This week’s topic is “multitasking and second screening.” While the term was new to me, I quickly realized while going through the readings how prevalent second screening has been in my life without me being entirely aware of it. Even as I am typing this, my attention is divided between 3 screens: my laptop that I am typing and researching on, my iPhone that I am using to communicate with friends and check social media, and my television that I am using to halfheartedly watch Impractical Jokers. As a teenager, “co-viewing” (as the Williams and Gonlin article refers to it as) was definitely a part of my communication with friends. Even before my friends and I had smartphones, I distinctly remember us texting each other while we watched live episodes of American Idol, and Skyping friends while watching movies when we lived in different states. It was like we were viewing shows and movies together even though we weren’t in the same location.
For the most part, the readings identify second screening as a very new, underexplored concept that can generally lead to positive experiences. The articles by Gil de Zúñiga et al., and Gil de Zúñiga and Liu point to second screening as something that increase political participation and engagement, and encourage a more informed society. The article by Williams and Gonlin, too, explicitly describes how second screening increases a sense of community, particularly in often demonized minority groups such as black women.
In general, I enjoyed reading these studies and I felt that they are informative. I did have one small issue with the graphs in the article “Second Screening Politics in the Social Media Sphere: Advancing Research on Dual Screen Use in Political Communication with Evidence from 20 Countries.” Maybe it was just my bad eyesight, but it was hard for me to tell the difference between the multiple groups on Figures 2 through 6. I think that these graphics could have been improved slightly by making the difference in groups clearer.
I did some research on second screening in entertainment television to see how networks are reacting to second screening. One example is AMC’s development of Story Synch, an app designed to be used during a show’s airing to keep the audience engaged. The app was designed initially just for The Walking Dead, but was later expanded to shows like The Killing, Breaking Bad, and its spin-off Better Call Saul. Story Synch includes additional information about what is going on in the show, and it lets the audience vote on polls predicting certain events or opinions, encouraging them to interact with one another and thus be further engaged with the show. Additionally, the app has social media functions built in, making it easy for users to share their experience. Story Synch seems to have enjoyed a bit of success, winning an Outstanding Interactive Program award in the 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony.
A CNN article from 2012 mentions a few business and apps that tried to jump onto the second screening bandwagon, but missed the mark, evident by the fact that the links to these all of companies and apps (GetGlue, Miso, Yap.tv, and Yahoo’s IntoNow) are all defunct as of six years later. I think it would be worth exploring what determines effectiveness in second screen experiences and apps in entertainment.