lie in issues management and brand reputation issues, working with local and global communications teams to handle ongoing and current industry issues.