Taking the “second screen” beyond television

Posted on May 15, 2012 7:39 am by | Mobile | Social Media

Second ScreenThe “second screen” is gaining momentum.

Watching television, once the epitome of passive media consumption, has become an interactive activity. Instead of sinking deeper and deeper into the sofa, people are sitting forward, smartphone or tablet in hand, finding engaging content related to what they’re watching and conversing with other fans of the same show.

This week and next, the producers of the ABC series Revenge are planning a to entice people to watch the last to episodes of the season when they are aired, rather than catching it later on DVR or online, by offering a stream of activities that will be made available through the Into Now app. They’re hoping to buck the trend of on-demand viewing using the viewer’s device of choice.

While watching in real time, viewers using the IntoNow app will be able to vie for a week-long trip to the Hamptons, test their series knowledge with trivia quizzes, and access special content produced for the app, among other things. Of course, most of the social viewing apps make it easy to consume content and interact with other fans whenever you watch the show, when it’s first broadcast or later.

Another social viewing app, Miso, encourages user-generated content, allowing fans to create material other fans might enjoy while watching a show. A Fast to Create article quotes Miso founder and CEO Somrat Niyogi’s vision is of a new market of second-screen producers, “people that are creating content specifically for the second screen. Imagine a history expert that nows more about the 1960s than anybody at (Mad Men), that can say, ‘This is accurate, this is not accurate, that product never existed.’ There are people who will follow history experts across TV, who’ll say, ‘I have to watch this show, with this person.’” Miso calls this viewer-created content—for which it has built its own publishing platform—Side Shows.

Social viewing on the rise

Social activity during primetime has jumped 193% in the last year, according to Wiredset and Trendrr CEO Mark Ghuneim, and while that’s not all attributable to people using apps designed to provide a second-screen experience—viewers can be doing anything from identifying an actor on Internet Movie Database to checking the latest pictures on Instagram—the number of users of such apps is experiencing equally dramatic growth. Even new players in the field are gaining traction. Viggle was introduced only three months ago but has been downloaded 800,000 times. Users spend an average of 93 minutes each time they use Viggle, checking into five different TV shows.

Top Checked-In ShowsIt’s a big enough trend that AdAge reports on the week’s top checked-in shows on the leading social TV app GetGlue. No less a player than Facebook is giving the trend a serious look: Speaking at AdAge’s Social Engagement/Social TV conference, the social network’s head of entertainment and media said Facebook is ready to help brands and networks extend the buzz around television events.

As for the worry that the second screen will distract viewers from what’s on the tube, a recent Nielsen report reinforces earlier research that the practice augments the viewing experience rather than pulling viewers away.

Trend watchers don’t expect the surge of new second-screen tools to last. “Many of these companies will disappear over the next year as leades emerge in the space and capital dries up for these guys,” TVplus co-founder Randy Shiozaki told a Mashable Connect audience. “The innovative ones will get acquired.”

From the living room to the meeting hall

Perhaps, but so far, the second-screen concept has been applied only to television. Marketers and communicators should be drooling over the potential for other kinds of activities as more and more people develop the second-screen habit.

While apps developed to provide in-depth information for conference-goers are plentiful (offering agendas, maps, speaker bios and the like), we have yet to see an app that can host content for a specific event. From an external communications standpoint, consider an annual general meeting, which has been as passive for attendees as watching an episode of NCIS. An event app, however, could provide access to any set of numbers a shareholder might want to call up, the text of any matters being brought to a vote, and a wealth of other material. Sitting in the audience, any shareholder can find any company information that answers a question that might arise as the company’s leaders drone on through their usual AGM agenda, and even network with others in the audience.

Internally, there’s the town hall meeting, where employees gather to listen to leaders. An app that provides access to related presentations, speaker bios, information about the products and services under discussion, and other content would not only keep employees awake during what are often dreadful meetings can help make the sessions relevant and interesting. The app could also include polls related to the current subject being discussed from the stage.

The concept extends to virtually any event where people are seated, as long as they have a smartphone or tablet with them.

Just as Miso, GetGlue, IntoNow and Viggle accommodate any TV show, an app for business-related second-screen content could provide a platform for any number of companies’ meetings (for a fee, of course), allowing the organization to populate its “show” with any content it wants.

It would be easiest for the developers of the existing TV apps to modify them and release them under a new name for corporate use. It’ll be interesting to see who is first adapting the second-screen concept to business. That somebody will is inevitable as it becomes clearer that the second screen is the best way to get people engaged in what was once a passive experience.



  • 1.Totally agree about the 'somebody', but it's going to take a few years for that to completely shake out. It has to be second screen and universal/cross platform (iphone/android/mobile/tablet/laptop). Should be an interesting race!!

    svc | August 2012 | Vancouver, Canada

Comment Form
What is the four-letter acronym for the Society for New Communications Reseach?

« Back