A second screen refers to the use of a computing device (commonly a mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone) to provide an enhanced viewing experience for content on another device, such as a television. In particular, the term commonly refers to the use of such devices to provide interactive features during "linear" content, such as a television program, served within a special app or real-time video highlights on social networking apps such as Facebook and Twitter. The use of a second screen supports social television.
Several studies show a clear tendency of the user to use a device while watching television. They also show a greater frequency of use of tablet or smartphone when watching television, and other studies distinguish a higher percentage of comments or posts on social networks, about the content that's being watched (Nielsen ratings) As well, Google has published a study where they define some apparent new behaviors on the part of users when consuming content via multiple devices.
Conference and business meetings organizers are now incorporating second screen as well to deepen audience engagement. According to "2014 Trend Tracker", the third annual list of the top 50 trends effecting events, produced by Global Experience Specialists (GES), the global event marketing company, "second screen" phenomenon is exploding onto the scene in 2014. "Attendees are so glued to their devices, even while watching a live presentation (or at home, on television) that marketers are supplying them with a simultaneous engagement tool they can access on that device," says Robin Stapley, VP-design and creative at GES. Software tools allow conference session presenters to share slides and presentations in real-time, so attendees can follow-on with their device in-hand."
Julius Solaris from Event Manager Blog also predicts 2014 as the year of mobile as a second screen for slides. In his annual presentation  Julius mentions "live slide sharing" among the top 10 most significant trends affecting events in 2014 and states that "pushing slides to audience devices helps to keep the focus on content and enhance the education experience".
Second screen technology at conferences transforms the attendees' personal devices into an integral part of the event experience, and turns conference attendees from passive listeners into active followers who engage with the speaker and other participants.
Many applications in the "second screen" are designed to give another form of interactivity to the user and another way to sell advertising content. Some examples include:
- Transmission of the Master's Golf Tournament, application for the iPhone (rating information and publicity)
- TV programs broadcast live tweets and comment
- Synchronization of audiovisual content via web advertising
- Applications that extend the content information
- Shows that add on their websites, content devoted exclusively to the second screen
- Applications that synchronize the content being viewed to the portable device
- Video game console playing with extra data, such as a map or strategy data, that synchronize with the content being viewed to the portable device
- TV discovery application with recommendation, EPG (live content), personalization.
Sports broadcasters, to stem the flight of the TV audience away from watching the main screen (new name for the television) to the second screen, are offering alternative content to the main program. The idea is to present content related to the main program, such as unseen moments, alternative information, soundtrack, and characters. Proposed new technologies allow the viewer to see different camera angles while watching the game.
TV2 (Denmark), Denmark's largest commercial TV channel, synchronized its Second Screen service to live events of the Giro d'Italia 2012 bicycling from May 5 to May 27, 2012, whereby viewers on all internet devices could get rider stats, biographies, news, stage reviews, city info, weather info and the like. Viewers scanned a QR code on the TV broadcast to get connected, or typed in a short URL.
In the US, HDNet Fights utilizes a second screen service to synchronize to live MMA broadcasts, where viewers on smartphones and tablets could get stats, vote on fights and rounds, chat, win prizes, and see how fellow second screen users voted to win fights.
Real world examples
|Primary Screen||Second Screen|
|Select Dish Network Receivers||iOS and Android devices using Dish Anywhere Mobile App|
|Select Disney Blu-Ray discs and DVDs||iPad and devices running Adobe Flash using Disney Second Screen|
|GameCube||Game Boy Advance using Nintendo GameCube–Game Boy Advance link cable|
|PlayStation 3||PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita using Remote Play|
|PlayStation 4||PlayStation Vita using Remote Play; iOS and Android devices using the PlayStation App|
|Wii U||Wii U GamePad and Nintendo 3DS|
|Xbox 360||Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices using Xbox SmartGlass|
|Xbox One||Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices using Xbox SmartGlass Windows 10 PCs using a planned Xbox App|
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