How Mark Cuban's AXS TV is using social and the second screen

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

When we interviewed Mark Cuban in May about HDNet and Bikini Barbershop it was right before the network transformed to AXS TV. Over the summer, the change took place and now AXS TV is all about live programming. While popular shows like Dan Rather Reports remain the network’s mission is all about bringing the best and most interesting live music and more to cable. AXS is also working with Mobovivo, a second screen company on “AXS TV Fights” a compliment to their mixed martial arts programming.

AXS has already built an impressive presence on social as they rebrand themselves as the “the premiere television destination to live LIVE with the best events in pop culture, biggest acts in music, and hottest breaking news and trends in entertainment.” On Twitter, @AXSTV has amassed almost 13,000 followers, which Cuban says is a result of their live programming that’s built for a social media environment.

Trevor Doerksen, the CEO and founder of Mobovivo is a former producer turned tech entrepreneur. Their clients include production companies and they are working with TV companies across the globe. They build the AXS app (for iPhone and iPad) on their StayTuned Companion App platform. On their website, they tell prospective customers boldly, “don’t lose TV audiences to email, Facebook and Angry Birds.” We spoke with Cuban and the launch of AXS and with Doerksen about his social TV company.

Lost Remote: What’s the biggest change to the network since the rebranding to AXS?
Mark Cuban: Our focus on live programming, from Live Concerts to our live show about music and pop culture , AXS LIVE and our focus on doing more live events than any other network

LR: What programming will continue? What programming isn’t?
Cuban: Most of our produced programming will go away, the goal is to be all live all the time.

LR Do you think social media buzz can affect ratings?
Cuban: Of course it can. The combination of TV and social media is stronger than the connection between the internet and social media. Twitter, FB and TV are about immediacy, zero latency. We all experience it all at the same time.
The internet is about on demand, which is not nearly as conducive a partner for social media as tv. Which makes AXS TV and social media a great partner.

LR: There are many players in the second screen space, why the decision to work with Mobovivo?
Cuban: They know the space cold. They are great software developers and even better at understanding the client.

LR: How has @AXSTV already amassed a large following? How are you personally involved in promoting the network? Plans to launch scripted content?
Cuban: Our viewers are watching live content which is very conducive with interacting in social media. When we have a live concert, fight or AXS Live on, its all about getting our viewers to participate. Which is why our social media participation is far better than networks much bigger than us.

LR: What does Mobovivo do in social TV?
Trevor Doerksen: Mobovivo has developed a platform for publishing companion content to broadcast television. The platform integrates social conversation, user-generated photos and videos, gamification, and information synced to television. When an actress, athlete or product shows up on the television screen their Twitter feed and background info and photos pop up automatically on your smartphone and tablet.

We work with networks, producers and brands to create engaging user experiences that allows viewers to keep their heads up and hands down. We deliver VOD, Gamification, Achievements, Social Chat, Sentiment, Broadcast Sync, Video Clipping, and UGC and our clients manage the companion content through a content management system. The platform is called StayTuned and it integrates with Facebook, Twitter, and other check-in and Social TV platforms.

It was launched officially several weeks ago and was built from the ground up by some of the greatest minds in gaming, media, and television.

LR: Who are some of your clients?
Doerksen: AXS TV, E1, Epitome Pictures, Alliance Films, and Reckless Films.

LR: How does the AXS app work
Doerksen: There are two parts to the AXS Fights App. The first is what we call front screen.
It is what users see between broadcasts. This contains exclusive video and news content. Previews the upcoming broadcast. Contains schedule, subscription, and background information. The all-time leaderboard is here and the ability to chat in Facebook, Twitter and in-app. In-app chat is popular for viewers to talk smack during the show. Twitter and Facebook between the shows.

Users are encouraged to share to earn badges and extra points. Outside of sharing and chatting the most popular feature of front screen is video.

[The] Second Screen [part]: During broadcast, the apps jump right to the voting panel and users can vote on results and earn extra points for choosing the round or method of victory. Viewers are given reminders to vote in every round each fight and other information included user generated photos and videos from the live event are placed in the time bar for the viewer to interact in real-time. Viewers can check athlete stats, leaderboards, and how others have voted. Chat, Twitter and Facebook are integrated. The most popular features are voting and the time bar.

LR: What are the social features?
Doerksen: Chat, Facebook, Twitter. Voting sentiment. Live event UGC integration into home viewer experience.

LR: How will this help with the network’s rebranding?
Doerksen: I have been told by AXS TV that there focus is all about live. This app is about a live experience – from ringside to home viewer. AXS TV brand is in the pockets and tablets of viewers and they are coming back, checking scores, schedules, and broadcast previews. Checking out exclusive content and getting ready for broadcast.

LR: What’s your background?
Doerksen: I’m a former TV and film producer. Started off making snowboard films. Ended up with an M.Sc. and got pretty technical as I continued to produce a science TV series. Mobovivo came out of converging technology with TV.