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Watching with a second screen: the rise of social TV [Infographic]

When was the last time you curled up on the couch in front of your TV and just… watched the TV? If you’re anything like the multi-tasking always-connected masses which start mildly hyperventilating whenever their smartphones are out of reach, then you’re probably settling down on the couch with a phone (or maybe a tablet) to keep you company.

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping... More

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As a recent Nielsen study points out, citizens in countries like the UK, the US, Germany and Italy are more likely than not to watch TV and use a tablet or smartphone at the same time. What are they doing? Well, according to this infographic, people use this second screen to browse the web, access social media, search for information or shop online… all while watching TV.

Even during the most watched sporting event on the US calendar, the Super Bowl, people were using their mobile devices while watching the game: a sizeable chunk of event-related Google searches were conducted using tablets and smartphones. According to Google, during the game, 41% of commercial-related search terms were entered via smartphone. Twitter noticed a spike too: although it’s unclear how many tweets were sent via mobile, it clocked 12 233 tweets per second in the last three minutes of the game. Chevrolet capitalised on the second screen, running an award-winning campaign that required fans to download a mobile app and answer trivia questions on their Super Bowl commercials in real-time, to stand a chance of winning their own Chevy. At its peak, it had over 130 000 simultaneous players. More than 21-million questions were answered and the apps were downloaded over 700 000 times.

The growing trend towards what is being called ‘social TV’ is already having an effect in Hollywood. Shows like The Vampire Diaries, which averages 57 000 social comments per episode, have even had to alter the script to answer viewers’ questions, as their audience takes to Twitter during and after the broadcasts to voice their opinions. The fact that viewers are now increasingly watching TV while simultaneously using a mobile device has even left Glee’s executive producer Brad Falchuk craving his audience’s full attention, saying he “would love to do an episode that was so amazing you got fewer tweets.”

Infographic on the rise of the second screen