Living in a post first screen/second screen world

12 Oct 2012  |  Steve Smith 

Starcom MediaVest's head of thought leadership, Steve Smith, argues we are now living in a 'post first screen/second screen' world.

YouTube's announcement that it will be launching sixty channels of full programmes from across Europe was followed by a presentation on Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, by Robert Kyncl, YouTube head of content.

In it, Kyncl dismissed the notion that smartphones and tablet devices are mere 'second screens' to the 'first screen' of the TV.

Instead, Kyncl argued that people would discover content on their mobiles and then swipe that content to the television, making the television the 'second screen'.

This is semantics. Instead, how will people actually perceive their television screens? In actual fact, people 'swiping' content to 'dumb' televisions isn't anything new. People do very similar things when they watch DVDs, stream video from their games devices or use boxes such as YouView or Apple TV.

For most people doing this, the TV is the device on which they continue to have deep and meaningful experiences and so continue to build deep and emotional attachments to it.

Nevertheless, Kyncl has a point. The frequency of people discovering content on their mobiles will increase and with YouTube providing more long form content, people will want to view that content on their televisions and then use their mobiles for a variety of activities, from accessing complementary content and communicating about it, through to enquiry, exploration, online shopping and communicating about unrelated things.

This suggests that using the terms 'first screen' and 'second screen' are no longer sufficiently accurate to describe people's behaviour. This is because these terms prioritise the television over the mobile, tablet and other devices, or vice versa.

Rather, my view is that the relationship people will continue to create between TV and mobile will be characterised much more by mutual symbiosis, in which both devices are given equal importance and priority.

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