The second screen – same as the first? Or more than just a place to do marketing?

For years now we’ve talked about the promise of the so-called “second screen”, but what has been delivered to-date? Firstly, it’s interesting to think about how the terminology has changed over time. For a while there, all the excitement was about the “third screen,” the theory being that the computer was the second screen and mobile was the third screen. But with the birth of iOS devices and the changing landscape of media delivery, everything is now lumped into just the second screen.

Second screen experiences pose a number of challenges that span from the limits of technology to the limited imagination of content creators. Right now, second screen experiences tend to be f0cused on either wrapping social experiences around what you’re watching, or giving you access to some bonus content. But what else can we do? Can the second screen be utilized to truly revolutionize television as we know it? Can it define the future of storytelling?

The obvious uses of second screens are things like:

1) Sports. Give me access to all the extra data that I can geek out about. Let me manage my fantasy teams.

2) Watch with my friends. It’s a basic truth that media is inherently social, and every media company has experimented with ways to bring the watercooler into the living room.

3) Bonus and behind the scenes content. Self-explanatory.

But is this enough?

Imagine we were to create a TV show from scratch today. A truly “transmedia” TV show where we break all the rules about linear storytelling. A show that takes advantage of multicast capabilities so that everyone watching may have a different experience. What does TV start to look like?

Imagine being able to switch to parallel stories and follow different character POVs. Imagine being able to have your own image superimposed into a show so that _you_ become a character. The possibilities are limitless once creators embrace the idea that the second screen is more than just a place to do marketing.