October 11, 2012

Major study points to bright second screen future

A joint study of 2,000 UK consumers by broadcast services specialist Red Bee Media and the consulting firm Decipher has revealed some very encouraging trends for second screen engagement, including clear opportunities to commercialise it. The most important findings are:

•    Half of respondents said they would be more inclined to engage with a TV show if they could access it from their smart device.

•    78% think smart devices are a better way to engage with their favourite TV shows, with the most appealing functionality being the ability to respond to TV shows through polls or voting (55%) and the ability to participate or influence a show by playing along (52%).

•    Respondents who have used or currently use synchronous companion apps rate them very positively.

•    56% of respondents are open to receiving targeted ads through synchronous apps based on products featured on TV.

•    30% would be more inclined to engage with ads if offered via a smart device while they are watching TV.

•    40% would be willing to receive offers or promotions on their smart devices based on products featured on TV.

•    Perhaps surprisingly, one-quarter would actually pay for a synchronous companion app, at an average cost of £1.27 per app.

•    Social media plays a role in helping viewers to decide when to watch a programme. One-third of smart device owners said they are more likely to watch a show live rather than on-demand if there is significant social buzz around that programme. [While this finding has implications for all TV and not just for ‘second screen’, most commentators expect the majority of social media functions to be performed on a companion device rather than the main television screen. The potential role of ‘social’ in second screen to drive live viewing is therefore clear.]

Stella Medlicott, Chief Marketing Officer at Red Bee Media, unveiled the findings during MIP earlier this week. The Red Bee/Decipher study does highlight the current uncertainty among viewers about where to find TV related synchronous apps. It reports that 29% of respondents would look to a TV channel or platform as the app aggregator, while 21% would search for apps individually.

The study confirms that multi-tasking is already a reality, with consumers using other connected devices while they are watching TV. They are not always watching or interacting with television on them, of course. Even in the over-55s, multi-tasking is commonplace. Half of them have used a smartphone or tablet while watching TV, an increase of more than 250% in the past two years. The most common activities for these older dual screeners are browsing the internet (56%) and emailing (50%). 34% of over 55s also use a second screen device to check Facebook while watching TV.

This is where the second screen opportunity began: the chance for media companies to turn that online attention towards something related to what they are watching on the main screen, possibly with real-time synchronisation. As the study reveals, people are already performing online actions that are related to programming, but not ‘officially’ connected. Looking at all ages, the study found that 52% of respondents have used a second screen to find out more about a TV programme. 44% of dual screeners already use a secondary screen to find out more about brands or advertising.

Stella Medlicott comments: “There is no doubt that dual screening is here to stay. This new behaviour represents a fantastic opportunity for broadcasters, platforms and content owners to take their engagement with viewers beyond the primary TV screen and monetise it. The challenge for us, though, as an industry, is to understand how we can work together to devise a business model that works right across the value chain.”

A buzz map, displayed via Red Bee Media's RedPlayer platform. This kind of information could help drive viewing choices, especially via second screens

Nigel Walley, MD of Decipher, adds: “The exciting thing is that the numbers are all going upwards: people who own a smart device, the apps available which relate to TV, the number of TV programmes that explicitly promote some form of second screen. This all adds up to a growing consumer base who are engaging with TV through companion devices. The challenge for the industry is to capture and commercialise this activity. What our research showed is that there are different kinds of commercial opportunity depending on your position in the value chain. Exciting times.”

Red Bee Media is one of the world’s leading media management companies, providing multi-platform technology and creative solutions to broadcasters, content rights holders, platform operators and brand owners. Decipher is a respected media consultancy. Decipher MD Nigel Walley will be leading a Breakfast Briefing about second screen at the forthcoming Future TV Advertising Forum and you can find out more about that here.

Related stories:

What consumers do with their zeebox app - video interview with Anthony Rose, Co-founder and CTO at zeebox

Operator apps will be the gateway to second screen experiences  – video interview with Nigel Walley, MD at Decipher

Red Button at the heart of BBC’s connected and second screen future – video interview with Daniel Danker, General Manager, On-Demand at the BBC

If you care about the companion screen, we have an entire section of our web archive devoted to ‘Companion TV’, including recent stories about the BSkyB umbrella app, French broadcaster M6′s second screen ambitions, and how ITV is excited by second screen prospects. Videonet’s ‘Companion TV’ archive.

Second screen definitions

Here are the definitions that Red Bee Media has been using for the second screen/companion marketplace (and which they will have used for the survey).

Dual Screening – The broadest definition of second screen use, this covers any activity using a second device undertaken whilst watching TV. Users may be checking the local weather, news or sports results or sending an e-mail whilst watching a TV programme. This is a 21st century version of reading the paper while watching TV.

Synchronous Activity – Activity on a second device related to the TV show being watched. This refers to any second screen activity prompted by the TV.  Integration with content can be tight, such as engaging with a debate via a non-TV service, such as Twitter, or loose, such as looking up weekend listings for the TV channel.

Companion Experiences – Activity on a second device specifically created by the maker of the service/content you are watching for use with that content as part of the entertainment or viewing outcome. This extends to any experience provided by the TV industry that acts as a counterpart to your TV consumption, delivered on a second screen.


And for what it is worth, here is how we are treating this subject:

We are working on the basis that companion screen means functions that enhance the main TV experience generally, whereas second screen means it is enhancing an actual programme you are watching, sometimes in complete synchronisation with the linear feed. So EPG or channel change on a tablet is ‘companion’ whereas looking at more information about an actor during the show, or Tweeting about it during the show is ‘second screen’ because you have entered the programme environment. If you take a  companion screen app and layer second screen functions on top you end up with an ‘umbrella app’. In our view ‘umbrella app’ implies you have multiple second screen experiences within it, covering different channels as well as shows.