Technologies have changed the way we consume video content: we now lean back to do something else on a phone while watching our favorite show. Dubbed as second-screening, this multitasking behavior presents big opportunities for broadcasters and brands. In this post, we will discuss them in detail.

Second Screen Definition and Audience

What Is a Second Screen, Anyway?

A second screen is a smartphone, tablet or laptop a viewer is using while watching video content on their first screen, which is usually a TV but can also be a computer. The viewer may be looking up actors or sharing show-related information with the help of interactive web and mobile apps.

Who Are They, Second-Screeners?

According to the Screen Wars study conducted by Nielsen, 62% of Americans surf the web while watching video programming. A study from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) found that millennials are championing this trend with over 75% regularly engaged in the habit. Here are more numbers to prove millennials’ penchant for second screening:

  • 71% engage with social media while watching video content
  • 70% watch content on another device during commercials

Let’s now take a closer look at the most widespread second-screen behaviors.

Popular Second-Screen Activities

The CTA study identified several typical scenarios when people use second screens:

  1. To find out more about the content they are watching — 50%
  2. To do something else during commercials — 48%
  3. To participate in social media discussions, related or unrelated to the programming — 43%

А study by Facebook and Millward Brown provides a more granular breakdown of the most popular second-screen activities performed while watching live primetime TV and during commercial breaks:

ActivityDuring commercialsDuring TV show
Check email82%70%
Visit a social media platform71%64%
Text/send pictures to/call someone43%32%
General internet searching37%29%
Shop online28%26%
Use instant messenger service25%26%
Do work-related tasks17%16%
Look for information regarding the TV show16%9%
Read an article/post15%16%
Interacted with the TV show I was watching10%11%
View a product/brand that was advertised during a commercial break16%9%

Source: Facebook, “From One Screen to Five: The New Way We Watch TV”

Moreover, all second-screen activities can be divided into active, like playing a game, and passive ones, like searching for additional information about the show. According to Glenn Hower, Research Analyst at Parks Associates,

Most consumers favor a passive second-screen experience that complements the already immersive first-screen experience versus the highly interactive apps that typified the first phase of second-screen solutions. Second-screen users are more likely to engage in supplemental activities, like looking up information while they watch TV, as opposed to social media activities.

Glenn believes that these types of apps can be especially beneficial to content providers, data aggregators, advertisers, and service providers. Let’s now have a closer look at these benefits.

Benefits of Second Screen for Businesses

Audience Engagement and Brand Awareness

Second screening presents endless opportunities for increasing real-time interactivity both during show time and commercials. For example, broadcasters can let audiences:

  • Look up information about actors, characters, teams, players, leagues, and more
  • Participate in the show through polls and games
  • Check-in to the show or channel and share opinions with friends
  • Purchase products they see on the screen
  • All these activities have the potential to generate additional buzz among viewers.

Real-Time Feedback and Data Collection

By enabling viewers to get and share content-related information, broadcasters can capture and analyze sentiments and instantly enhance real-time shows. In games like Millionaire, they can also let viewers bet on questions and ask them for basic demographic information. In the long run, all this data will help broadcasters better understand audiences and provide more personalized recommendations.

Increased Ad Revenue and Opportunities

Second screens’ ability to boost interactivity and gather viewership data provides brands and agencies with the opportunity to launch effective advertising campaigns.

Take, for instance, PepsiCo, who partnered with WinView Inc. to show their ads during NFL games. This way, the company targeted the young male football fans who were hard to reach with traditional TV commercials. The app itself allows viewers to make live predictions when the game is on TV and rewards the most accurate players with cash prizes.

Bottom Line

As long as viewers use additional screens while watching video content, broadcasters and brands will be able to reap the benefits of this growing trend, including increased brand awareness, audience engagement, and ad revenues.

Whether we take this opportunity to the next level depends on the ability of business and second-screen developers to join forces and create apps that will keep audiences truly engaged.