Hide the kids, lock up the pets, the second screen is coming to get you. *Cue evil background laugh.*

Like B-grade sci-fi, screens are multiplying, duplicating, invading, frying your brain and draining your powers of concentration.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

The picture below is the scene at my house recently.

Devices* have taken over. They are now in control. We fill every itsy bitsy teeny weeny bit of time fiddling with devices. Even time when we previously used to watch telly.

A pause in a drama is now a chasm of spare time crying out to be filled by fiddling with a device. Night after night, we sit silently on our couches, telly flickering impotently in the background, each of us with a collection of devices around us all beeping and flashing forlornly.

Kids using devices

We also demand to go deeper, instantly. Who is this twerp hosting The Voice? *dives into device losing an hour on Scottish self-promoter.*

Sometimes we don’t even watch the program on the telly, as we think it will be more entertaining to watch the program via other people’s comments about the program: “@jacquieriddell OMG I love #thevoiceau but whats with the Scottish guy hosting. @andrewg is way hotter LOL”

TV and devices are increasingly linked and interchangeable.

Our homes now have an average of four connected devices and the NBN is just around the corner providing a mega hit of the good stuff straight into our mainlines. The NBN’s future projections on bandwidth we will require are scary because of the amount of content we apparently need to download to feed our addiction. iPad users spent most of their time with the device in front of the telly. Prime time for iPads is TV prime time.

This is huge and unstoppable. Commercial telly channels are freaking out given the temptations awaiting you in the commercial break. Why watch the ads when you can be on your devices? Smart ones are seeing the opportunity to create multi-layered, multi-platform event telly to deepen audience engagement with the program, even if it is via twitter. Some are even developing social TV platforms of their own to capture and monetise your dwindling attention. Fango, Miso, Twelevision, Get Glue and counting… There’s even a website just like Mashable but dedicated to social TV (thelostremote.com). Check it out next time you are sitting in front of your telly with your devices looking for a way to fill a micro second.

Us media professionals have to get really good really fast with all this new stuff, while at the same time continuing to be really good at the old stuff. #spareathoughtforustiredoldmediatypes

But do it we must. That’s why SBS was the first network to set up a dedicated social media marketing team and is going hard into multi-platform and second screen innovation.

Us Aussies famously love our gadgets and tablet penetration is going gangbusters (not to mention all the other devices). It’s going to get a whole lot more complicated. The new frontier is connected TVs where it may all come together in one giant blob of lovely, warm, happy, friendly usability.

Then again, it may not.


*Devices = personal media devices (PMDs – not be confused with PMS, which is sometimes concurrent) = smartphones and tablets.

Jacquie Riddell
BY Jacquie Riddell ON 3 May 2012
With over 25 years experience in media innovation and leadership, Jacquie has created TV channels, radio stations, new program formats, digital media concepts and led large television productions. Currently using her skills in marketing strategy and creative leadership within various organisations, she was previously director of marketing at SBS for 6 years, responsible for brand management, creative direction, audience research, content strategy and promotion, including the development of SBS' new brand platform ‘Six (now Seven) Billion Stories and counting…’