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Revolutionizing your Television Experience with the Second Screen


If you own an iPhone, iPad, an Android phone or a laptop computer, then you might be online doing something else even while watching TV. This is true of 80% of those who own smart devices and is somewhat of a phenomenon in terms of its scale and rapid growth.

Social TV

Television has always been a social media, primarily contained within living rooms for family or friends to hold movie nights. The Super Bowl in the US is a prime example, where the TV is the central point for watching the game while socializing with your friends.

However, TV started evolving to a virtual social experience with the advent of the hashtag, that slightly intruding visible element in the lower right hand corner of the screen during a program.

Tweeting while watching TV began this convergence once companies realized that people continued to use smartphones even while doing other things. This also involved going to other internet channels like YouTube to continue the experience they had on the first screen – the TV.

According to a recent study by Microsoft and Wunderman, 69% of multi-screen consumers feel that accessing similar content across different screens makes content more useful, relevant and informative.

Social TV provides greater viewer interaction both in real time and on a grand scale around popular TV programs. This also gives networks insight into how people are watching and consuming media that were inaccessible previously. As a result, networks such as The Discovery Channel are engaging in conversations with viewers and building a growing network of fans.

With its vast assortment of networks, including the Animal Channel, the company manages 70 Facebook fan pages with 40-million fans and 20 Twitter accounts with 2.4 million followers. Their philosophy on social media is “to use it as a platform that enhances the viewing experience and relationship with the viewers.”

What is Second Screen?

Entertainment companies are putting a lot of resources, thought and emphasis into a social application called Second Screen. The idea behind the app is to redirect your attention back to the main TV program or movie by creating a social network with the same interest, rather than losing you to an unrelated distraction like Facebook.

Most Second Screen apps require registration, thus capturing crucial user data and allowing you to chat with others watching the same program. Marketers can then analyze consumer behavior within these networks and engineer compelling advertising targeted to this audience on the basis of what they are saying. This is an opportunity for social listening analytics that goes beyond traditional.

Ads can be added by the app content producers using click-through to purchase, providing that additional advertising and merchandise revenue. Thus, a Second Screen Social Network is born for the broadcaster, advertiser, content provider or production company, and you are provided with a value-added experience that enhances your normal TV viewing. And you don’t even have to take the additional step of visiting a website; it’s provided in a seamless, effortless experience.

Some of the most popular apps include Miso and GetGlue. These sites provide an app that allows you to select the show of your choice and join the conversation with others in your network even if the show is not being aired currently. Both apps can be linked to your Facebook or Twitter community, allowing you the opportunity to interact with others who share a similar interest.

GetGlue goes a step further by adding music, movie trailers and books, so that users in the social networks can exchange thoughts and preferences about a particular channel or show in their online communities. It can be an extremely powerful marketing tool for music, film and TV producers, publishers or any company operating in the commercial media space. Marketing workflow and social listening platforms, such as those offered by TCS, can provide a wealth of important strategy communication back to the media companies.

With Tunerfish, Comcast is hoping to become the virtual “water cooler” where you gather to share what you’re watching on TV now, while the show is on, rather than the next day at work.

Tunerfish is a web and mobile app that includes its own database of television shows, making it easy to write and share comments with friends, imported from Facebook or Twitter.

Trend analysis tools let you see the videos and shows your friends are watching — as well as the ones they’re starting to ignore. This can be invaluable to networks and advertisers in focusing their products to the most popular shows.

What are broadcasters doing?


NBC has created its own social network app, offering access to selected shows within a central application. This is a free app offered through iTunes.

Its vision involves centralizing viewer experience within a centrally branded Second Screen, thereby creating greater loyalty to the network and offering you a broader social experience than a show-specific app. While independent app producers are creating specific show apps, NBC’s network-centric Second Screen portal has direct access to scripts, behind the scenes footage, director notes and is, therefore, closer to the whole production process, thus creating a richer experience for you.

NBC Fan It (Gamification)

Fan It is a social networking portal, where fans can log in and make comments about a show; both the app and Fan It provide a single sign-on.

NBC uses gamification to drive user behavior by dispensing points for participating in events and challenges, such as watching videos, commenting, playing games and performing specific activities in a given time. You can earn, accrue and exchange points for NBC goodies and merchandise.

The analytics available from both NBC Live and Fan It provide a much crisper view of audience behavior that can help focus advertising and marketing campaigns to target specific interests and impulses.

ABC - My Generation

ABC was one of the first to try out the Second Screen with this experiment on its property My Generation, in 2010.

This iPad app creates a seamless, two-screen, interactive television experience by bridging a cable / satellite connection and an iPad, by measuring analog sound waves using the iPad’s microphone. It looks for certain contours in the audio signal so that it knows when to display a particular poll or other item linking up with a precise moment in the show. 

This can also trigger ads or links on the Second Screen app, where an ad will be displayed on the primary screen first and then reveal more in depth content through the app.

BBC - Autumnwatch TV Companion

A few years ago, BBC launched a Second Screen experiment for the nature show Autumnwatch. However, it was created for a laptop and not a mobile device.

Since then, BBC has created the iPlayer and now recognizes the opportunity to develop the Second Screen app for mobile devices. Although the iPlayer currently works as a single-screen device, it already provides some complementary information such as character bios, show synopses, related shows and social integration.

In this white paper, we explain the concept of the Second Screen app and its ramifications on the broadcasting industry. We also discuss opportunities for additional revenue and how to improve audience engagement and refocus attention on the primary content.

Read White Paper: Second Screen Revolutionizing the Television Experience (PDF, 117 KB)

In Part 2, we examine some of the technologies that fuel the fire of this viewer engagement and become a part of the holistic approach to Second Screen.