Nearly a quarter of people (24%) use second screens while watching TV and almost half of all 16-24 year olds use communication tools such as messaging, email, Facebook, or Twitter to discuss what they are watching on TV.
The findings come from a survey by Deloitte, which interviewed 2,000 UK respondents aged 16+ about their viewing habits and use of second screens.
It found that despite the rise in second screening people only one in ten people browse the internet for information about the programme they are watching.
Furthermore, 68% of respondents that do use the internet to connect with a programme would not want the websites for products, personalities or adverts that have just been shown on television, to automatically appear on their second screen.
So instead of interacting with the programmes they are watching, people are talking about them with friends. This behaviour is more prominent among younger age groups and gradually declines with age.
The report points out that second screening isn’t really a new behaviour as people have always looked for other distractions while watching TV.
80% of respondents said they talk to other people in the room while watching TV, while browsing the internet is undertaken ‘frequently’ by a third of the sample.
Therefore it could be that second screening is just a new digitally-enabled distraction.
Data included in our recent report, The Multi-Screen Marketer, shows that different types of programmes drive different online behaviours.
Reality shows and sporting events create the most non-commerce related online activities, probably due to the fact that viewers go online to discuss what they are watching on social media.
In contrast, independent dramas apparently drive the most commerce related activities.
So there is a huge opportunity for broadcasters and advertisers to become part of the discussion on second screens.
There is already a range of companion apps available for shows such as Top Gear, Antiques Roadshow and Million Pound Drop Live, while Zeebox offers a catchall solution where viewers can discuss and interact with almost any show on TV.
While these apps are still somewhat experimental at this stage, the report points out that “all official second screen usage, in the form of apps and websites, is likely to bolster TV viewing to an extent”.
So the real challenge for broadcasters is to work out whether to invest all their funds and creative energy in making the main screen content as good as possible, or creating a blended first and second screen experience that could potentially have more impact than a single screen experience.