Study: Second Screen TV Asynchronous Use Dominates Synchronous

written by: Richard Kastelein

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shutterstock 86448232The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE||Content First) yesterday released the findings of the first part of a joint research study analyzing how and why consumers use Second Screen devices to engage with video content. The findings, presented today during a panel session at the 2014 International CES®, running here through Friday, January 10th, revealed significant opportunities to improve synchronized program content offerings among the Second Screen viewing audience.

Of the Second Screen users surveyed, 79 percent access a second device while watching TV programming. Nearly all Second Screen viewers access asynchronous program content, either right before watching a show, right after watching, or between episodes/seasons, which offers a strong opportunity for program brands to increase loyalty and keep viewers engaged and watching even when shows are not on the air.

Only 42 percent of Second Screen users have tried synchronizing their content experience to live TV. According to the survey, synchronized content available for TV programs does not generate strong positive perceptions – only 13 percent of respondents said it makes their program viewing experience “much more enjoyable.” The majority of users said synchronized content makes their viewing experience “somewhat more enjoyable,” considering it less of a necessity than a “nice to have” for certain types of programs. More than half of those who access synchronous Second Screen content do so during commercials, so there is an opportunity to provide synchronized content that can be easily and quickly accessed during commercial air time.
“This important research study underscores the exciting opportunities for consumer technology device manufacturers to market connected devices and potentially collaborate with content producers to enhance and improve the Second Screen experience,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “Our joint study shows that consumers accessing synchronized content generally find it fun to use and more connected to the shows they are watching. At the same time, the study indicates there is an opportunity to expand consumer engagement with the Second Screen across a broader variety of programming.”
"Through NATPE's partnership with CEA, the findings in this study present new information, challenges and significant opportunities for content producers and advertisers,” said NATPE President and CEO Rod Perth. “We know TV viewers are beginning to use the Second Screen because it has the potential to extend enjoyment of the viewing experience. We believe this research study will illuminate new entertainment possibilities for consumers as well as content creators."

For those consuming synchronized content, the most commonly used device is the smartphone, driven primarily by Millennials (ages 13 to 34). The device of choice varies by age group, with older consumers (age 55+) being more likely to use a tablet or laptop while viewing. Very few find navigating synchronized Second Screen content difficult, but those who do cite a number of technical barriers which keep the synchronized experience from being ideal. The most cited issues are related to connectivity, content that is not optimized for the smartphone, screen size and difficulty in locating content online.

More than 6 in 10 of those who access synchronized content agree it is fun to use, that it makes them feel more connected to the shows they are watching and offers valuable information while viewing. However, the majority feel it is only appropriate for certain kinds of shows. Currently, synchronized content is most often used for voting during reality shows, and participating in contests to win prizes.

Second Screen users who don’t access synchronized program content equally say they don’t engage either because they are not interested or don’t know which programs offer synchronized content. This presents an opportunity to increase awareness and reinforce the positive aspects of a synchronized Second Screen experience.

The study also found the key targets for Second Screen content are Millennials (age 13 to 34), as they are among the heaviest consumers of both synchronous and asynchronous program content. Female Millennials are particularly avid Second Screeners. Parents of children under 18 are also key potential consumers given their level of enjoyment of Second Screen content, and heavy device ownership and usage.

A few examples of ways to enhance synchronous content to boost viewer interaction with programs:

  • Optimize social networking opportunities for Millennial viewers via contests and activities, and target older viewers by developing voting and contest-related activities for reality shows.
  • Target parents with family content that allows simultaneous viewing interaction to help maintain and drive live viewing, and raise program ad revenue.
  • Optimize content for the smartphone, making it easier to find/access synchronous content either through apps or on a program website. Content should be device-agnostic, given the proportion of Second Screen consumers viewing on a smartphone.


The Executive Summary of the survey results is available for media upon request and the complete report will be available for free to CEA member companies at members.CE.org, and to NATPE members who email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with subject line “2nd Screen TV Viewing Research Request” (make sure to include your full name and company). Non-members can purchase the study for $1,000 at the CEA Store.


The quantitative portion of the study was administered by E-Poll Market Research via an Internet survey to an online national sample of 2,531 U.S. adults, age 13 and older, between Oct. 18 and Oct. 28, 2013. All respondents reported accessing Second Screen content related to televised programming, including TV shows/series, sports, music programming, televised movies and news at any frequency.

Part Two of the study is based on qualitative research collected through interviews with leading television showrunners, exploring the ways in which Second Screen affects the way they develop content, how it can be incorporated into their programs and the advertising opportunities that exist as a result of this evolution. The findings of Part Two will be distributed and presented at a joint session during NATPE||Miami, Jan. 27-29, 2014.

About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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