Advanced Television

Deloitte: The rise and rise of ‘second screening’

August 20, 2012

The rise of ‘second screening’ – the use of other screens, such as laptops, smartphones and tablets while watching TV – is a source of excitement and concern for many in the TV and technology industry according to a new report from Deloitte.

Nearly a quarter of all respondents (24 per cent) use second screens. The most active second screening takes place among young people, nearly half of all 16-24 year olds use communication tools such as messaging, email, Facebook, or Twitter to discuss what they are watching on TV. The vast majority of over 55s (79 per cent) never talk about what they’re watching on TV on the Internet.

There is muted appetite for interaction with TV programmes. Only one in ten people browse the Internet for information about the programme they are watching. Some viewers (40 per cent) like being able to send their comments in to a live programme. However, 68 per cent would not want the websites for products, personalities or adverts that have just been shown on television, to automatically appear on their computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Paul Lee, director of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte, comments: “Second screening’s impact is far greater in driving conversations about a programme, as opposed to interaction with it. Second screening may well end up with a similar status as eating in front of the TV: an everyday experience for some; absolutely unthinkable for others. One thing is certain: it is here for good.

“Browsing the web whilst watching television is undertaken “frequently” by a third of the sample. This might be a brand new technology-enabled distraction or it might simply represent the swapping of an analogue distraction for a digital one. Browsing while watching television typically means flitting between a preferred set of websites, often comprising news, sports, e-commerce. Time spent on these may be a substitute for reading newspapers and magazines, or looking through catalogues.”

Any investment in second screen content is likely to reduce resources for the first screen, television content. So programme makers face a predicament. Should they invest all their funds and creative energies in making main screen content as good as possible? Or should they blend the first and second screen experience, creating more impact in the currency of additional or more attentive viewers, and therefore greater revenue potential?

Paul Lee concludes: “The challenge for second screen content today is that it is likely to be relatively expensive as we are still in an experimental, bespoke phase. Every pound spent on second screen content may be a pound diverted from the first screen; in order to justify the investment content creators need to get the balance right between all screens.

“In time, creating official second screen experiences should become more formulaic and more easily reduced to a template. The more standardised second screen content creation becomes, the easier it should be to attain a positive return on investment.”

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