Why Media Companies Can’t Afford to Ignore the Second Screen

By on June 25, 2013. Posted in . Tagged as , .

second screen

Image courtesy 2nd Screen Society

We often refer to tablets and smartphones as “second screens.”  But what if that classification is off-target?  What if, in fact, these devices are now the primary screens, and traditional TVs have now become secondary?

Content providers can no longer simply treat mobile devices as peripherals that people only use for watching content in short bursts, or when they’re traveling.  These devices are in use everywhere, and increasingly being used for long-form video consumption.  In fact, Juniper Research recently issued a report estimating that mobile TV viewers will exceed 2 billion by 2017.

Ignoring this phenomenon could lead to dire repercussions.  By not making their content available on mobile devices, content providers are sacrificing potential viewer growth.  Likewise, cable operators run the risk of losing customers to an increased wave of cable cutting.  Conversely, a focus on mobile can open up many doors.  New viewers, numbering in the millions, could potentially be gained.  Advertisers can enjoy better opportunities to target specific viewers based on proven usage patterns.  And everyone can enhance their relationships with mobile viewers by providing them with content in a form that is quickly becoming the rule, rather than the exception.

I think you get the picture (or, rather, your devices are getting the picture and you’re consuming it through them!).  That second screen has now become your primary screen.  So, why aren’t more content providers treating it as such?  There might be several reasons:

  • Distribution rights issues continue to be a tangled web that poses issues even to the most influential organizations.
  • There are still territorial battles being fought between traditional cable operators and service providers (one of the reasons why we’ve yet to see an actual Apple television, no doubt).
  • There are also financial issues, of course; some organizations still, to do this day, find reasons to not expand their mobile portfolio, citing budgetary constraints.
  • But one of the main issues is, quite simply, confusion.  Mobile grew so fast, so quickly, many of these traditional content providers were left standing still, not quite knowing how their business model changed overnight.  Like Dorothy being lifted by the tornado and transported to Oz, these organizations found themselves swept up in a storm and transplanted, almost immediately, into a new world that they did not understand.

Some get it, but some continue to be flummoxed by the meaning of today’s mobile revolution and, specifically, the dawn of the age of the second – or, if you will, primary — screen.  Is it a threat?  Is it an opportunity?  Or is it a combination of both?

These are some of the questions I’m exploring this week at the 2nd Screen Summit.  For a few days in New York City, myself and other industry experts are gathering to discuss how mobile technologies are impacting the way people consume and interact with media, particularly what was once considered traditional broadcast content.

It’s obviously a subject that we’re highly familiar with.  From being a proud member of the 2nd Screen Society to releasing our own ScreenBee app and sponsoring a recent white paper on enabling connected media experiences, this is a topic that has been driving our business for the better part of the last year.  I do not see that abating; rather, I see it increasing.

I also see clarity of vision beginning to form among companies that are producing media for an age that is at the crossroads of the traditional and the new.  I hope that this week, when I speak on a panel called Creating Converged Experiences, I’ll be able to help move that vision along.  Of course, if you’re in attendance I would love to catch up with you; simply drop me a line or send me a tweet @dpv007 and let me know.  And please be sure to check out our white paper that I mentioned; I think you will find it very enlightening.

In any case, it would be great to get together at the Summit and discuss some of issues that continue to appear within our industry – and do our best to get them off our screens.

– D.P.

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