Broadcast industry failing to cash in on second screen

Joseph O'Halloran | 09-10-2012

Even though a very significant majority of UK TV viewers have tried dual screen technologies, broadcasters are failing to cash in on this new channel according to new research from Red Bee Media.

The survey by the multi-platform technology and creative solutions provider, and digital media consultancy, Decipher, found that as many as 86% of smart device owners had used their smartphone, tablet or computer while watching TV.

In terms of what those who did engage with second screen technology were actually doing, more than half of respondents (52%) used a second screen to find out more about a TV programme and, showing the growing role that social media plays a role in helping viewers to decide when to watch a programme, a third of 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. Synchronous companion apps were rated 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%).

The other great new revealed by the survey was the fact that dual screening offered a potentially lucrative revenue stream for content owners and broadcasters with more than two-fifths (44%) of dual screeners already using their second screen to find out more about brands or advertising and more than half (56%) being open to receiving targeted ads through synchronous apps based on products featured on TV. Moreover nearly a third (30%) would be more inclined to engage with ads if offered via a smart device while they’re watching TV.

Yet despite this clear mainstream acceptance of second screen technology, the survey also revealed that broadcasters, platforms and content owners have not yet succeeded in maximising their relationships with viewers through these second screen devices. Even given the general positivity towards synchronous companion apps, only a fifth of all respondents used such services.There was also 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.

Furthermore, showing just how broadcasters and platforms have not yet found a way to consistently own viewers’ second screen activity and build engagement, merely 19% of respondents positively rate their ability to engage with TV shows. Even though half said they would be more inclined to engage with a TV show if they could access it from their smart device.

Commenting on the research, Stella Medlicott, Chief Marketing Officer, Red Bee Media, said: “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.”