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How to create a TV app

10 December 2010

What’s the key to creating and monetising an app successfully?

Here’s the views of four experts, who’ve worked on the launches of some high profile apps for programmes such as Supernanny, Britain’s Got Talent, Top Gear and Doctor Who.

Mel Alcock
CEO, EMEA, FremantleMediaEnterprises
An app should not only be entertaining but a genuine extension of the TV show. It should use what makes the show popular as the cornerstone and offer fans a truly engaging experience. Game shows and reality shows do well as they are naturally engaging and have an inherent interactivity. I don’t think you can put a price on a successful app, it is all dependant on what you want the app to do. They can be a great source of revenue but they are also a great promotional tool. The very first app for Britain’s Got Talent was a huge success. Over half a million viewers downloaded the free app and it topped the app charts throughout the series.

Jilly Cross
Head of business development, ETV Media Group

Apps aren’t cheap in terms of both developer costs and time, so a robust ROI model is essential. Apps that make money tend to fall into one of two camps, utility or game play. TV formats with content across one or both of these will create a higher perceived value, making consumers more likely to pay either for the app or for updates. You also have sponsorship or ad revenue streams to consider. Promotion is often an overlooked area – linking an app with a new series is a no-brainer, but setting up other on and offline marketing channels is crucial to success.

Daniel Heaf
Digital director, BBC Worldwide

BBC Worldwide will launch paid-for mobile and tablet gaming apps off the back of Top Gear, Doctor Who and Teletubbies this Christmas. Keys to success are tight editorial integration with the TV show to ensure it feels like a natural extension of the brand, deep and highly visible cross promotion with our commercial services and finally offering something unique and bespoke. Games are just one area we’re experimenting with and it’s still early days – there is still plenty of innovation left in the ecosystem. I believe companies to keep an eye on are those thinking about navigation and recommendation apps.

Simon Meek
Head of digital and multiplatform, Tern TV

The key to creating a great app is to first take a giant step back and ask the simplest of questions: ‘why am I doing this?’ If the response is that ‘everyone else is doing it’, well that’s as good a reason as any not to. The other response that should send alarm bells ringing is the ‘we’re going to make huge amounts of money’, and even worse if that sentence is coupled with referencing the success of apps like Angry Birds or Flight Control. The important thing is not to try and do more than you can afford. If your app falls short of the mark, digital audiences are quick to criticise, and if the product is buggy or just not that good, a poor user rating will quickly seal the fate of an app.

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