The two-screen dance5/29/2013
Over the last few years, television ratings have seen an incredible drop industry-wide. Fifteen years ago, 76 million Americans tuned in for the “Seinfeld” series finale, whereas two weeks ago not even six million watched “The Office” series ender. While viewer numbers rise when online views are considered, online advertising revenue is nothing compared to broadcast, making TV producers desperate to push viewers back to their TVs. So what is the plan to entice you back to live TV? Exclusive “second screen” content.
The term “second screen” can be defined as any screen other than a television where viewers enjoy content. It was coined around the dawn of the iPhone when online streaming video services started to proliferate. No longer inconvenienced by air times, second-screen viewers could watch at their leisure with fewer ads.
So if the second screen is the disease, how is it also the cure? Say you’re a huge fan of “Fox’s New Girl” and watch it every week online. Hoping to draw you back to the live broadcast, Fox’s new smartphone app, FoxNow, provides exclusive sync-to-broadcast content that is only viewable during an extended period while the show is on the air. With content such as expanded story lines, cast interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage, producers are hoping TV broadcasts will start to look more favorable.
Fox may be the first major network to build its own second screen application, but cable networks including USA, Bravo, ESPN and MTV have been in the game for quite a while. While second screen applications have yet to truly breakthrough, quite a few already offer complementary material to popular content including Viggle, IntoNow, ConnectTV, GetGlue and others.
While currently only 39 percent of Americans are doing the two-screen dance (watching TV while using a smartphone or tablet), it seems like only a matter of time before TV viewing becomes subsumed by second-screen addiction. Need proof? Look no further than the dinner table, the car, the bedroom, bathroom stall — even church. When it comes to our screen addiction, truly nothing is sacred. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.