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How 'Britain's Got Talent' iPhone app became an instant success

How 'Britain's Got Talent' iPhone app became an instant success


It is no mystery that mobile and TV are made for each other, but with so many technologies about – m-web, apps, messaging, mobile advertising, social media – it is hard to work out how to make best use of it.

So broadcaster ITV and programme maker talkbackTHAMES digital decided that they were going to put a toe in the water by developing an app for iPhone and iPod Touch to see how it panned out.

The app, built to offer users the chance to see behind the scenes footage, backstage interviews, galleries and a great 'play at home' red buzzer game, was developed purely for the iPhone and iPod touch so that the TV companies involved in the show could get a handle on the sort of demand for these adjunct services and to assess the challenges of developing the mobile channel.

Robert Marsh, Head of talkbackTHAMES digital, said, "In 2009, viewing figures for Britain's Got Talent were huge so we know the show is hugely popular nationwide. This year the launch of the App allows us to broaden our digital reach and to entertain and engage viewers on the move, as well as maximising value for our sponsors and advertisers."


The app was built using mobile internet and app publishing platform Kilrush Application Studios (KAS) and the mobile ads, served by 4th Screen Advertising, appeared on almost every page, generating significant response for the sponsor and advertiser. Both KAS and 4th Screen Advertising are part of MIG.

Despite being rolled out on the single OS and the fact that many think that apps are just a frippery, soon to be usurped by m-web, the Britain's Got Talent app demonstrates that there is a lot of leverage in just targeting devices other than just phones with TV apps.

"The service basically features web video content that the app downloads when initiated by the user to give it some exclusive content and we also added in a large red button that users could push and get a comedy buzzing noise, so that they could play along at home," says Ben Cusack, group marketing director at MIG.

"It also allows for Facebook and Twitter sharing and the whole package is sponsored by Dominoes, which gets dynamic ads all over the app that can initiate a pizza order."


It's quite something when a launch broadcast app becomes the most used app in its class, so its smiles all round at ITV, talkbackTHAMES digital and MIG as the Britain's Got Talent app – produced more than anything to test the waters for mobile interaction – gets more than half a million downloads and sees nearly 4 million individual sessions.

Downloads of the app started at 64,000 on the first weekend that the show was broadcast, growing steadily to a total of 538,367 by the time of the grand final. There are even some people still downloading the app after the show has ended…

The App has proved to be a rip-roaring success with huge interest from viewers using the mobile while at home watching the show and has shown app sponsor Dominoes Pizza the value of mobile branding around prime time shows such as Britain’s Got Talent.

The figures are all the more stunning when you consider that the app only ran over the seven weeks of weekly live auditions and then the six consecutive nights of knockouts and the grand final. Traffic peaked at the grand final - Saturday 5th June and again the following day when the final was repeated, having grown steadily over the seven weeks of build up

"For broadcasters this sort of thing is a great new revenue stream and shouldn't just be bundled into the digital revenue channel – it is show specific and offers great value to particular sponsors, as demonstrated by Dominoes," says Cusack.

"Nearly 50% of people using this app were on iPod Touches and predominantly they were at home using wifi. This fits perfectly with the show's 16-24 year old demographic and shows that ideas such as social TV really have legs."

In fact so successful has the Britain’s Got Talent app been that Cusack is now strongly advocating to Talkback, ITV and other TV companies not only that they develop apps for Ovi and Android as well, but that they look at how the role of the show-specific app can be developed further.

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