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From The Pages Of Createasphere: You And Second Screen

With all the conversation about “second screen,” why is it important to you? For a few reasons:

·         There is a big VC push for companies engaged in the space (Miso, Umami, Zeebox, Shazam, GetGlue, etc.), which often indicates a trend to monitor.

·         There is high engagement from the creative community, social media portals and Hollywood studios (Disney Second Screen, for example).  Again, that makes it worth understanding.

·         It is a groundbreaking tool for brands.

·         It speaks to a highly connected audience. The expansive use of connected devices, which research by Forbes and eMarketer indicate that in 2012 about half of all U.S. mobile phone users will own Smartphone’s, and about 25% of all internet users will own a tablet (mostly iPads).  Additionally, over 70% of those tablet owners are already using their device simultaneously while watching TV almost daily.

·         Most importantly – It is an undeniable trend.


And, according to Forbes, some forward-thinking content creators are even starting to discuss designing third and fourth screen experiences for their audiences in order to super serve their most influential fans.

Referenced here are a number of engaging blogs and websites. For staying on top of the emerging trends, following them is a no-brainer. Trends are moving fast and it’s important to stay on the edge of the best knowledge. As content creators, the manner in which content is consumed is of crucial importance to both the technically oriented and creatively focused, forcing questions about how content is envisioned, executed, distributed, and engaged with.

Let’s start with a simple definition/explanation of “second screen.” Second Screens are internet connected devices – mobile phones, laptops, tablets – most often used by individuals. The value of second screen is that it doesn’t interfere or muddle the content on the first screen, but allows viewers to interact with whatever is displayed on the first screen, such as a Blu-ray or television show.  Using a second device enables individual experience, without interference to the other viewers of the first screen. Second screen interactivity with a television show is accomplished by a simulcast of web content during a broadcast. Manufacturers are building second screen applications into products, and content holders are designing apps and portals to facilitate the second screen experience.

Anne Roussel explains second screen in this way in her informative Edge of Digital Culture Blog: Viewers are watching a show on the television screen. While watching, they are tweeting or updating their status on Facebook (or both) using a laptop, smartphone, or tablet.”  While that may not sound all that unusual, it’s the use of social media platforms and integrated websites like GetGlue, etc., that is remarkable. Social media sites put viewers in communication with their friends about specific shows. Rousell continues, “A viewer wants to watch The Office. She tunes into the show on her TV, and then checks in to GetGlue on her iPhone…she tells her friends what she is watching.” Oftentimes, they join, watch, and communicate. It’s that two-way communication that makes this a more engaged and important experience than simply looking up credits while you’re watching a movie. And, of course, there is an entire world of data being shared that leads to advertising and monetization opportunities. The two-way communication between clients and servers are most of the times delivered via either Websocket Api or Node.js.

Second screen is an unprecedented information feed for advertisers and brands.  “For the first time, television has an instant feedback loop the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” says Mike Proulx, Hill Holliday’s Director of Digital Strategy and coauthor (with Shepatin) of Social TV, a book tackling the topic. “It’s almost, in effect, helping brands close the loop from interest to actual action in a more direct response model.” (

What the second screen experience is, and is becoming, is where the action is the hottest and studios are putting thought and effort into making sure they are part of the second screen ecosystem in a successful way.Disney Second Screen, according to their site, “…extends the film experience with interactive content that you control.”  With the download of an app, viewers get access to inside info, galleries, interactive features, interviews, and extensive information. It clearly does engage the audience in a more profound way than simply watching a movie ( Whether double or triple tasking actually does lead to greater experience and movie watching enjoyment is an entirely different and artistic discussion, but it is clear that the viewers of certain movies want to be “in” the movie experience to a greater degree than simply viewing.

But really, how many people are doing this?

Super Bowl 2012 brought us an awe-inducing social media TV event, (i.e., an inherently second screen event). According to Lost Remote, this year’s Super Bowl was the biggest social TV event in history. During the broadcast of the game, viewers posted 12.2 million tweets, 5x the number from Super Bowl 2011, and 4x as many as any other record setting broadcast including the MTV Video Music Awards. During the final seconds of the 2012 game, tweets were rolling in at 10,000 per second. Madonna’s performance incited a flurry activity, and while none of this impacted the outcome of the game or the entertainment, it showed clearly that the audience is engaged in sharing.  And they are commenting from their perch on the internet. And, people are listening.

Second screen use calls the very foundation of traditional television viewing into the spotlight. “The Second screen experience ushers in a whole new way of watching TV. It signals the end of the old, passive, lean-back, couch-potato viewing experience. Viewers can now actively engage and take control of their TV viewing experience by sharing it with their friends, commenting about it, and rating TV content at the same time.” ( This brings huge implications to the television and broadcast industries. There is no delay on ratings or feedback. With real-time rating and trackable reaction, there is now reliable data for producers to keep, use to cancel or promote, or create.  The engaged audience, i.e. the trackable audience, offers an audience that can be monetized.

Chuck Parker, expert and blogger, has developed an infographic of the second screen eco system.
It clearly shows the complex network of content, technology, branding interplay.

What does all of this mean to content creators?

A former boss used to ask, “Will there be more of this [name of technology], or less?”  If there is more, his mantra was, “figure out what it means to you, now not later.” There is clear indication that there will be a lot more second screen content and technology. There is significant evidence that networks, studios, content holders, start-ups and major technology companies are engaged in this trend with full force. Following the key blogs, news sites, and stories is one place to start, but committing to staying on top of the news is important. That’s what will give you various points of view, varying technologies, and breaking news. Next, understand how and if the content that you are working fits into second screen usage. If you are the creator of a major television show, a la The Office, Big Bang Theory, or Dancing with the Stars, you are probably already knee deep in the entire discussion and deployment of second screen.  But, if you are just starting to develop a movie, television show, or game, think ahead of how and if there are potential opportunities. Talk to experts, research what’s being done, and what’s on all of those screens, relatively and technically. Getting a good grasp on the apps that feed second screen, and how they might impact your products and projects is also helpful. Watch as that space expands.

For a long time, getting ahead in Hollywood meant keeping your eye on the ball, with sharp focus on the big picture. That is still true, but now you also have to keep your eye on the second screen and all that it entails.