By Jessica Oaks
Tablets have quickly become a pervasive part of modern life since the original iteration of the Apple iPad was introduced in 2010. In fact, tablets have become so popular that they have created a phenomenon that many in the tech industry are referring to as the “second screen” – a screen that, increasingly, allows for interaction with apps, games and the Internet while watching television or a movie. Tablets are becoming more and more prevalent.
Statistics in a Business Insider report show that tablets are used far more often than smartphones as a second screen (that is, a supplement to the television). There are many reasons that could explain this popularity – such as form factor, size or tailored television apps that are optimized for tablets. However, the important consideration for many businesses, including television networks, retailers, production companies and game companies, is what to do about it.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them.
The initial assumption may be that television viewers having access to a second screen is inherently bad for the networks and the advertisers. After all, a second screen means a distraction and less attention paid to the television. However, retailers and television networks can actually take advantage of this second screen, and turn what would otherwise be a hindrance into an asset.
Many apps provide viewers with supplementary content, similar to what can be found on the bonus discs that often come with Blu-ray and DVD packages. For television shows, these apps may include cast and crew comments, behind-the-scenes footage, extra scenes, or provide for a means of interacting with fans through social media.
For advertisers, an app is perhaps the best way to maintain a potential customer’s attention once their commercial has finished. An app can be passively marketed towards a viewer, or in some cases, actively marketed. Many companies are now encouraging users to open Shazam during their commercials to access additional information. This advertising approach is made possible because of the unique capabilities of tablets.
Tablets are more convenient for consuming media than traditional desktop PCs because tablets are lightweight, portable and have a long-lasting battery. Viewers don’t have to get up and walk to their computer to watch exclusive footage after finishing their show on TV. They can simply grab their tablet and access the content.
With more and more manufacturers creating tablets, these devices are quickly becoming more affordable. In fact, tech giants such as Lenovo, Google and Samsung have created several of the best entertainment tablets for less than $300. And, thanks to wireless service providers like T-Mobile, people can purchase the Google Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab with low-cost data plans and with no binding contract.
Since tablets are becoming more prevalent in households, many television networks – such as Bravo, AMC and NBC – now have their own tablet-specific apps that serve as content streams for fans. These apps are particularly helpful to networks because it allows them to maintain control over advertising. There still exists a mentality that “the Internet is free,” but advertisements before and during videos are becoming more and more accepted (likely due in no small part to YouTube), allowing networks to advertise on their mobile content.
The tablet computer is not going away, a lesson that many retailers and television networks are now learning. To thrive in the future, this fact will have to be embraced rather than bemoaned.
Jessica is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.