Still the Second Screen?

A look at the ways mobile devices are used to enhance entertainment.

By Brian Malina on March 22, 2013

At last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, CNET declared 2012 to be the year of the second screen. They were referring to the launch of the Wii U, GamePad and other video game hardware, but the term “second screen” can mean any device used in front of a television, including laptops, smartphones or tablets.

For people in the U.S. and around the world, the TV-watching experience has changed with the growth of mobile devices. Along with laptops, these smartphones and tablets often play a complementary role, allowing TV-viewers to keep one eye on the TV while talking about the show in social media or engaging in another activity.

People use their second screen devices in a variety of ways. When they are not checking their email, viewers can look up information about their favorite shows as they watch. Others play games or browse the Internet looking for content unrelated to what’s on their TV screens. In fact, Google suggests that only 22 percent of second screen activity is actually related to the TV experience.

All of these habits suggest that the second screen may not be second for much longer. Based on research after Super Bowl XLVII, Jason Ankeny, executive editor of FierceMobileContent, suggested that time may already be here. Flurry, for example, notes that app activity during the game jumped by 19 percent this year, particularly during the unexpected electrical blackout. Twitter reported 24.1 million tweets during the event and CBSSports reported a 43 percent jump in its live stream from last year.

During last year’s College Basketball Tournament, more than 20 percent of tournament games were viewed on the second screen. With continued growth of 4G LTE providing a strong mobile video experience, those numbers can be expected to grow this year.

So, is there really a second screen anymore? Does one screen take precedence over another, and, if so, is it the mobile screen or the TV screen? Let us know your thoughts at @VZWNews.