Inside look at the new 'Oxygen Connect' social TV platform

By Natan Edelsburg 

One of the big announcements at the NBCU Digital NewFront was the launch of Oxygen Connect, a social TV platform geared to take season two of The Glee Project to the next level by incorporating ways to have fans interact with the contestants throughout the season and competition. With Oxygen Connect, the network isn’t just going to curate content from the social web. They’re going to incorporate elements of the show and build on the success of the co-viewing experience (below) that’s been around since ’09.

We spoke with Jennifer Kavanagh, Oxygen’s SVP of Digital to learn the details behind the launch including how advertisers will be integrated.

Lost Remote: Why did you decide to launch Oxygen Connect?

Jennifer Kavanagh: Our audience is highly social and has been engaging with our shows and our talent real time via, our award winning co-viewing experience since 2009. Oxygen Connect gives us the opportunity to build on this and more directly reward fans for this level of engagement by giving them more exclusive access to talent and content. It’s allowing us to further fuel the fans’ desire to root for and connect with their favorite contenders, which is what drives the passion for the show.

LR: How will advertisers be incorporated?

Kavanagh: Advertisers will have the opportunity to sponsor features like weekly missions that encourage fans to complete actions that will allow them to unlock exclusive content, live web chats with contenders and earn exclusive badges. Via the Oxygen Connect app, they will also be able to sync brand messages with the second screen experience.

LR: What are the main social features?

Kavanagh: Beginning May 18, fans of “The Glee Project” will be able to sign up early to join “Oxygen Connect” using their Facebook account. From there, they will be able to invite Facebook friends and Twitter followers to join, create user profiles and unlock an exclusive video sneak peek of the new season.

Via the “Oxygen Connect: The Glee Project” mobile and tablet app, content such as polls, videos, ads and more will be sync’d to what’s happening live during the show. By participating in these experiences, fans earn the weekly chance to win a video chat session with their favorite contender. Fans will also be able to toggle back and forth between the OxygenLive chat and new interactive challenges. For advertisers, it’s a powerful opportunity to connect with Generation O in the moment and on every screen.

On “The Glee Project’s” season premiere night (June 5th), fans signed into “Oxygen Connect” will be able to participate in weekly missions tied to the theme of the episode issued via video by the series’ contenders. Mission tasks might ask fans to join a live chat, or share a sneak peek of the next episode. Fans who complete these missions will earn custom badges and maximum points toward a chance to meet their favorite contender face to face.

“Oxygen Connect” will also enable fans to vote for their favorite contender during the weekly “Last Chance Performance” using special #hashtags. Results will be displayed in real time on TV, and the performance with the most Twitter votes will be featured online as the “Last Chance Performance of the Week.” [the contender with the best last chance performance could get a cash prize of $10k]

LR: Are you trying to increase ratings with the digital offering?

Kavanagh: This experience is informed by a breadth of qualitative and quantitative information we’ve gathered through our social initiatives and our award winning second screen offering OxygenLive. Net, net, the more successful we are at deepening our audience’s relationship with our shows and talent, the better the show performs on all platforms. Aspects like the sync’d app, very specifically reward fans for watching live. Ratings are absolutely key and anything we can do to boost them by igniting audience passion is a win.

LR: Who did you work with to build it?

Kavanagh: We worked with – they have a great platform to help us execute on the vision for the audience.

LR: How is Oxygen Connect a unique example of social TV?

Kavanagh: We really wanted to differentiate our offering as an “earn to experience” platform. Many of the rewards for engaging are focused on bringing fans closer to the talent and delivering experiences that only Oxygen can deliver against this show. Creating meaningful emotional touch points was key.