The second screen phenomenon has exploded following the emergence firstly of mass market smartphones, and more recently of tablets.
'Second screen' has become the industry conversation topic of the last six months, with TV and handheld device manufacturers, broadcasters and programme makers all impacted by the trend.
Recent consumer research conducted in Europe by Futuresource as part of its Living With Digital tracker, shows that 62% of respondents say they use interactive devices while watching TV, with laptops and mobile phones topping the list of most commonly used equipment, and tablets rising fast. Perhaps not surprisingly, this figure rises to 85% of respondents if you consider just 16 to 18 year olds, but even among 56 to 65 year olds still more than half of the respondents use a second screen.
Typically around 25% of consumers across all age groups are surfing online to find out more about the programme they are watching. However, the majority are involved in completely unrelated activities with checking emails, general web surfing and online shopping high on the list of distractions.
As smartphone and tablet ownership grows and all the projections show that this growth is not being interrupted by the economic hardship currently endured in Europe, the usage of a second screen device is going to expand. Current projections show that the number of people in Europe using a smartphone will nearly double between the end of 2011 and end 2015. Tablet owners, meanwhile will grow more than fourfold.
(Click in chart to enlarge Source: Futuresource)
According to Futuresource, the challenge for the content community and just as importantly, advertisers, is to try to boost the 25% who are extending their engagement with the TV programme they are viewing and perhaps turn it into a revenue generating opportunity, via voting or perhaps the sale of tickets.
This also seems like an opportunity to developers who might, for example, consider creating games to complement TV watching. And the fact that so many people now consider TV-watching to be a backdrop for online activities they consider more important, is something to take into account when you develop your next smartphone app.
Second screen and its impact across the entertainment industry will be discussed during the forthcoming Future of Entertainment Summit to be held in London on June 20, 2012.