Monterosa has created a set of tools, based on its experience with shows like Million Pound Drop, to enable broadcasters to create second screen applications to support their programmes with features including synchronised quizzes or audience polling. The company has partnered with Zeebox to enable users to interact using its application, as well as through widgets for broadcaster web sites and Facebook pages.
Co-founder and managing director Simon Brickle set up Monterosa in 2003, having previously worked at the BBC, which pioneered early play-along interactive programmes like Test the Nation.
Monterosa has since been working with British broadcasters to power social interactive television experiences through second screen applications, allowing near instant feedback to the studio or on-screen graphics.
One of its most successful collaborations has been with production company Endemol, working on the Million Pound Drop for Channel 4, which recently received a Broadcasting Press Guild innovation award, following the BAFTA for digital creativity it collected in 2011.
Monterosa is now planning to provide a self-service online platform to allow producers to create real-time interactive experiences around their programmes. This combines the scalable cloud-based services used by broadcasters including ITV and Channel 4 with a web-based control centre for producers. This will be integrated into the Zeebox Showtime tools, allowing producers to add features such as audience polling to their programmes.
Simon Miller, who heads product and content development for Zeebox, said the partnership offers “incredible potential to deliver a next generation of synchronous interactions around live TV.”
“In essence, we’re putting the creative control back in the hands of producers, giving them the ability to create extremely cool forms of social interactivity around TV content with a set of trusted online tools and services,” writes Tom McDonnell, the co-founder and commercial director of Monterosa.
He suggested that Zeebox was a logical partner because while it may be interesting to import relevant data from Wikipedia or iTunes, “that can feel a bit hollow if you don’t also have someone involved in the show crafting the second screen as much as they crafted the first.”
“I’m firmly of the belief that there isn’t any type of TV that doesn’t have an interactive slant to it in the future,” he added. While it may not be appropriate for all genres, he draws a comparison with phone-ins on radio. “Talk radio without a phone-in seems somehow wrong now,” he observed. “I think TV is headed in the same direction.”