Full second-screen potential remains unfulfilled by viewers, finds report

New data from The NPD Group reveals that 88 percent of U.S. households own at least one device that can be used as a second screen.

Nearly the same percentage — 87 percent — of U.S. entertainment consumers say they use at least one second-screen device while watching television. These multitasking consumers are splitting their attention between their televisions and their laptops, tablets, smartphones and other second-screen devices.

However, although the data on the surface would appear to be good news for broadcasters, one finding in particular raises potentially disturbing questions for distributors of “first-screen” looking to monetize the second screen.

The NPD Group Data reveal that although multitasking is common, viewers are less willing to use their second-screen devices to interact directly with applications designed specifically for the TV programs they are watching.

Among TV viewers who use second-screen devices, only 47 percent have participated in second-screen activities. The most common TV-to-second-screen interaction was learning more about the TV program they were watching, and finding out about the actors in that program. Viggle, zeebox and other apps designed to enhance second-screen engagement are not commonly used by consumers. Instead, of those TV watchers who engage in second-screen activities, most interact with their TV experience by visiting IMDb, Wikipedia and social networks.

"Viewers are interested in searching to find further information about TV shows they are watching, but they are not using games and other immersive applications created as a component of the programming," said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. "This situation creates a potential diversion from advertising, and it will take a combined effort from content owners, advertisers, broadcasters, and others to present an aligned second-screen experience that will appeal to viewers."

The information, presented in NPD's "Digital Video Outlook Second Screens Report," reveals that play-along games, check-in rewards, live voting and other interactive features are highly effective for the minority of second-screen viewers, but do not resound with most.

Shopping for a product seen in a TV commercial was the third most popular second-screen activity. In particular, laptop users and consumers between the ages of 35 and 49 were most likely to shop for products via their second-screen devices, according to the report.

The NPD findings also showed that over the past three months, individuals using a second-screen alternative while watching TV were most likely to engage in simultaneous use of PCs (60 percent), followed by smartphones (55 percent) and tablets (49 percent).

"Converting viewers into impulse shoppers has big potential impact for advertisers, who can leverage second screens to further connect with consumers watching TV," Crupnick said.