(Originally posted at Transmedia Coalition)
It’s 2013, and Second Screen is all around us, touted as the Next Big Thing. All of the major broadcast networks seem to have some sort of second screen sync app now, by which you can get “extra” content on your smartphone or tablet while you’re watching your favorite shows. CBS, Fox, ABC, NBC, SyFy, AMC… Sounds pretty cool, right?
But try out one of these apps, and it becomes apparent that they’re a solution in search of a problem. It seems like the main uses seem to be leveraging social media (JOIN THE CONVERSATION!), polls, trivia, links to actors’ IMDB pages, and, puzzlingly, behind-the-scenes videos (am I supposed to pause the main screen while I watch these?)
Who actually uses these apps once they’ve tried them out? Nobody is revealing actual numbers, although the metrics that do leak out aren’t all that great. A recent second screen initiative for The Next Iron Chef: Redemption was only used by a maximum of 3,000 people each week for eight weeks, according to Channing Dawson, a senior advisor of Scripps Networks Interactive.
Could this be because the content is…just not that fun? At present, there’s plenty of awesome syncing and transmedia technology out there, providing fresh, pristine canvases on which to paint, but everybody’s struggling with not only what to paint on them, but how to effectively go about developing the paint itself. According to Sherry Brennan, senior vice president of sales strategy and development for Fox Networks, “We’re all convinced that second screen is here to stay…The question is, what do you do on second screens? What do consumers want there? That’s what’s evolving.”