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Second screen holds great, untapped potential for U.K. broadcasters, says study

Second screening – using a smartphone or media tablet while watching TV – not only is popular among British TV viewers but also offers a path to greater revenues and deeper viewer engagement, according to the findings of a study released Oct. 9 by media management firm Red Bee Media and digital media consultancy Decipher.

For the study, Red Bee Media and Decipher polled more than 2000 smart device owners across the U.K. about their viewing habits and attitudes regarding dual screening.

The study found 52 percent of respondents have used a second screen to access more information about a TV show and 86 percent of smart device owners have used their computer, smartphone or media tablet while watching television.

However, broadcasters, content owners and second-screen platforms are only beginning to scratch the surface of viewer engagement during their second-screen session, with just 20 percent of respondents reporting they have used a synchronous companion app while watching TV.

Still, among those who have used such an app, 78 percent expressed a preference for interacting with their favorite TV shows via their smart device when compared to using traditional approaches like telephone call-ins. Their favorite ways to interact with their smart devices included responding to TV show polls or voting at 55 percent and participating or influencing a show by playing along at 52 percent.

The study also revealed social media plays a role in what viewers decide to watch. Thirty-three percent said they are more likely to watch a show live vs. on-demand if there is a lot of social buzz about a program.

Much work appears needed before broadcasters maximize the potential of second screening, however. Just 19 percent of respondents said their ability to engage with TV shows was position. Fifty percent said they would be more likely to engage with a show if they could access it with their smart device.

The study also showed it makes good financial sense for broadcasters to promote second screening. According to the results, 56 percent are open to receiving targeted ads via synchronous apps based on the products featured on TV. Thirty percent said they would be more inclined to engage with ads if offered via a smart device while watching TV, and 40 percent said they would be willing to receive offers or promos on their smart devices based on the products featured on TV.

Twenty-five percent said they would pay for a synchronous companion app at an average price of £1.27 ($1.91) per app.