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For TV, will “second screen” become first?

December 14, 2012

Are iPads the future of television? At the recent “TV of Tomorrow” conference in New York, executives mostly talked about the iPad, which they call the “second screen,” reports. “The experience of television is moving off the primary screen,” Dale Herigstad, chief interaction officer at the design firm Possible, is quoted as saying. For an industry built on advertising, seeing viewers change habits is both a threat and an opportunity. 

Companies that produce content are under pressure to build apps and create multi-screen experiences. “You have to be absolutely relevant on all the platforms,” says Stephanie Otto, CEO of design firm Brainstorm Communications. Jeremy Toeman of Dijit says light fare like reality shows performs best on the iPad, because viewers don’t have to watch closely. And even as it tailors content for tablets, the industry worries Apple will make a TV of its own.

As people pay less attention to the TV and more to their tablets, new ad platforms open up, along with the potential for major revenue streams. Still, not everyone is sold on the “second screen” promise. Lawrence Brickman, VP of Accedo, which develops smart-TV apps, says the first screen is being left out of the conversation. For consumers, app-driven content is a fragmented mess, says Anand Subramanian of startup NimbleTV. “What works best on television,” he says, “is television.” — Greg Beaubien


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