Broadcast industry not capitalising on rise of the second screen

09 Oct 2012  |  Anne Tucker 

The majority of British viewers have tried 'dual screening', with 86% of smart device owners having used their phone, tablet or computer while watching TV, according to new research unveiled today by Red Bee Media.

However, broadcasters, platforms and content owners have not yet succeeded in maximising their relationships with viewers through these second screen devices; just one in five respondents have used a synchronous companion app although 78% of this group believe that smart devices are a better way to engage with their favourite TV shows as opposed to traditional methods such as red button or telephone call-ins.

Red Bee Media, worked with digital media consultancy, Decipher, to poll more than 2,000 smart device owners across the UK on their viewing habits and attitudes towards dual screen activities.

Dual screening and TV

The rise of the second screen represents a significant opportunity for the broadcast industry to own viewers' interactions with their content through synchronous companion apps that operate in conjunction with TV programmes. Research showed the following:

  • More than half of respondents (52%) have used a second screen to find out more about a TV programme.
  • Social media plays a role in helping viewers to decide when to watch a programme; one in three smart device owners admitted that they are more likely to watch a show live rather than on-demand if there is significant social buzz around that programme.

Untapped potential

Broadcasters and platforms have not yet found a way to consistently own viewers' second screen activity and build engagement:

  • Only 19% of respondents positively rate their ability to engage with TV shows.
  • One in two respondents said they would be more inclined to engage with a TV show if they could access it from their smart device.
  • That said, respondents who have used or currently use synchronous companion apps rate them very positively; 78% think that 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%).
  • However, there remains uncertainty among viewers about where to find TV related synchronous apps; 29% of respondents would look to a TV channel or platform as the app aggregator, while 21% would search for apps individually.

The second screen as a revenue generator

Dual screening also represents a potentially lucrative revenue stream for content owners and broadcasters:

  • 44% of dual screeners already use their second screen to find out more about brands or advertising.
  • More than half (56%) are open to receiving targeted ads through synchronous apps based on products featured on TV.
  • Nearly a third (30%) would be more inclined to engage with ads if offered via a smart device while they're watching TV.
  • Additionally 40% would be willing to receive offers or promotions on their smart devices based on products featured on TV.
  • One in four would pay for a synchronous companion app, at an average cost of £1.27 per app.

Apple vs Android?

The research also found a disparity between the behaviour of Android and Apple users, suggesting that the broadcast industry should look to expand beyond iOS devices when implementing a dual screen strategy:

  • Android users are more likely to use a second screen device while watching TV than iOS users (22% of all second screening is done on an Android device compared to just 3% for iPad and 11% for iPhone).
  • However, Android users are less likely to use these devices to engage with shows or use synchronous apps; 10% of synchronous app users use Android devices compared to 20% for iPhone and 12% for iPad.

The 'senior' dual screener

Dual screening is not exclusively the domain of younger audiences; two thirds of over 55s have engaged in dual screen behaviour using a smart device to stay online while watching TV. This affords a potentially lucrative opportunity for broadcasters, platforms and content owners to commercialise this affluent older demographic:

  • One in two over 55s 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 the 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.
  • Older men are more likely to use a second screen device than women with 63% of over 55s being male and engaging in this behaviour.

Stella Medlicott, chief marketing officer, Red Bee Media, commented: "There is no doubt that dual screening is here to stay. The findings from our research indicate that consumers are already using their smart devices to engage with TV content and 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."

Nigel Walley, MD of Decipher said: "The exciting thing is that the numbers are all going upwards. The number of people who own a smart device is increasing; the number apps available which relate to TV is increasing; the number of TV programmes that explicitly promote some form of second screen is increasing. 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.".

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