The rise and rise of ‘second screening’

21 August 2012

  • Use of other screens while watching TV: a source of excitement or concern? 
  • Nearly half of all 16-24 year olds use messaging, email, Facebook or Twitter to discuss what they are viewing on TV
  • 80 per cent talk to other people in the same room while watching TV, another means of distracted viewing

The rise of ‘second screening’ - the use of other screens, such as laptops, smartphones and tablets while watching TV – is a source of excitement and concern for many in the TV and technology industry according to a new report from Deloitte launched this week.

Nearly a quarter of all respondents (24%) use second screens. The most active second screening takes place among young people, nearly half of all 16-24 year olds use communication tools such as messaging, email, Facebook, or Twitter to discuss what they are watching on TV*. The vast majority of over 55s (79%) never talk about what they’re watching on TV on the internet.

There is muted appetite for interaction with TV programmes. Only one in ten people browse the internet for information about the programme they are watching. Some viewers (40%) like being able to send their comments in to a live programme. However, 68% would not want the websites for products, personalities or adverts that have just been shown on television, to automatically appear on their computer, tablet, or smartphone**.

Paul Lee, director of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte, comments: “Second screening’s impact is far greater in driving conversations about a programme, as opposed to interaction with it. Second screening may well end up with a similar status as eating in front of the TV: an everyday experience for some; absolutely unthinkable for others. One thing is certain: it is here for good.

“Browsing the web whilst watching television is undertaken “frequently” by a third of the sample.  This might be a brand new technology-enabled distraction or it might simply represent the swapping of an analogue distraction for a digital one. Browsing while watching television typically means flitting between a preferred set of websites, often comprising news, sports, e-commerce. Time spent on these may be a substitute for reading newspapers and magazines, or looking through catalogues.”

Assessing the return on investment
Any investment in second screen content is likely to reduce resources for the first screen, television content. So programme makers face a predicament. Should they invest all their funds and creative energies in making main screen content as good as possible? Or should they blend the first and second screen experience, creating more impact in the currency of additional or more attentive viewers, and therefore greater revenue potential?

Paul Lee concludes: “The challenge for second screen content today is that it is likely to be relatively expensive as we are still in an experimental, bespoke phase. Every pound spent on second screen content may be a pound diverted from the first screen; in order to justify the investment content creators need to get the balance right between all screens.

“In time, creating official second screen experiences should become more formulaic and more easily reduced to a template. The more standardised second screen content creation becomes, the easier it should be to attain a positive return on investment.”


Notes to editors
* They do this frequently (20%) or occasionally (29%). Source: Deloitte/GfK, June 2012. Sample: all respondents answering this module (2,000, nationally representative).
**The group who use the internet to connect with a programme.

About the research
Deloitte has produced this report as part of its continuing support for the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival (MGEITF). This is the sixth year in which Deloitte has proudly supported the Festival.

Deloitte’s roles and responsibilities for this report have entailed the research, writing and publishing of the report. The principal research inputs include:

  • Discussions between January and July 2012 with executives, investors and analysts working in and with the television industry in the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe and North America.
  • An online survey of 4,000 respondents, undertaken by GfK and based on a question set written by Deloitte and GfK reflecting inputs from industry executives. Fieldwork took place during June 2012. The survey was modularised and the sample split in half so that a representative sample of 2,000 respondents answered each of the two sets of modules. This modularised approach was implemented to ensure quality of response throughout the entire questionnaire. Respondents were sampled/weighted to reflect the UK adult population (16+).
  • Copious consumption of television and second screen apps.

Existing analyses of the television industry, including previous years’ reports for MGEITF, are available from or please contact

The research themes were determined through consultation between Deloitte, executives from the television, general media, technology and telecommunications industries, GfK and the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Views expressed by third parties providing input for this report are not necessarily those of Deloitte.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

About GfK Media
GfK NOP Media is the UK media division of the GfK Group global network based in 100 countries, which has its headquarters in Nurnberg, Germany.

As the largest provider of quantitative media research information in Europe, GfK has unsurpassed experience of working with JICs across all media, delivering robust results from a failsafe production system, within a transparent framework to meet industry needs.

About GfK
GfK NOP Ltd is part of GfK, one of the world’s largest research companies, with more than 11,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2011, GfK’s sales amounted to EUR 1.37 billion. For further information, visit our website: Follow us on Twitter: