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Deloitte: second-screen interactions are like eating in front of the TV

A major new report from professional services firm Deloitte has found that the rise of second-screen interactions (using other screens such as tablets whilst watching TV) is a source of both excitement and concern for many in the TV and technology industry, and observes that some viewers (usually younger ones) take to it very quickly, whilst others would not even consider doing so.

Likening this polarising nature to that of eating in front of the TV (i.e. some viewers do it every day while others never would), Deloitte found that while nearly half of 16-24 year olds respondents in its UK-specific study use communication tools such as messaging, email, Facebook, or Twitter to discuss what they are watching on TV, the vast majority of over 55s (79%) never do so.

There is believed to be muted appetite for interaction with TV programmes: only one in ten people were found to browse the internet for information about the programme they are watching.

Some viewers (40%) like being able to send their comments in to a live programme. However, 68% would not want the websites for products, personalities or adverts that have just been shown on television, to automatically appear on their computer, tablet or smartphone.

Paul Lee, director of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte, comments: “Second-screening’s impact is far greater in driving conversations about a programme, as opposed to interaction with it. Second-screening may well end up with a similar status as eating in front of the TV: an everyday experience for some; absolutely unthinkable for others. One thing is certain: it is here for good.

“Browsing the web whilst watching television is undertaken “frequently” by a third of the sample.  This might be a brand new technology-enabled distraction or it might simply represent the swapping of an analogue distraction for a digital one. Browsing while watching television typically means flitting between a preferred set of websites, often comprising news, sports, e-commerce. Time spent on these may be a substitute for reading newspapers and magazines, or looking through catalogues.”

Deloitte adds that any investment in second-screen content is likely to reduce resources for the first-screen content, posing a predicament for programme makers: how should they balance their funds and creative energies between the main screen and auxiliary screens?

“The challenge for second-screen content today is that it is likely to be relatively expensive as we are still in an experimental, bespoke phase,” concludes Mr. Lee. “Every pound spent on second-screen content may be a pound diverted from the first screen; in order to justify the investment content creators need to get the balance right between all screens.

“In time, creating official second-screen experiences should become more formulaic and more easily reduced to a template. The more standardised second-screen content creation becomes, the easier it should be to attain a positive return on investment.”

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