The contemporary TV audience is well equipped, tech-savvy and expect high engagement. With more demanding audiences, TV programs and shows are no longer just about the content at the dias. They’re mostly about its delivery and interaction.
That’s where the second screen technology know-how that Luxnet has, comes in. It represents a thrilling new opportunity to engage your audience and enhance the overall event experience.
Thus, our company lately delivered a new interactive platform “Teleportal”, allowing us to create an interactive mobile app specifically for TV shows and sports events.
What is it?
Starting at the beginning, the first screen is a TV – the big box that’s been the centerpiece of living rooms for decades. The second screen, however, can be a variety of different devices. There are three basic criteria that a device must fit if it wants to call itself a second screen. One: connectivity. Two: app functionality. Three: it must have a screen. So… your laptops, tablets, smartphones, and handheld gaming units can all be used as a second screen, though tablets and smartphones currently seem to be the most popular option.
How it works?
Let’s say you’re watching a sport event or TV Show such as “Ukraine got a Talent”, “X-Factor”, “MasterChef” etc. If you’re a casual fan, you’re not watching every minute of several days’ competition; more likely, you’re flipping back and forth between the event and some other program. Most of the time, you’re popping in to see a few shots and check the score. The problem is: you might have to hang around for a bit to get that update. Not so with a second screen.
Today, many networks will provide additional coverage of the event online, which can bolster your viewing experience by storing replays for later viewing. This allows you to quickly view participant or player information, and give you access to a live leaderboard that updates in real-time. It’s an easy way to enhance your viewing experience, and is typically free to those with an existing Internet service provider.
The second screen is also ideal for social media integration, allowing you to quickly interact with users on Twitter or Facebook, to comment on what’s happening live, and to participate in polls or contests. This brings us to the crux of what the Second screen is: It isn’t necessarily interactive TV, enhanced TV, or social TV - it’s more like personalized TV.
In the sport and interactive show examples the second screen affords you the opportunity to watch the replays you want to watch, to check the stats you want to check, and to follow the players or participants you are interested in. The world is moving towards personalization, and this is just another step.
What is Teleportal?
Our Interactive Platform “Teleportal” brings a turn-key solution which is a ready-to-go system that can be delivered and easily set up for any kind of interactive TV show.
The target for Luxnet was to develop a highly-competitive and scalable mobile application platform for iOS and Android that will attract a hundred thousand users and help broadcasters to become visible on the digital media market.
Our app allows you to access various data of the sporting event or TV show: participant, player or character origins, screenshots, and plenty of other additional content. Many shows feature their own apps nowadays, and while those tend to provide a narrower, more focused experience, second screen apps like our highly-successful “Teleportal” have a much broader appeal. Television shows and specific broadcasts can build their own page on “Teleportal”, which acts as a database. Viewers can use the service to find their favorite shows or sport events and discuss them via social media, or to get up to speed on the most recent goings-on.
Shows can have their own "TV modules" within the app where fans can chat throughout the day, and interact live with games, polls and other features when they're on the air.
How Second Screen was built?
As we had to create a mobile app that was compatible with already existing TV shows that had established content, effective communication between us and the clients’ developer team was crucial. We had to be in touch all the time because all changes in the webapp platform they were executing could affect the specifications and dependability of the mobile app we were developing. It was very important to be always updated.
In this project Luxnet used iterative Scrum model, so the client was always updated and had a chance to see and accept all milestones.
It took us about two weeks to create a prototype and necessary specifications in Zeplin and Sketch where designers quickly turned their designs into powerful specs and guidelines, while developers accessed all the resources they need in a single location and generated code snippets that were tailored to the platform.
After that it took us three months to develop the app both for iOS and Android platforms.
The project was written in native Java for Android and in swift for iOS 9+ versions with PHP and Symfony3 used. It enabled “Teleportal” to increase tenfold its performance while considerably simplified development. And throughout the process, the "responsive" effort adopted by the app was respected... This user-centric approach aims to automatically adapt content to each project within the application without implicating additional development.
Designing an app that automatically adapts to any type of content doesn’t complicate maintenance. On the contrary, the flexible architecture of “Teleportal” allowed our developers more efficiency since the entire system uses a single code base. This obviously greatly simplified the back end as well. The features are integrated only once, without necessary duplication by platform type.
The most pragmatic of the reasons for adopting the Symfony was about facilitating the way people will customize and extend the platform. Even if “Teleportal” was doing a good job, we still wanted to take any opportunity to do an even better job.
For testing and benchmarking we have used Yandex-tank. It allowed us to collect data about each component work times and wait times. Then we visualized them on critical path and found all bottlenecks avoiding them to migrate in new releases. Yandex-tank help us to collect a lot of metrics and found correlations to concentrate on the critical path.
Our stress challenge was to maintain 40 000 simultaneous users who are logged from social networks. In reality we couldn’t test it, due to risk to be banned. All other non-standard requests which were not processed with existing specialized solutions, were forecasted, scripted and our servers were optimized for them.
We also have used Firebase for pushes and analytics of our application. Thanks to that we could easily access and share the data.
In Luxnet we also think, that DevOps is necessary to meet the current needs of companies developing software, websites and applications. That is why we always emphasize it in our approach.
With the traditional waterfall model, the requirements for software were clear and well-defined in advance. But today requirements change very often, and software must be developed at an ever-increasing pace. Not only must software and web applications be marketed faster, but it must also be possible to constantly update them, easily add new features and fix any bugs found.
Our team of developers was not the only one to react quickly and efficiently; the operational team, which has to deploy and monitor the new applications, always react the same way.
By developing “Teleportal” Luxnet delivered the best and unique solution for TV audience engagement through Second Screen currently on the Ukrainian market. It provides second screen polls, quizzes and competitions. As for the poling, “Teleportal”:
- Supports sentiment analysis and different widgets to leverage this kind of data collection.
- Uses a software dial, which can be distributed to millions of people at the same time with ease, as opposed to the classic hardware dial from times your grandparents still remember
- The results are aggregated in real-time instantly and can be shown as part of a show on TV.
The TV show organizers can also use “Teleportal” tools to organize competitions connected to their show and distribute them to reach their TV audience. Then, viewers compete against each other through text messages or on social media pages.
CTA and leaderboards are displayed on the screen, and the winners get awards, gifts and prizes.
For all of the “Teleportal” second screen products:
- templates can be customized by the user and used many times for different polls and competitions;
- the results are aggregated and shown in real-time.