Disney/ABC, Nielsen pact for iPad app that syncs with content


This is the first app built on Nielsen’s Media-Sync Platform, which uses audio watermarking to synchronize mobile devices to TV programming. ABC’s “My Generation Sync iPad App” on the App Store is a first-of-its-kind app that enhances the experience of watching “My Generation” on TV by providing synchronized interactive content and social media functionality on the iPad.

Released one week in advance of the 9/23 premiere of the new ABC primetime drama “My Generation,” the app allows fans of the new ABC series to unlock synchronized content and features, as well as connect in real-time with other viewers of the program through their social networks.

“In the ever-evolving television landscape, we are constantly looking to create immersive viewing experiences around our shows,” says Albert Cheng, executive vice president, digital media, Disney/ABC Television Group. “Together with Nielsen, we’ve created a sync-to-broadcast app that appeals to both fans and advertisers, and holds an array of possibilities for deeper engagement with our content and our advertisers’ brands.”

iPad users who download the app will be able to automatically synchronize to any episode (live or time-shifted) of the series and access exclusive interactive content produced by ABC as a companion to that specific point in the episode.  Companion content will include polls, trivia, behind-the-scenes insights, production details and social networking features. The application will also allow consumers to interact with companion promotions from sponsors of “My Generation.”

Nielsen’s Media-Sync Platform is a complete application development and operations environment that allows TV content producers and broadcasters to deploy sync-to-broadcast mobile apps in a rapid and scalable manner. Media-Sync relies on audio watermarks that are inserted into nearly every TV program in the US to support Nielsen’s industry standard TV audience ratings service. While still inaudible to the human ear, the latest generation of watermarks can be detected and decoded through the microphone of mobile devices in a normal living room setting. The Media-Sync Platform is a product of Nielsen’s joint venture with Digimarc Corporation, a leading provider of media ID solutions.

“The Media-Sync Platform was born out of Nielsen’s continuous investment in leading-edge audience measurement technologies and we believe it paves the way to fundamentally change the way consumers interact with TV programs and TV advertisements,” says Sid Gorham, Nielsen’s EVP, Strategy and Business Development. “We are thrilled to collaborate with the innovative team at Disney/ABC to develop the first Media-Sync app and look forward to a broader industry wide launch in early 2011.”  

We are told by ABC Spokeswoman Karen Hobson that the ABC Ad Sales team is currently presenting opportunities to advertisers and agencies. On that note, RBR-TVBR asked Gorham:

How do advertisers sync with this?
“Nielsen’s audio watermarks, which have been inserted into nearly every TV show in the U.S. to support Nielsen’s TV audience measurement, can also be embedded into TV advertisements. These watermarks carry unique identifying information via the program or commercial’s audio signals that can be picked up by microphones on a variety of devices including smartphones and tablets.”

He added, “By syncing seamlessly with the program or TV advertising content, the app allow viewers to more fully engage with the content through social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter & fan comments), quizzes and polls, and other interactive content related to the show, while also allowing consumers to interact with companion promotions from My Generation’s sponsors through special calls to action directly within the app.”

What other programs might be in the pipeline?
“We can’t discuss specific plans, but we are planning on a broader industry roll-out for the Media-Sync Platform early next year.”

ABC’s scripted drama, “My Generation,” follows the personal stories of nine friends.  The promises they thought their futures held, as well as how far they’ve come and just how they got here are all told through the camera of a documentary film crew.

The My Generation Sync App is the latest example of innovation from the Disney/ABC Television Group (DATG), and follows the recently released ABC Family Chatterbox app and The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens enhanced eBook. DATG was the first to bring full episode video to the iTunes store and just this past April, DATG delivered ad-supported video to iPad via the acclaimed ABC Player App. The app has proven to be a tremendous success with over 900,000 downloads and more than 8 million episodes started. Additionally, DATG has created an ABC News App that has to date been downloaded more than 420,000 times.

The app is available from the App Store on iPad or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.  For a video demo of ABC’s “My Generation” Sync app, visit http://abc.go.com/shows/my-generation/ipad.

RBR-TVBR observation: Looks like television at the network level is way ahead of local TV and certainly radio as well. This is the next generation of content and advertiser integration. Let’s face it, everything is moving to mobile devices and the iPad is the choice of many because of its larger view screen. The sooner traditional media can offer up this sort of integration and real-time consumer data tracking for advertisers, the better. Certainly, one major reason RBR-TVBR is in the process of rolling out its own iPhone/iTouch/iPad app.