The ABC’s of Second Screen Entertainment: Apps, Banality, Conan, and Disney

The use of second screen content, and the means in which to find and display this, is still rudimentary. The most common exploration of this is QR codes, and their use is still vaguely small. During a research questionnaire presented to the general public about QR codes, 40 out of 52 people had no clue what a QR code was. (, 2014) This suggests then that its usefulness is yet to be explored fully. In terms of fully-fledged technology, it has yet to reach its potential. That is not to say however, that there hasn’t been any worthwhile exploration into Second Screen content and its applications.

The widest use of Second Screen content is in the realms of social media and Television. Shows that encourage audience participation, particularly reality television, are rife with companion apps. In a recent survey, it was found that;
81% of people used second screen whilst watching TV, and 86% looked up information about shows they watch. (Abhishek Nandakumar, Janet Murray 2014) The bane of modern television can be summarised into two words. X – Factor. While its legitimacy as ‘entertain’ is something for another discussion, it does make good use of second screen content, by way of the ‘X Factor App’. (ITV, 2016) The main purpose of the app is to engage the audience into becoming the ‘5th judge’. This allows them to vote (for free, compared to the usual ‘this phone call will cost your normal coverage rate, except we’ll keep you on the phone 100 times longer than you need to be and charge you an excessive sum’.) and in turn, take a larger role in the shaping of the show. What makes this a particularly successive application of second screen content is the inclusion of ratings, personal predictions, and knowledge-based quizzes. The predictions allows the audience to continue talking about the show after its finished. By incorporating a social media aspect, audiences are encouraged to keep discussing what they’ve watched, how they feel about it, and what they want to happen next.


Discovering Social TV and Second Screens (Jonas Karpinnen, 2013)

Late 2016 saw one of the newest applications of second screen content in the form of Conan O’Brien. A Tablet App called ‘Team Coco Sync’ has accompanied his weekly Late Night Show, broadcast live on US Television. The app allows audiences to see ‘behind the scenes’ information relating to the episode they’re watching. Again, this augments the TV experience. The notion that a second screen is needed during the television experience, is down to surveys that suggest audiences aged between 18 and 21 use a second screen to multitask 81% of the time. One of its greatest achievements in created a seamless viewing experience is its use with the Tablet’s microphone.

‘According to, the app stays in sync with the episode being watched by using the tablet’s microphone to “listen” to where the viewer is in the show. This means you don’t need to be watching the show live to use the in sync features. ‘

Second Screen adapts less favourably towards film, and as such, its examples are rare. The most notable platform however, is the ‘Disney 2nd Screen’ applications. The fall-down to this however, is that the series focuses on older Disney films, re-mastering them, and adding the behind the scenes features to the viewing experiences. The rerelease of ‘The Little Mermaid’ (2013) added sing-along karaoke style lyrics onto the second screen, encouraging audiences to sing along. This is particularly pertinent for Disney, being that the audio experience is paramount to the film franchise. While this works well for Disney, it adds nothing more to the pre-existing story. Likewise, the other features of the ‘Disney 2nd Screen’ experience are quiz based, with the film stopping every once in a while to allow the audience to answer a question about what they’ve just watched. This does however mean that audiences are encouraged to pay attention to the film in front of them, instead of multitasking, and the experience isn’t ruined by missing something on the big screen, by paying attention to the smaller one.

It’s only a matter of time before we see more explorations into second screen content. As the surveys suggest, the knowledge of second screen is constantly growing, and as such, more innovative trans media narratives are surely yet to come.



Taking inspiration from last week’s split screen meanderings, and using second screen content, we created a short one minute crime-drama that used three frames on the first screen, and additional information to the story on the second. The second screen is meant to be used simultaneously, and imagines what the detective would be thinking in his head to work out the mystery. I think it worked quite well as it didn’t distract from any story telling on the first screen. Given more time, the artefact would have been developed further, adding a better story, and a more cohesive way of starting both screens, and currently, you have to time it well, pressing start on both screens at once. Despite that being difficult, I feel there was enough wiggle-room that if you weren’t quick on the mark to start the second video, you’d still be in the right sort of time, story-wise.
You can check it out below:

First Screen

Second Screen



My 3Q. QR Code survey.

Nielsen and Yahoo. Mobile shopping framework: The role of mobile devices in the shopping process. the-role-of-mobile-devices-in-shopping-process.html, 2010.



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