The Million
Pound Drop

Making one of the most awarded
second screen TV experiences

Background

TV shows with second screen content seem quite common these days but in 2010 it was pretty unique. One of the first shows on UK TV to use it to critical acclaim was The Million Pound Drop (MPD) on C4. Viewers are invited by the host of the TV show Davina McCall to play along in real time with the live quiz show. Players can use Web or Mobile applications to do so. Monterosa working with Endemol and C4 were responsible for the second screen experience.

Challenge

The show's mechanics of moving money in a time-pressured situation helps give MPD its suspenseful edge. How could we let play-along players also get a sense of that urgency, without being distracted from the show itself?

My Role

  • Product Design & UX Lead at Monterosa

Responsibilities

  • Interaction design
  • Ideation workshops
  • User experience design
  • User flows, wireframes and storyboards
  • Stakeholder presentations
  • Collaboration with design director over UI
  • Collaboration with tech and production team over development

Process

In 2010, I was responsible for redefining the play-along app. Initially, there was only a web-based application built with Flash. The application for the first season of the show (built by a third party) didn't give players much sense of urgency. Additionally the mechanics used to move money was noticeably different from that of the TV show.

My first task for the second series was to fix the way players interacted with the UI. Convinced that if we could make the way you played intuitive then the game would become more realistic and fun to use. As such I emulated the money dragging behaviour that the TV contestants had to do themselves.

I also focused my attention on the rhythm of the show. I wanted the online players to be in no doubt as to when to look at the app and when to watch the TV. I designed in areas to the app where there was little to interact with to reassure users they could look at the TV without missing anything.

The changes I made for the second series made a huge difference to the experience and we saw a large spike in users.

Over the next four years, I was responsible for designing many incremental changes and improvements to the play-along experience. These also included social elements such as rooms and leaderboards, and nudges to sign up to the C4 identity service.

By 2013, there were also native apps for both IOS and Android offering 24/7 play modes. Players of this 24/7 mode could pay to unlock content and get bonus question packs. Playing MPD anywhere and at any time was now possible.

Outcome

MPD attracts up to 12.5% of the TV audience to play along with the show on a regular basis.

It went on to win over 10 industry awards, including a BAFTA for Digital Creativity in 2011.

The mobile apps have now had over 3 million downloads.