Second screen refers to the use of an additional electronic device (e.g. tablet, smartphone or the computer) by individuals who are already watching the television.

Second Screen App is an software application primarily created to enrich the viewing experience on the First Screen, the screen where the live event and/or linear content is rendered, to which the Second Screen App relates.

Second Screen Device, sometimes also referred to as “companion device” or “digital media controller”, is a term that refers to an additional electronic device that allows a content consumer to interact with the content they are consuming, such as TV shows, movies, music, or video games. Extra data is displayed on a portable device with the content being viewed on television.


Social television creates a need and opportunity for interaction between the sender and content consumers. This involves new services, applications and changes in content production. The use of second screen provides a parallel path, whereby the user can become an active agent in the broadcast content or in just some other activity, rather than interrupt playback.

The concept is being expanded to include live events like keynote speeches, meetings and seminars where the “first screen” is the main presentation screen, and participants use smartphones and tablets to mirror the main screen and/or view ancillary information.


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) [9][10][11] 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.

On these studies, many companies both in content production and advertising have adapted their formats to the user, trying to get maximum attention and thus profits. Applications are becoming a natural extension of television programming, both live and on demand.


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:

Transmission of the Master’s Golf Tournament, application for the iPhone (rating information and publicity)

TV programs broadcast live tweets and comment.

Synchronization of audio visual 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.


Projects and Research activity which is addressing 2nd screen includes:

SAM: Socialising Around Media: Leading European Research Project on Second Screen, Content Syndication and Social Media.

Sports Broadcasting

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.



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