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Research: TV’s second screen is for talking, not browsing

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More and more viewers are using companion devices whilst watching television. But new research suggests viewers are keener on some uses for those devices than others.

Twenty-four percent of viewers use a second device screen whilst watching TV, according to Deloitte’s UK survey of 2,000 people.

What are they doing with those devices?

Whilst nearly half of 16-to-24-year-olds use communication tools like email and social networks, only one in 10 of second-screeners browse the internet for information about the shows they are watching, Deloitte found.

This could suggest there is greater opportunity in second screens’ social dimension that in commerce and adjunct information.

Deloitte technology, media and telecoms director Paul Lee:

“Second screening’s impact is far greater in driving conversations about a programme, as opposed to interaction with it.

“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.”

11 Responses to “Research: TV’s second screen is for talking, not browsing”

  1. Jeff Bowman

    Interesting article. Thanks. One other thought to consider here is “why and when” are people using there devises during the program. There could be multiple reasons:
    1. This TV show is somewhat (or all TV shows are) “lame,” I’ll check Facebook and Twitter till we find something better
    2. I hate all these [email protected]#$%^ commercials, I’ll check-in on social media while they are one (assuming no TIVO in home or in use)
    3. The kids and wife love this reality TV crap, let’s see if I can find something interesting online while they watch this rubbish
    4. I want to know more (have a richer experience). Example: these Olympics are cool, but I wonder about the sports that the Americans/English are not featured in… awe, yes, fencing and weight lifitng online… “cool”
    5. Wow. What just happened was sooo cool, I gotta tweet about this. Wonder who else saw that (FaceBook)?
    I agree with others above that a richer, more in-depth survey of what people are really after while online during TV shows would be useful. It would help TV and online content providers deliver what people are really after (useful content/good entertainment) vs. pushing products on them. Jeff

  2. Reblogged this on The Many (Mis-)Adventures of Kittu Pannu and commented:
    I’m not really surprised about this finding. Based on myself and my own peers, I have noticed that many of us utilize the second screen to express opinions regarding a show or to socialize and generate our own “waves” about a particular topic. Social media channels such as GetGlue and Twitter really help boost this viewing phenomenon. Do you engage in second screen viewing?

  3. Phil Leggetter

    The key factor, for me, is that users are more likely to interact with their second screen device if they are prompted to do so. A check-in that they’re watching a program on GetGlue will inform their followers and kick-off a conversation. A comment on Facebook about a film they are watching also triggers an interactive conversational experience.

    Pushing content that is synchronised with the live event/flim/tv show that a user is watching does have the potential to be valuable. How many of us use IMDB whilst watching a movie or TV show? What have I seen that guy in before? ITV Sport did this during Euro 2012 – interestingly enough they pushed the content directly under the live video so they weren’t directly targeting the 2nd screen.

    Associated content also has the potential to kick off interactive experiences. This can be a single person experience, such as a quiz (e.g., or a multi-user game or chat session. Live interactions with a show or tv programme are also a very interesting concept.

    To my point: the survey seems to suggest that building a second screen application is expensive and means money is not being spend on the first screen. The fact is that platforms like Facebook and Twitter can already be used as the 2nd screen experience and all that is required is some marketing. Beyond that, building a more substantial 2nd screen application doesn’t have to be costly. Draw on existing platforms and live content and engagement services (such as, who I work for) that offer infrastructure that makes building these applications not only simple, but also inexpensive. The reduced cost leaves room for experimentation.

    Surveys are nice and very helpful but we’re at a stage where we should be seeing lots of examples of 2nd screen experiences – the platforms and infrastructure are in place. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be seeing amazingly innovative interactive and engaging 2nd screen experiences now.

    Phil @leggetter

  4. if people are not browsing while watching TV may be it’s because browsing is quite a tedious process. You don’t want to miss 5 minutes of the show (assuming you’re enjoying it) while looking for something on the web.
    Second screen is about delivering (pushing) to the user relevant content depending on what they are watching on TV.
    A lot of power on the programming side who’s deciding what’s relevant and what’s not, so it needs to be very weel thought out.

  5. Paul Mcgrath

    The question of information versus communication is totally valid.

    The industry needs more study ont he pros and cons of creating a second screen apps that provide a rich editorial narrative experiences (companions apps), versus creating a second screen apps that allow the viewers to chat (more social style apps).


  6. Survey results are not that informative. Kinda lazy study by Deloitte. They could easily take search, twitter and comscore data to determine social, browse, and other information taking place on second screens while watching tv programming.

    However, even more important than the the number of people that say they second screen is the fact that even if you have an iPad or iPhone we still turn the tv on. This is big!

    The iPad demographic that still watches tv is a great customer. They have money and are willing to spend it. Who cares about the % of people that are watching tv and not engaging with their devices? They are not rich, curious, nor can we even prove they are watching or engaged.

    Apple is the most valuable company in the world because a lot of people buy their things. Ignoring this demographic for many companies is just a bad idea. The question advertisers need to ask is, what % of iPad owners second screen? What % of iPhone users can I get to buy my stuff?

    The questions Deloitte asks don’t really help anybody. Tv programmers need to sell to advertisers. Second screeners have demonstrated they are willing to spend money. Advertisers need people that are willing to spend money.

    Bottom line, what is Deloitte’s agenda with this survey? Why are they surveying all people when they need to get data on important demographics that show they will buy things and watch tv too?

  7. I certainly agree with the findings as this is how it is used in our household when there are multiple viewers in the room. I do also think there will be moments when you are potentially alone where the browsing, play-along aspect will be used.