You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Emmys Double Down on Second Screen

More awards on tap to keep up with dizzying array of TV apps

TV’s increasing efforts to target viewers across platforms is connecting with one important audience: the TV Academy. For this year’s edition of Primetime Emmys, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is doubling down on its commitment to show love for interactive programming.

The Academy’s 12-year-old interactive media peer group — 627 members strong and one of the Acad’s fastest-growing entities — will move from two to five awards in recognition of the growing diversity of offerings in the field.

“Look, there’s all these things going on,” says Lori H. Schwartz, governor of the Academy’s interactive media peer group. “The Emmys need to be leading in recognizing them.”

Chief among the changes is the establishment of a competitive award for outstanding interactive program, saluting either a standalone experience or one that serves as a companion to a TV program. In the Emmy context, “interactive” denotes anything that encourages proactive engagement from the audience — not to be confused with video content delivered via broadband, such as Netflix’s “House of Cards.”

The Academy also has expanded the existing juried Emmy for creative achievement in interactive media to include four areas of competition: multiplatform storytelling, original interactive program (not tied to an existing TV show), social TV experience and user experience/visual design. Each will be presented at the Creative Arts segment of the Emmys, not on the main broadcast.

The juried award allows for multiple winners in its category if the judging panel deems them worthy (or no winners if the opposite is the case). The new category for top interactive program is a conventional head-to-head showdown. Each will be presented at the Creative Arts segment of the Emmys, not on the main broadcast.

Last year the interactive category presented its award to the Team Coco Sync App, tied to TBS latenight talker “Conan.” ABC.com won an interactive honor at two of the previous three Emmys, for 2011’s “Oscar Digital Experience” and 2009’s “Lost” companion “The Dharma Initiative.” NBC.com’s “The Jimmy Fallon Experience” has won multiple times.

— Jon Weisman

Submitted for Your App-roval

Here are five of the best interactive offerings released over the past year:

Sons of Anarchy

The third-generation app elevated this FX drama head and shoulders above the rest of the second-screen scene in time for its fifth season. It serves up a lot more than the usual array of trivia and episode information, including an e-commerce engine offering hundreds of merchandise tie-ins, and visually stunning navigation decked out like the series’ clubhouse setting. The app synchronizes companion content regardless of whether you’re watching live or recorded episodes, in addition to connecting to the fourth season on Blu-ray.

Disney Junior Appisodes

An appisode seamlessly blends the narrative flow of a TV episode with oodles of call-outs that get kids involved. Kids 2-7 respond directly to fourthwall-breaking questions from iconic Disney characters who “listen” via the iPad/iPhone/iTouch microphone. Expect lots of grimy fingerprints, too, as young viewers shake, swipe, tilt and tap the device in educational games interspersed throughout each appisode. Bowing last year as a free offering, Disney relaunched a $4.99 version earlier this month with multiple episodes.

Bravo Play Live

There are plenty of second-screen applications that allow for synchronized fun on the fly, but it’s rare to see any in which that interactivity is reflected back instantly on the first screen. Play Live allows viewers to respond to onscreen polls, questions and contests in which their input affects the tallies in real time from “Watch What Happens Live” to “It’s a Brad Brad World.” Participation TV has seen plenty of experimentation, largely through text-messaging, but this is a more seamless upgrade available via Web, phone or tablet.


Plenty of unscripted TV shows have companion apps, but here comes an iPad app that is an unscripted show unto itself. Braindex is a gameshow in which the player faces off against celebrity contestants, from Mike Tyson to Andy Milonakis, by attempting to answer multiple-choice trivia questions faster than they can. From Endemol-owned production company 51 Minds Entertainment and start-up TouchFrame, Braindex has the kind of simple but slick interface and cheeky spirit that make it mildly addictive. You won’t play just once.

NBA Game Time App on XBox Live

Game Time may be available everywhere from Android to Sprint, but it’s on XBox Live where b-ball fans can tap this app for the widest set of features, including navigation via the voice/motion recognition provided by Kinect or the second-screen wizardry of Smartglass. Use either to wade through video highlights, game recaps, live stats and, if you’ve got an NBA League Pass Broadband subscription, up to four live games at once. User experiences do not get any deeper in the living room.

— Andrew Wallenstein

More TV

  • Prince Albert II of Monaco (C),

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union's 'L.A.’s Finest' Opens Monte Carlo TV Festival

    Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival on Friday at a glittering ceremony at the principality’s Grimaldi Forum attended by Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. The Hollywood actresses presented the French premiere of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest,” which has just been renewed for a second season. “You typically [...]

  • Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba'L.A.'s Finest'

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union Speak About Horrific 'L.A.’s Finest' On-Set Accident

    Actresses Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba spoke about how the horrific accident on the set of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest” affected them and the crew at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival Saturday. They also paid tribute to the main victim of the incident, executive producer/co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier, whose leg was amputated below [...]

  • Emmys: How a Social Media Campaign

    How a Social Media Campaign to Game the Emmys Led to This Week's 'Block Voting' Scandal

    The Television Academy’s “block voting” controversy has quickly become the talk of Emmy season — and that appears to have been the org’s point. According to multiple insiders, the number of people disqualified from voting in this year’s competition is believed to be small, only around three members (out of nearly 25,000 members overall). But [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Drops Trailer for 'Veronica Mars' Revival (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Hulu dropped the official trailer for the “Veronica Mars” revival and HBO revealed more cast members for “Lovecraft Country.” FIRST LOOKS Hulu has dropped the official trailer for its revival of “Veronica Mars,” set to premiere on July 26. The series will bring back most of the original cast, including Kristen Bell, Jason [...]

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Viacom CEO Bob Bakish

    Bob Bakish Talks Pluto TV, Netflix and CBS-Viacom Merger Rumors

    Viacom CEO Bob Bakish knows that a lot of his peers are in the original content space in streaming, but he believes the company’s ad-supported free service Pluto TV is better off relying on Viacom’s library of content. “We can debate a lot of things about the future, but in the near term, the opportunity [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content