Second Screen

The term “second screen” represents a second screen, which is used parallel to your main screen. Users may watch a television program, show or movie and want to get relevant information about this media content simultaneously on a second monitor. Special apps, widgets and online services are offered in the context of second screens to make TV more interactive and to facilitate the linking of program and users. Other names are multi-screen, second screen TV or parallel use.

General information[edit]

The term second screen denotes a phenomenon which has been observed for several years now: viewers of television programs, movies, and shows aren’t just watching TV, but are getting information about the current TV program often using a second screen (smartphones, tablets or laptops). For example, they may type the names of the protagonists from a film or show in the Google search box or access a Wikipedia article. They interact in social networks and comment on current events in regards to television. This is often done on Twitter and Facebook in the form of microblog posts and status updates that are associated with the respective medium using hashtags. Nowadays, there are even specific apps, social platforms and sites that deal exclusively with the issue of second screens.

Several studies indicate that the use of media has changed dramatically through mobile devices not only with respect to television. In the age groups of 14 to 29 years, about 81% use smartphones to access websites, email or social networks. Within the 30 to 49 age group, there are 74% who use a laptop to access the Internet. Furthermore, parallel usage of two screens has increased. This is evident from the ARD / ZDF Online Study from 2014.

The phenomenon of second screens is even more widespread in the US with its connection to TV being even more evident. Twitter TV is a phenomenon where Twitter users watch TV and then send tweets concerning the current program. Just in 2013, there were 990 million tweets directly related to a TV program. A new discussion platform has been created, generating new interaction patterns which is now used by marketers, publishers and media producers.


  • Many media producers offer their customers special apps with which users can consume media products on a second screen.
  • Services like Zeebox, Miso, GetGlue or Umami offer integrative solutions for second screen models. They combine the consumption of media content with user involvement. On these platforms, users can log into a discussion on a particular television program. Experts describe this as the second screen experience.


  • Users can comment on what is happening on the Sunday night show of Tatort and add the hashtag #tatort to their post.
  • Users can search for the next question of the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” show in Wikipedia or post the answer to it on their social profile on Facebook.

Importance for the mobile marketing[edit]

Generally, it is assumed that second screen technologies constitute a positive contribution to the marketing mix and increase the attractiveness of a TV program. While it is undisputed that the use of mobile devices continues to increase, current developments in Germany do not lead to the conclusion that second screen offers will become a necessary part of television programs. Especially since almost no user would ever install an app for his favorite shows or movies.

Users publish their tweets and status updates anyhow, even if there is no special app to connect consumers and TV shows directly. This does not mean though that media producers should not provide an option for their consumers to use the media with different devices. On the contrary, media should be accessible to as many devices as possible. Whether a social platform for interaction goes along with it, is another question. Platforms like Zeebox or GetGlue are trying to solve this problem by offering a central network for many different television programs along with social discussions.

The aspect of changing media usage patterns is of interest to marketers. Through the use of a second screen more ad space is available. Second screen advertising is characterized by a direct relationship to the activities and interests of the user. This promises a maximum amount of relevance to the placement of mobile ads on smartphones and tablets. But even here there are still things that are unworkable because the second screen phenomenon arose from the boredom of users. On the first screen they will see advertising, on the second screen they will do activities to pass the time of the commercial break. If ads are now also displayed on the second screen, it can quickly lead to banner blindness.