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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Idea Ninja – Rob Riopelle and the future of Nano Gaming

I had the chance to chat with Rob Riopelle, Founder and Vice President of Business Development of LiveHive Systems about a really cool thing they’re developing called NanoGaming.

NanoGaming is a technology platform that lets viewers interact with live television and steaming video. Basically if you’re watching a certain show, you log on to the portal via your computer and  instantly join a live community of other users who are watching the show at the same time as you. You can meet new people via chat,  answer trivia questions, predict what’s going to happen next, and test your memory recall. The questions and answers are live and flow with the content. So if you’re watching a game and a really unfair call is made by the ref, you know that LiveHive community will be over it- instant debating! The more questions you answer correctly the more points you can win, which you can later redeem for prizes ranging from game tickets to cars!

They’ve worked on everything from Hockey on the CBC, Big Brother and even the Much Music Video Awards! (Someone has to keep those preteens occupied, otherwise things like this happen. Seriously, LiveHive is doing us all a public service.)

I like it because it creates an instant social community around content and provides sponsors with an unobtrusive way for users to interact with their brand without interrupting the viewing experience.

On “tackling” their newest venture:

(pun totally included because I’m awesome like that. )

RR: That project, we’re working with Nissan Canada and in conjunction with Capital C we’re working with all them to provide an interactive experience for the CFL (Canadian Football League). We’re offering it for all 70 games plus playoff games, it’s CFL.NISSAN.CA and they can engage in online competition. At the end of a contest you can win a trip to the Grey Cup with some spending money.

On false Interactivity:

I mentioned that on a recent trip to the States, I had seen some interactive capability through television digital cable boxes, where viewers could participate on live polls during their local news. I asked him how this interactivity compares with LiveHive.

RR: I think that’s a great example of interacting just to interact. People see that, and it’s sort of cool and then you try it. You have a $600 box, so they want to do more with it. They give their opinion once on a poll. How much fun is it to be counted in the poll? The fun comes in the chance that they used the new technology, but that’s a one shot deal. After that, they stop doing. With our platform it’s about creating value during the experience, where they are in a social environment, meeting people and winning prizes.

RR: We have tons of metrics behind our stuff, they come back and do it again and again and again. Not everyone is there every game, but other people come back every second or third game, but we do see high return rates compared to an on-air poll.

Why Two Screen Viewing is the Way to Go:

RR: If you look at typical interactive, people think of your typical set up, where you press the button on the set top box, but there are so much limitations. Limited functionality and real estate mean the interactive experiences are basic or light weight. How deep can you go by pressing up, down, left or right?

RR: When you get on to a two screen environment, you have a dedicated, powerful machine to provide a graphically rich experience and great content. Suddenly you can communicate via keyboard and talk to other people, meet and make new friends.

On live television and the battle over PVRs/Tivo’s

(Although, Canada doesn’t have Tivo up here, just one more little snubs in our rich history of technological shafts. I know I’m feeling sassy this interview!)

RR: We actually work to combat those things [PVRs, timeshifting], where we draw people back to live content because that experience is only available when it’s live. Especially the real-time components. Outside that window we do provide a limited experience for people. Before each event/show there are a series of questions that are trivia related so that people can jump on during the day, check in and comment on what is going to happen.

RR: So with PVRs and DVRs, this is something that the broadcaster has seen as positive because you can use this to ensure users are watching live, and for the full duration of the show. We glue people to the tv and to the computer. On average people are playing for 45 minutes for every hour of watching. So they can participate live.

On the Future of Television, and what LiveHive’s Future Mission:

RR: In five years, we’ll be the center point to interactively enable every show on TV. Instead of thinking which shows are interactive it’s just assumed, all shows are interactive. So no matter what show you’re watching you can just jump on, connect, and socialize withp eole who are watching the same show. Creating a central spot for every program

The Future of TV Advertising

RR: If you look at the advertising, it’s definitely clear, that the traditional 30 second spot are becoming less effective and you can see that most of the dollars are going online. So that does open the opporutnity for us to be a great advertsing platform. And that’s what we are, all of our projects involve a sponser, because they can get a lot of data as a result of peole sitting with your brand for a long time. So if there’s a touchdown, you can say “touchdown brought to you by nissan.” You can do other things as well, you can ask questions about the viewers themselves, you can ask in a poll “are you thinking about buying a car? ” That’s hugely powerful to be able to extract those questions, that’s highly valuable to the sponsers in volved in our porjects. You don’t overload them with questions, but you can definitely ask one or two questions per game to get that extra information about preferences or buying status.

Why I like it:

1) Making TV social again.

There used to be a time when we would all gather around the TV to watch our favorite prime time shows. I remember in University we used to reserve one of the lecture halls so we could watch LOST in agonizing suspense. Somehow it was always better when it was in a group. Then, we got the Apple Store, and time-shifting and PVRs so people got less inclined to get together and started watching TV in a more isolated way. I think LiveHive’s technology is cool because it brings some of that real time social elements. This could make watching live TV engaging again, because it’s the social aspect of the community that is drawing you in. Very cool.

2) Evolving the User/Brand experience

This is a much better way to interact with users, because you can target show demographics more precisely and be engaged with a large amount of people at once. So if you’re a car company targeting men, what better place to have them engage with your than through a hockey game platform? Forget a 30 second spot, they will be looking at your Logo for 45 minutes per every hour watched. Now there’s some bang for your buck!

3) A better TV Experience

This is the first step in eliminating commercials completely. One would hope at least. If the networks got involved – and they should- then they could shift interactivity with content online and use the sponsors to facilitate interaction. Everyone wins. Networks get people to watch their content without the temptation of channel surfing, viewers get engaged on connect because it’s a topic they care about, and advertisers get access to valuable information without interrupting. Win/Win. If they did this properly I bet you could make the same amount of money if not more via advertising maybe causing the evil Viacom to back off on all this copy righted material crap, allowing everyone to make funny Youtube videos in peace.

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