There’s still hope, though, according to a joint research study from the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Television Program Executives released last week.
Here’s what the study found. For starters, about 79% of second-screen viewers use a second device while watching TV shows. They primarily lean on it to access “asynchronous content” right before or after viewing, or in between episodes or seasons. Only 42% of second-screen users try to sync their mobile devices to live TV.
Even when users do tune in the additional content, they can take it or leave it. Most users said the synced content only made watching TV “somewhat more enjoyable,” deeming it “nice to have.” These findings suggest that viewers haven’t been convinced that they need second-screen content.
However, the study uncovered moments of opportunity for networks -- opportunities that lie in the ads. More than half of users who tap into synchronized second screen content do so during commercials. Perhaps then the real value for second-screen content is in delivering real-time ads on mobile phones that correlate to what viewers are watching on the TV or that offer engagement experiences to go deeper in the ads. (Many marketers, agencies and tech firms are exploring this possibility.)
Understanding consumer behavior on mobile devices will help marketers and networks as they refine their second-screen strategies. IPG Media Lab studied second-screen behavior late last year and found that nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds use their smartphones while watching TV at least once per day, and many are visiting social network sites during the commercials and the show. Tablets users ranging in age from 35 to 64 are most likely to use their tablets to dive deeper into TV programs they are currently watching.
There are efforts underway to better
connect mobile devices to TV. As an example, media agency SMG works with Twitter to study tweet patterns around a show, and has started
retargeting ads in near real-time to consumers who tweet about shows in near real-time.
The CEA and NATPE offer a handful of recommendations for networks seeking to improve their second-screen experiences, such as optimizing social networking opportunities for millennial viewers via contests and activities while targeting older viewers with voting related to reality shows, reaching parents with family content that allows for viewing interaction, and ensuring that second-screen content works well on smartphones.