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Your TV is officially the “second screen”

second screenIt used to be that when people talked about second screens, it was the tablet or mobile that was considered the second and the TV was first. Not anymore. According to a research report released by MEF,  the global community for mobile content and commerce, TV is now the primary second screen people use while they are using their mobile. Mobiles are the first screen now.

In the UK and the US, they found 55% of people watched TV while using their mobile to search the web. The MEF study correlates with another one performed by Nielsen in the US where smartphone owners reported TV was their main activity while using their device.

So what was the next most popular second screen? Another smartphone! It seems in the developing countries MEF included in their study, a second phone was the preferred second screen. This may be because of the low price point of some models whereas tablets (my preferred second screen) are too expensive.

There are a few other studies out there trying to help define and predict the second screen phenomenon. One performed by the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Program Executives (in the US) still views the TV as the primary screen and any mobile device as the second. They found that only 13% of viewers found the coordinated programs offered for second screens enjoyable. While the study was based on U.S. behaviour, it’s worth noting that making second screen content is still a new practice. It’s likely to take some time before content creators and advertisers really figure out how to make something appealing and enjoyable to a wide audience.

That won’t stop me from using my second screen just the way I have been for some time now. I use it primarily to search for things related to the programs I’m watching. Usually it is something like the lyrics to a song, to find out who a particular actor is or what else they’ve been in, or look up something from an advert. Sometimes it’s just to relax and play some games while a show is on. Rarely do I bother trying to use synchronized content – it just is too awkward in many cases.

Is your TV a primary or second screen for you? What’s your favorite second screen activity?

Oliver Burt

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