Why We Never Stop Talking About Second Screens

Why We Never Stop Talking About Second Screens

What content matches perfectly for second-screen, and why is this solution so important for television today?

It's interesting that the Super Bowl's experience with the second screen began over 10 years ago. Since 2010, marketers have realised that using short commercials for millions of dollars isn't as effective as interacting with them throughout the entire game. This realisation has led marketers and broadcasters to develop second-screen experiences for viewers and sports fans.

Some early second-screen examples for the Super Bowl included Coca-Cola's Facebook fan page, Chevy's first Super Bowl-specific app with trivia and quizzes, and Arena's community live chat. These are just a few examples, and there were many more, with goals that were both similar and different depending on the platform and the type of video content the second screen complemented.

James Blake, a researcher specialising in video consumption and social experiences, published a book highlighting that second screens are no longer an additional benefit but rather a natural part of the television flow and a necessary stream for TV viewers and their experience. If a TV channel, specific program, or commercial brand doesn't use the opportunity to engage viewers with a second screen, they risk losing them to social media or online stores that are not connected to the programs directly. After all, viewers are no longer glued to the TV screen.

There is a significant amount of data based on surveys that show that 83% of TV viewers use their smartphones at least once while watching, and 43% of them tweet or post about the shows they watch on other social media. This is significant data for broadcasters. Imagine a viewer who is a fan of a show like "Big Brother" or curling. This viewer watches episodes of Big Brother daily and every curling game they can find. They also post about their favourite shows and games on social media. However, their friends on social media, who are colleagues and gym buddies, may not be interested in these topics. As a result, the viewer's excitement goes unnoticed because they don't receive a reaction.

Broadcasters can achieve a win-win situation by providing a second-screen solution for such a viewer. The broadcaster gains an even more loyal viewer who interacts while watching, not on Twitter, but on a pre-prepared platform that is part of the broadcasted show. The viewer gains a dedicated audience for their emotions—a live chat room or social media page that gathers other fans of the show or curling enthusiasts. The high level of engagement here is important and beneficial for both viewers and the channel. One of the best parts here is how easily such a solution can be implemented and how chilly and seamless the viewer can dive into this experience.

Perfect content for second-screen usage

Live Sports Events

Implementing a second screen for significant sporting events is the most obvious solution. The more popular the game, the better, but it's actually not that important whether one million or one thousand viewers watch the game simultaneously. Even a thousand fans can build and drive a community full of energy and emotions. There are different ways to provide them with this opportunity. For example, the Israeli broadcaster used WhatsApp to gather all smartphone and football lovers in one place for the 2018 World Cup games. This case became a perfect example of using second-screen features to create a meaningful and collaborative viewing experience with significant engagement.

However, there's one point to consider: users will use messaging apps regardless. Why not attract them to a second screen that is strongly linked to the broadcaster rather than something external like WhatsApp?

In 2022, Watchers gathered viewers of The Olympics broadcaster in a chat created specifically for them. It wasn't a chat within the existing messenger app but a separate chat that opened in a browser, becoming something like a specific messenger just for this occasion. Users scanned a QR code on the screen while watching the game or during a commercial break to enter the chat. It was only open during the sports days (closing when the last game finished and reopening with the start of the first game the next day). This prevented the chat from becoming inactive, and viewers began to look forward not only to the games but also to the chat opening, starting from the second day of the project.

Finally, the third opportunity is to gather TV viewers on this particular broadcaster's mobile app, which helps achieve the highest level of digitalisation of viewers and makes them multi-screen users.

Reality TV

We used the example of Big Brother for a reason: reality shows are also a perfect match for the second screen. While sports games can significantly boost engagement in a short burst, reality shows typically last longer. Their viewers develop a habit of being connected to the show and its characters and participants and always have something to discuss. This content is also perfect for quizzes, polls, and additional games because, on the one hand, there's always a topic to discuss in a reality show, and on the other hand, there aren't many things happening all the time. Giving users the opportunity to do something else besides watching while still staying engaged with the content can be a great solution for your show and its fanbase. For example, the show "Love Island" created a specific app for viewers to use as a second screen. The app allowed viewers to participate in elimination votes during the broadcast, and the results affected the episodes of the show. The launch results were impressive: hundreds of thousands of app downloads, record-breaking viewer counts, and loads of positive feedback.

Talk Shows/Game Shows/Live Events

These categories may not be as obvious as sports or as frequent as reality shows, but live events like elections or award shows can also be the perfect base for launching a second screen. While viewers might find it difficult to concentrate on the screen for the entire duration of an all-day election broadcast or an awards ceremony that lasts all night, these events are still significant. As a broadcaster, you want to get the most out of them. Gathering viewers on a digital screen keeps them engaged and within the broadcast event's sphere. It also helps keep them updated and provides them with an interlocutor to discuss the winner without waiting for the morning. This fosters a sense of community and makes them feel like they are part of the event itself.


The second screen has become so important that a new term, "social TV," has emerged. It's defined as the use of communication technology to connect television viewers in order to create shared experiences around television content remotely. This includes communicating with others while watching television. Social TV situations significantly impact how viewers form opinions about the content of broadcasts, even if it comes at the expense of shaping an independent position or opinion. In the streaming and social media era, forcing people to form opinions about your content and discuss it can be quite challenging. Therefore, avoiding such easy-to-use technology can be a big mistake.


Feel free to contact us if you want to discuss how to implement a second screen for your broadcast to enhance the user experience through social tools.


For writing this article, we used the materials from:

"Social Second Screen: WhatsApp and Watching the World Cup," by Dana Weimann-Saks, Yaron Ariel, and Vered Elishar-Malka, 2019

Get in Touch

If you want to partner with us or get more details, please schedule a demo meeting by filling in the form. We'll get in touch with you shortly.