Fate Of Second-Screening Still Being Determined

No question second-screening offers networks and advertisers enormous potential. It’s pretty simple: get viewers intrigued enough with what’s on TV that they’ll interact with it simultaneously on another device.

Using an app, viewers could be interested in accessing additional program or advertising content. Or, the chance to tweet about a show/product and follow others’ takes in a central hub. Or, to participate in a poll that provides entry into a sweepstakes.

It’s all about building engagement.

Networks are touting their real-time synching opportunities – basically: point an iPad at the screen and voila – constantly now. But is the rush of publicity more of an inside-the-industry thing rather than a response to consumer hunger?

It is early in this emerging movement. But has a network released data on how many viewers are using a second-screen app to watch and interact at once? When data is promising, networks usually move quickly to release it. Perhaps NBC has auspicious numbers from its Olympics experience that will be released soon.



Second-screening can carry two definitions. One is wide: just surfing the Web on any device while watching TV, even if the surfing is unrelated. The other is the newer concept of using the synch apps for live, opt-in interaction.

Based on a Deloitte/GfK survey in the U.K., young people are talking about shows they're watching on second screens. About half of 16-to-24 year-olds use messaging, email, Facebook or Twitter to comment and exchange thoughts about what they’re viewing.

Other data from the online research may be far less encouraging for a network or advertiser. The survey found only 10% of all people surf the Web for information about a program being watched. (Of course, 10% of an audience for a show with 15 million viewers isn’t bad.)

Other discouraging news for networks building those fancy second-screen apps: The survey found 68% “would not want the Web sites for products, personalities or (ads) that have just been shown on television to automatically appear on their computer, tablet or smartphone.”

Of course, it is a survey. How many people generally answer: show me more ads and make me feel like you’re tracking my behavior?

5 comments about "Fate Of Second-Screening Still Being Determined".
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  1. Tom Cunniff from Tom Cunniff, August 29, 2012 at 7:42 a.m.

    In my opinion, marketers will get the best results by recognizing and building on *why* consumers are watching TV. It's not because they want to spend more energy "engaging" (whatever the hell that means. It's because they want to be entertained. If second screen apps serve that need, they have a chance to succeed. If not... probably not. There is both promise and peril in Social TV. More about that in this two-part post here:

  2. Matthew Greene from WiOffer, August 29, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.

    David - Good job at explaining the fact 2nd Screen, or more rightly, SocialTV has not yet caught fire.

    Tom's comments above are partly right.

    The larger issue has to do with the 'original sin' conceptually. Do consumers really want to spend even MORE time watching TV? Do they really want to 'socialize' programming by commenting, posting to FB or dedicated SocialTV app, make a game out of watching reality TV? Perhaps some do - I sure don't.

    The other deeper issue has to do with the fact that the Networks, Programmers and Cable/Satellite Operators simply lack the innovative horsepower on how best to harness 2nd Screen in useful, engaging and productive ways. I suspect that this phenomenon is also attributable to a fear of not wanting to cannibalizing their core business. This, I'm afraid, is causing 2nd Screen Strategy paralysis in the corporate hallways.

    Frankly, their lack of vision and concerns about their core business risks provides wide swaths of opportunity for companies like mine - WiO.

    Watch for our launch SEPT 10th. See how our approach to marketing the 2nd Screen opportunity to consumers will help raise all boats in this nascent medium.

  3. Dean Fox from ScreenTwo LLC, August 29, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.

    Time to accept today's reality: more than 80% of the audience has another screen in hand while they are watching TV. Whenever they are bored (commercial breaks, especially), today's audience shifts focus to the second screen, to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email, text, shop, read - anything but watch what's on the first screen. Today, it's not just millions of flushing toilets and opening refrigerator doors - it's the unlimited interactive content running on millions of tablets and smartphones. Is anyone really watching when your spot is running?

  4. Mick Darling from, August 29, 2012 at 12:54 p.m.

    I think there is a bit of cognitive dissonance between the way TV execs think about attention and technology people do.

    The questions about TV are all about time. How many people are watching at this hour? Are they increasing or decreasing in viewership over the hour a show is on. What is the best time to out an ad break to get the most people to watch it?

    The questions in tech are about pixels, and more and more about interactivity. How big is the banner ad? How much space on the main page is ads versus content? How can we get people to be more engaged? Can we get them to Facebook, and Tweet about this and have their friends do that too? Can we make this "Go Viral"?

    Now that we are mixing the two sectors, and ways of thinking, of course things are going to seem a little mixed and uneven.

    I am a technology guy, and think as long as we have the audiences' attention, we can do something constructive. The key is if the pixels and the interactivity are tied to the video on the big screen, then you still have some knowledge and opportunity to interact with the viewers. If they are using some random web page, you have lost an opportunity to engage the audience and they will look at someone else's pixels.

    My company Tomorrowish takes thing a step further and helps engage the ever growing audience of time-shifting viewers.

  5. Bill Chambers from Bright Chapel Financial Services, August 29, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.

    Yep. Watching the US Open right now. The ubiquitous instant replay really accomodates attending to multiple screens.

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