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Starz pushes 2nd-screen technology

Fri, 04/12/2013 - 2:03pm
Brian Santo

Starz is getting ambitious with second-screen technology in the form of a new companion app for the network’s new show “Da Vinci’s Demons: Citizens of Florence.”

The second-screen app, called “Citizens of Florence,” is available for iPad users.

The app dynamically unlocks interactive content in real-time as the show is being broadcast. The same content will be available for viewers to download and peruse any time after they watch the show.

Starz said it has created enough second-screen content that it will be able to keep viewers of the series engaged long after the series ends its initial run.

Starz is trying to mix it up by varying the content that is accessible based on which of several characters the viewer selects as an avatar (an artist, banker, etc.). The company said different characters will have different access to different “artifacts” within the app’s representation of Florence.

“Da Vinci’s Demons” premieres on Starz tonight (Friday, April 12th).

“Citizens of Florence” was created by Starz in partnership with And Company. The app works with sound sync technology provided by German company Mufin.  Starz said this will be the first time the technology has been applied in the United States.

Stored in the app are what Mufin calls audio fingerprints – stored snippets of audio from the series. When a viewer is watching the show, the mobile device upon which the app resides listens to the audio, and when it detects an audio sequence that matches one of the stored fingerprints, that’s a trigger for the app to unlock an associated feature.  

Since the app doesn't go back to the server for this purpose, that makes it easy to enable viewers to choose their own second screen paths (depending on the character/avatar they’ve chosen), without being forced into a synchronous experience or necessarily having their viewing disrupted.

The iPad app is built to support all types of viewing platforms and experiences including; live Starz audiences, time-shifted Starz DVR users, and binge viewing on platforms such as Starz On Demand and Starz Play, and ultimately Blu-Ray/DVD. 

Additional show content includes:

  • Videos: Inventions, scene pulls, interviews with Series Creator David S. Goyer,   Dr. Findlen of Stanford - historian videos, and deleted scenes.
  • 360-degree views of da Vinci’s inventions
  • Over 80 show elements, artifacts, characters and props
  • 24 panoramic environments and locations to explore
  • 8 mini games, one per episode, that once mastered, unlock exclusive content on the featured da Vinci invention. 

The app is built entirely on the iOS; it is available for use on the iPad 2 and up, with an operating system of 5.1 and up.

"With the Da Vinci's Demons app, we explored the second screen opportunity in a fresh way and one that is specific to our brand proposition about creating immersive worlds,” said Kelly Bumann, senior vice president of digital marketing for Starz. “As a commercial-free premium programming provider, we are focused on having the app extend the show’s experience and enhance the story, not disrupt it.”  

“Second screen apps have historically amplified engagement around a show through social media or community activities. Starz wanted to step outside that mold to create something that builds upon the show and has a longer shelf life than a solely synchronous experience,” said Erin Dwyer, executive director of digital marketing for Starz. “By taking that approach, and incorporating ground-breaking audio synching technology from mufin, ‘Citizens of Florence’ delivers a truly premium, non-disruptive experience.”

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