Do you often find that it’s virtually impossible to sit down and enjoy a television show or movie without being distracted by your phone or computer? Do you tend to text or surf the Internet while watching your favorite shows? This multitasking lifestyle that many of us are familiar with is precisely what Chris Halligan had in mind when he came up with the idea for his company, OtherScreen.
While noticing that his son was more engrossed in his cell phone than the baseball game he was watching on T.V., Halligan began thinking more about the problem of audience engagement. In an effort to address this problem, OtherScreen provides a platform for people to incorporate their mobile devices into their broadcast television experience. By turning mobile devices into allies rather than competitors to broadcast television, the highly interactive OtherScreen allows people to engage in conversations with other viewers, answer trivia questions, and even give predictions all in live time while watching a televised program. Answering correctly earns you points toward the prize of a gift card. Essentially, OtherScreen turns watching television into a game.
Halligan’s inspired idea came to fruition when he met Garth Moulton and Andrew Gertig in Charlotte in 2010. The creative trio began kicking around ideas for a startup company and ultimately decided to pursue OtherScreen. Halligan believes that the issues that OtherScreen confronts are applicable to nearly everyone because people inherently desire immersion in the entertainment they choose. When people multitask while watching television, they simply don’t enjoy it as much. “Our goal is to drive audience engagement – that’s what we’re about.”
Though OtherScreen primarily focuses on solving the problem of audience engagement for television, Halligan notes that he and his colleagues see great potential for the benefits of OtherScreen outside of the entertainment industry, as well. With its ability to drive and measure audience engagement, OtherScreen can be useful in a variety of contexts, from corporations, to schools, to churches, and even bar trivia.
On the business side, Halligan sure knows what he’s doing. Once referred to by the Charlotte Business Journal as a “serial entrepreneur,” he believes that the secret to building a successful business from the ground, up is based on three simple factors: the right people, a good market, and a little bit of luck.
When talking about his experiences, Halligan certainly emphasizes the importance of teamwork. In fact, he claims that his biggest break in creating OtherScreen was meeting Moulton and Gertig. The OtherScreen team has since added two more members. Jim Van Fleet acts as the company’s CTO while Mike D’Avria works as OtherScreen’s Content and Community Manager. Halligan attributes much of OtherScreen’s success so far to the ability of his team to stick to their goals and continue improving. “Success can often be right around the corner and you can’t see it. You have to be tenacious, you have to be unwilling to quit.”
OtherScreen’s Labor Day 2011 public launch was made possible by the NC Idea grant that Halligan and his team won in Summer 2011. As one of five winners from a total of 110 applicants, they were granted $45,000 to create their app. Since gaining Fox Charlotte as their first client, OtherScreen has been contributing to daily television broadcasts from sports, to reality shows, to news programs.
Interested in trying out OtherScreen for yourself? Check out the website and play along.