Second screen and binge watching: why they are a perfect couple

Written on 11 March 2014
By: Emanuela Zaccone

Some days ago, on Piksel’s blog Miles Weaver wrote about the role of binge and on-demand watching during 2013. The first months of 2014 seem to confirm that trend: the second season of House of Cards was a hit, and Netflix were able to use its long tail thanks also to some smart Social Media activities, such as the cross storytelling with Scandal. Already last year we noticed how social interactions could represent a driver for series consumption.

In a context in which personal watching habits are gaining even more attention, is there space for the second screen in non-live shows? I think so.

Second screen is  often associated with real-time watching experience, but there is a place for it also in non real-time.

First of all, we need a distinction based on purposes to use a second screen app: the best one is the one published by the 2nd Screen society that we quoted also in our latest blog post, talking about second screen anatomy.
Some of the actions you can perform – such as discovery, multitasking and control – require real time watching.
Some others don't.


Look at the core experience of second screen: it connects us with others and amplifies our watching experience. We make other people know what we are watching, we interact with trivia, we tweet in real time about a show.

First purpose then is: “wanting to share an experience with others”.
The “delay” brought by on-demand is a false problem for second screen.
Just think about the watch-marathons: they aim to consolidate a community, share the passion about a show and definitely bring fans together. This is the core of any fandom phenomenon.

We should just bring this experience to the second screen.

When designing our apps, for example, we wanted to give people back the emotion of watching sport together, as if they were on the same couch. That’s why they can create virtual living rooms with no more than four users.
This same experience can be recreated when watching TV shows: imagine an app that lets you set up a virtual living room, anytime anywhere and retrieve information about the show from third party sources.
It’s exactly like going to a theatre and spend the night with other Lost's fans or inviting your friends at home to watch the first three Game of Thrones' seasons before the fourth is on air.

It is a natural. And second screen allows it. Better, on-demand and binge-watching are perfect for these social, longer experiences.

There’s more than real time for second screen.

We should not think about second screen and on-demand as opposite sides, because they are complementary experiences. Users decide how to live them.

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