Television is evolving in many ways and directions at once. Content is becoming available on digital and mobile services and there is a new concept called the “Second Screen“. This simply refers to the fact that many people are now watching TV with a laptop, phone or tablet with them. Second screen started mostly with people tweeting following Twitter streams while watching shows. Organized around a single hashtag, this was a good way to have a live water cooler conversation.
Now, second screen has evolved into more sophisticated dedicated applications produced by the networks themselves. MTV has a nice “watch with” app that even takes into account delayed DVR viewing. One of my current favorite shows on now is Falling Skys. TNT has a great app for Falling Skys that goes one step further and includes gaming elements. Of course it includes the Twitter water cooler and special bonus content that is all rolled out as you watch the show. The app is synced with your viewing experience. AMC’s The Walking Dead also has an app for iPhone and Android but also a Facebook app.
Using a computing device while watching TV might at first seem like a distraction, but, credit to the networks, they have turned it into an enhancement that is driving improved engagement. Following some popular shows, there are even network driven podcasts to carry the engagement through the week. The whole term “water cooler moment” was invented as it was common for employees at the same company to gather around the water cooler and talk about what happened on their favorite TV shows the previous night. Now we are looking at a global water cooler via the Internet and social media. While the TV industry still struggles with what to do about cord cutting, at least they are taking good strides on the other side to make progress and maybe innovate their way to the future.