Recent surveys seem to suggest that people in the age group 16-24 are using social media or mobiles to communicate with each other while watching TV.
That news in itself has been around for a time, but it seems that these second screeners are discussing programmes with each other while they are being broadcast. As the second screen material is synchronised with the TV, so they are not just playing games but are actually communicating with others.
They are using iPads and smartphones to talk about what they are watching rather than simply interacting with it. That’s the new and evolving angle.
Accountants Deloitte have researched and found this phenomenon less prevalent among other age profiles. Their director of technology and media Paul Lee reckoned that doing the two screen thing (TV and one other) may become as socially acceptable as eating in front of the television has become.
But not among older people. It’s not just that they still, in the main, prefer eating at tables and without electronic company, but that they are the least persuaded by adverts in general, too.
Second Screens the New Norm?
As nothing stands still and as younger people grow older, that will change. Mobile Marketing reckons 62% of people overall are second screeners and over half of the 56-65s admit to engaging in second screen behaviour.
It’s the late teens and early twenties who are the most lucrative group for all advertisers by a significant margin. So, if second screening leads to a drop in the advertising they watch, then there will be a knock on effect on how much advertisers spend supporting TV programming.
Advertisers fear that youngsters distracted by two (or more) screens will lead to loss of concentration on their products.
Others disagree. Televisions are getting bigger and more versatile. There may not yet be an end of technological advances on tablets and smart phones, but the human hand is not expanding (though fingers may become more dexterous to operate the devices).
So, there is a view that television will continue to be the prime source of content, which then will move onto other media too.
The more adventurous are thinking that the second screen will evolve into more of a spin off vehicle for TV with chat shows, comment analysis, trailers, interactive responses and ideas, all ancillary to the main programmes.
The second screen will also be a perfect location for all the targeted ads they really want to get across, thus generating more revenue.
Part of the Lexicon
Already the term ‘second screeners’ (or parallel path) is being absorbed into the contemporary social fabric. It joins silver surfers and net generation as simple double word phrases that convey a category and social meaning.
There is an online magazine, Second Screeners which is about how ‘we share what we watch and consume in terms of content and leisure activity. Whether its TV, movies, theater shows, concerts, video games, or books, computer and mobile device experience sharing has changed the way we watch, listen, play, and read’.
Their view is that the ‘second screen’ connects people together. Seeing both a niche in the market and a social comment on the reality of digital devices, they argue that platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as second screen social sharing applications allow human beings to share their content experiences and offer ‘new opportunities for content distributors to engage the audience’.
Do you agree? How many screens do you run simultaneously?
Image: Jeremy Keith