There is a considerable amount of hype around the second screen experience for television and film. The basic idea is that we are fast becoming a culture that simultaneously consumes both:
- The big screen of our living room flat screens
- The small screen of our tablets and smart phones
The recent numbers from Nielsen seem to back up this idea. About 40% of us are using tablets or smartphones while watching TV.
Second Screen Apps
Those numbers are being used by a lot of app developers to justify the creation of a new breed of apps, one that gives a second screen experience for your big screen viewing. The justification is a bit of flawed logic, most of us are multi-tasking while we’re on that second device. Although some people might be looking up an actor on IMDB or checking sports stats of the team currently playing, most of us are checking email, Facebook or browsing online content that isn’t related to what we’re watching on our TV.
Our second screen behavior is mostly a reflection of our extremely busy world. Mobile devices are one of the tools we use to stay on top of a continuous flow of data. They allow us to be in constant communication with our social networks and information sources. It isn’t anything new, the clichéd vision of someone reading a paper and eating breakfast has been replaced with that same person eating breakfast while reading news feeds on their iPad.
Modern life is about trying to juggle multiple activities; the second screen has just become another tool to facilitate that. The real problem to solve is how to get those viewers to stop checking their email and start looking at content on their small screen that is related to their large screen. The developer that figures out how to engage viewers in an app that provides an augmented viewing experience is going to be in a unique position.
The advertising industry is always trying to figure out how to get someone’s attention and deliver a message. If you’ve found a new location for people’s attention you’re going to find advertisers interested in buying a piece of that real estate. Although the second screen has the potential to provide new channels for storytelling it is probably the people focused on driving consumer behavior that are going to determine the direction of much the initial development.