CES 2013: Second Screen Use On The Rise, But Revenue Is Not

During CES last week, representatives from television networks, software companies, cable providers and advertising firms gathered for the Second Screen Summit. 2012 was a busy year for second screens, as multiple companies, along with the Olympics, came out with companion products. But the direction and profitability of second screens remain in question.

While audiences are undeniably increasing their sociability during television viewing, it’s difficult to tell how second screen apps will make money independently.

“According to Nielsen stats, $266 billion dollars were spent on TV ads during the first half of 2012. On the other hand, Delivery Agent, a firm that provides e-commerce platforms for major networks, says merchandising sales they handle for second screen apps only rake in several hundred thousand dollars in each instance,” reports Engadget.

Alan Wolk, global lead analyst for Kit digital, imagines going beyond mere companion app content. “In Wolk’s vision of the near future, cable companies will focus on using tablets that act as remote controls and TV guide replacements with baked-in second screen experiences,” notes the post.

“Wolk goes so far as to suggest that cable providers will focus on making tablets their main hardware presence in the living room instead of leaning on set-top boxes. He also estimates that tablets will be offered up on lease like set-top boxes, but pitched to consumers as “free.”‘

But control of the second screen app experience may prove a balancing act between the networks, cable providers and various third parties. “Every Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will give you a tablet app that has all this remote control functionality on it,” explains Wolk. “They will then buy up whether it’s GetGlue, Viggle, Miso or whatever and it will all be incorporated into these different apps which they will use to compete with each other.”

Some networks are beginning to package shows together within second screen apps, while others are even brainstorming about second screens during the writing and production stages of TV show creation.

“Since an ever growing number of people carry second screens in their pockets and shoulder bags every day, apps are bound to continue proliferating as factions vie for more eyeballs and a cut of the revenue,” notes Engadget. “Concerted efforts towards consolidation are sure to occur, but we’re still very much in the wild west of the second screen.”