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.

David Moth

Published 21 August, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

1719 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (4)

Dean Marsden

Dean Marsden, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai Ltd

Despite most of the respondents stating they would not prefer to see web content related to the program or adverts on at the time, I think there is massive potential for this type of interaction.

I can't believe how fast Zeebox has grown and from my own experiences of viewing Facebook during big events such as the Olympics, 'second screening' is big!

It might not be long before we see some related adverts to comments on Facebook, etc. Facebook already knows what people are talking about and groups discussions on these things, surely it can expand to include offers related to the programming?

Aside from the monetisation of second screening, social networking is benefiting as whole.

General websites could benefit from visitors during certain hours by creating special messaging that only displays during the times the program is scheduled on TV. Just my thoughts, but I believe there is much more potential for this user behaviour as smartphone/tablet usage continues to grow.

almost 6 years ago


Terry Smith

Second screening is something that most people do because if they don't have their laptops on them while watching TV, almost all people have their mobile phones. IF your watching a football match or a film, people enjoy having the ability to tweet or talk to their friends about it while watching it.

almost 6 years ago


Terry Bahlmann

Watch live TV is the best way for connect to the Live Online TV and getting all thing which necessary for entertainment.

almost 6 years ago

Rob Robinson

Rob Robinson, CEO / Creative Director at Clicked Creative

These numbers certainly make for interesting reading but It's important for marketers to remember how young the second screen market is and how many ways it could develop in the future.

Though social interaction is at the heart of current usage trends, there are clear commercial opportunities to be had by offering relevant and useful commercial opportunities in a 'light touch' way, as well as time-sensitive promotions and cross-selling new shows and additional exclusive content to a highly engaged audience.       

Show-specific second screen products can work for shows with strong, switched-on, engaged audiences but this requires a high level of engagement and interactivity. A more general offering like Zeebox can help consolidate viewers into one space to get involved in conversations they might otherwise miss, but where is the value to the smaller TV channels lower down in Zeebox's listings as the lower down they are the less value and exposure they get? 

These current iterations are only the tip of the second screen iceberg. We have yet to see channel-level offerings that work across an area of specialism (nature, history, beauty etc) or representing a number of flagship shows under the channel umbrella. There's also integration of second screen activity into the next generation of On-Demand TV and EPG apps, as well as a second screen thinking becoming part of the initial development cycle when a show is commissioned. 

TV channels work hard to attract advertisers and those advertisers demand ratings and exposure for their ad spend. By failing to engage viewers in the second screen space, both advertisers and broadcasters are missing out on new commercial opportunities as well as exposure to a potential new market via sharing, brand association and peer to peer recommendation.  

Plus there is the biggest second screen challenge to overcome - creating an app that rewards viewers who are watching in a time-shifted (pre-recorded) state. If these challenges can be met, this is where the real value may lie for consumers, TV production companies and networks.    

almost 6 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.