Broadcast industry “not capitalising” on 2nd screen opps

Despite second-screen behaviour being well established among UK television viewers, broadcasters are failing to capitalise on the opportunities therein, according to new research by UK firm Red Bee Media, a provider of media management services.

And it’s not just broadcasters either: platform operators and content owners are also letting chances slip by to use personal devices such as smartphones and tablets as a way of increasing audience engagement, says Red Bee.

The study was conducted together with digital media consultancy Decipher and polled more than 2,000 smart device owners across the UK on their viewing habits and attitudes towards dual screen activities.

Over half of respondents were found to have used a second-screen device to find out more about a TV programme, and a whopping 78% think smart devices are a better way to engage with TV shows than red-button functionality or telephone call-ins – but only 19% of respondents positively rate their ability to engage with TV shows on personal devices.

The most appealing functionalities for second-screen apps and services include 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%).

There does remain some uncertainty over 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.

Dual screening is also believed to represent a potentially lucrative revenue stream for content owners and broadcasters: 44% of dual screeners already use their second screen to find out more about brands or advertising, more than half (56%) are open to receiving targeted ads through synchronous apps based on products featured on TV, and 40% would be willing to receive offers or promotions on their smart devices based on products featured on TV.

Red Bee Media found some disparity between the behaviour of Android and Apple users, suggesting that the broadcast industry should look to expand beyond iOS devices when implementing a dual screen strategy: Android users are thought more likely to use a second screen device while watching TV than iOS users (22% of all second screening is done on an Android device compared to just 3% for iPad and 11% for iPhone).

However, Android users are less likely to use these devices to engage with shows or use synchronous apps; 10% of synchronous app users use Android devices compared to 20% for iPhone and 12% for iPad.

Dual screening is not exclusively the preserve of younger audiences either: two-thirds of over 55s have engaged in dual screen behaviour using a smart device to stay online while watching TV, presenting a potentially lucrative opportunity for broadcasters, platforms and content owners to commercialise this affluent older demographic.

“There is no doubt that dual screening is here to stay,” said Stella Medlicott, Chief Marketing Officer at Red Bee Media. “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.”

Second-screen TV apps currently available in the UK include Zeebox, which recently passed 1mn downloads in its home market and has since launched in the US, and TVcheck from Orange, which launched last May.

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