What is second screening?

What is second screening and how do you know if you’re doing it right?

18 Apr 2016

Do you ever find yourself glued to your tablet or smartphone while you’re watching TV? 

Whether you’ve heard of it or not – chances are you’ve probably second screened at some point. You may even do it every day.

Here we look at the common types of second screener and help you decide which one is most like you.

Facebook second screening

What is second screening?

Second screening is having one eye on the TV and another on your tablet or smartphone to play games, tweet, browse the web, or watch the footy.

Sound like you? According to Ofcom, 56% of UK adults claim to have second screened while watching TV.


Armchair football analyst

In a nutshell… not satisfied with keeping track of just the score on the telly, you’ve got the whole league table up on your tablet screen.

Like reading expert commentary on the BBC Sport homepage, or swatting up on live scores and player profiles? Loads of second screeners do this, with apps created especially for major sporting events from tennis to horseracing, and dedicated social media hubs like Facebook Sports Stadium.


Social media chatterer

In a nutshell… you’re always in the loop with your friends, even when you’re supposed to be winding down in front of the TV.

Perhaps you’re one of those second screeners who chats with friends and tweet about what you're watching. You wouldn’t be alone – 22% of us use social media while watching the TV (source: Ofcom).
So what are the shows that get us talking? According to research by Kantar, the most tweeted about TV shows in the UK for 2015 were:

  • The Brit Awards (ITV) – 2,012,955 tweets
  • Eurovision Song Contest (BBC) – 1,625,819 tweets
  • Leaders’ Debate (ITV) – 1,590,680 tweets


Mobile gaming addict

In a nutshell… know your Clash of Clans from your Candy Crush Saga?

A lot of second screeners play games on their tablet or smartphone while watching TV – in fact, 78% of US fans revealed that they enjoy switching-and-matching Candy most while watching the TV. While its makers, King.com, revealed the most popular time fans play Candy Crush Saga is between 6 and 9pm – also prime TV viewing hours.


Sofa shopper

In a nutshell… TV watching is spent reading blogs, swatting up on the latest product reviews and making impulse buys

If you’re partial to a spot of online shopping from the comfort of your couch then you’re not alone. Figures from the e-tail industry body, IMRG, reveal that we use tablets for 6% of all retail sales as we shop from our sofas – probably with the TV on.

 second screening

In-the-room viewers

In a nutshell… the TV is mostly background noise, as you have another device you can get lost in instead

According to a study by Ofcom, families in the UK are now more likely to watch TV together than they have been in more than a decade – probably for this reason…

So the next time your Dad wants to watch MasterChef, or the missus wants to watch Britain’s Got Talent, reach for your tablet or Smartphone and spend some quality sofa time together – even if you don't share the same taste in TV shows.


TV voter

In a nutshell… you’re hooked on voting or playing along with your favourite shows

Production companies have caught on to how much we use our second screens – and are now developing apps that go hand-in-hand with our favourite TV shows.

Download apps like The Million Pound Drop, and play along with the contestants on-screen to see if you fare better. Or take the judge’s seat and vote for your winner on the X Factor app.

Any of these ring a bell with you? Get the right tech for second screening with our range of tablets


Top tips for the best second screening and TV viewing experience 

Curry 's Currys Perfect Position To Tweet

With so many people tweeting while watching telly, we thought we'd help people do it right. So we got together with interiors expert Oliver Heath to reveal the perfect position to tweet while watching TV.

Together we came up with the following formula:
Optimum screen size to screen distance + screen type + lighting = second screening delight

Basically it's all about sitting the right distance from your TV, at the correct angle with the right lighting... 


Tips to make sure you're sitting the right distance from your set

When watching TV while second screening on your tablet, you should sit straight on, with your eye level at the centre of the screen. The distance you're sitting from the screen should relate to the size of your TV, whether you're second screening or just watching TV. 

For example if you're watching a 40-inch TV then you should sit 2.5m from the set. The chart below should help you:

Screen Size Viewing Distance
Up to 32inch: Less than 1.5m
32-39inch: 1.5 - 2m
40-45inch: 1.5m - 2.5m
46-55inch: 2.5 - 3m
Over 56inch: Over 3m

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