Distraction or Entertainment? Either Way, Second Screens are Changing the Way We Watch TV

Whether it is because of our shortened attention span or our heightened interest, second screens are becoming a common television viewing habit. Mobile devices are changing the way people watch and interact with TV.

Engaging with a show and other viewers can now be as simple as using a smartphone or a tablet. The latest Nielsen survey shows that 46% of smartphone owners and 43% of tablet owners are choosing to be connected with their devices while watching TV. During the first quarter of 2013 two-thirds of tablet and smartphone owners said they were using the second screens multiple times a week.

But what are viewers really doing on their devices while watching television? Well, everything really. Majority of tablet owners are simply making general web searches and browsing.

But the survey shows that people are also using the second screens for contents that are related to what they are viewing, 13% of tablet and smartphone owners use the device to interact with the show or post about it on social networking sites. About 15% of users admit to watching a show because of something they have read on social media. And 20% of viewers with tablets are shopping on their devices during advertisement on television.

According to the Q1 2013 Cross-Platform Report, smartphone users can spend up to nine hours each month using social media on their phone. Tablet users average around four hours each month.

Multi-screen entertainment is a product that both television producers and digital device marketers are expecting to grow. Whether we are using it out of boredom or curiosity, the fact is that more often than not we are engaging in the second screen experience. And as social networks sites such as Twitter and broadcast companies such as Bell and Shaw develop more avenues for second screen, viewers and device users alike will continue adapting to the changing world of entertainment.

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Elliot Chan

Elliot Chan

Elliot worked in the entertainment industry for four years before transitioning into professional writing and communications in 2012. He is the head of community content and strategy at Control, the digital manager for Asian Canadian literary publication Ricepaper Magazine, a content creator for Unhaggle, and the opinions editor at The Other Press. Elliot is a graduate of The Art Institute of... more




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