Univision isn't giving up on second-screen apps

The fight for the second screen was definitively won by Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter, leaving network-created apps in the dust. But Univision isn’t ready to give up the fight, at least when it comes to live events.

The Spanish-language broadcaster is seeing if it can appeal to hard-core fans of live events with a dedicated second-screen app that goes beyond the chatter on Facebook and Twitter. Univision’s “La Banda” music competition last month wrapped up its second season — and its first with a mobile companion app, called Conecta, which let viewers vote on contestants, request songs and play a fantasy-style game. The app was sponsored by Verizon.

Univision purports 80 percent of people who used it at least once returned to the app over the course of the season, and the average time spent on the app was 26 minutes per session. Peak activity occurred during the finale, when the app received nearly 200,000 visitors across the finale’s three-hour period and averaged 114,000 concurrent visitors at any given time during the three-hour broadcast, according to the network. Based on the show’s Nielsen rating, that would mean about 4 percent of viewers used the app.

Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but they’re enough for Univision to push ahead. The network’s next second-screen effort will happen later in 2016, tied to its beauty pageant competitions series “Nuestra Belleza Latina.”

“It’s important to have a live connection with a viewer in a way that’s both personal and real time,” said Mark Lopez, executive vp and gm of Univision Digital. “They have to have a voice and decide what goes on in the show. That’s the only way we can build a critical mass of users for the app.”

Univision worked with developer Screenz to build the app and had a total of 10 staffers dedicated solely to managing the app.

Second-screen mania has mostly receded as programmers give in to chatter happening on large-scale social platforms. Other networks ranging from AMC to MTV, as well as third-party apps like GetGlue, Viggle and Zeebox, have tried to crack the second-screen nugget. Few remain.

According to Lopez, these earlier efforts by broadcasters and third-party second-screen companies didn’t work because the services felt secondary. “When you look at ‘La Banda,’ the second-screen experience was integrated into the actual content of the TV show,” he said.

NBC’s “The Voice,” which also has voting and other interactive features, was downloaded 260,000 times in December, according to Apptopia. In the same time frame, the Conecta app was downloaded 88,000 times.

“A lot of [Univision viewers] do watch these shows live,” said Alan Wolk, senior analyst at The Diffusion Group. “It’s a cultural thing; the Latin audience is much more into mobile and social, and they see better results because of it.”