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Execs wrestle with second screen

NATPE: The second screen was a trending topic here in Miami yesterday as new research from Natpe revealed that top producers see it is an inevitable part of the industry’s future.

The study, which interviewed the likes of Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and CSI franchise creator Anthony Zuiker, found that the majority of producers believe a second screen can be used as a tool “to drive viewers back” to first screen content.

However, the survey – the second part of a Natpe/Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) joint study and presented during a panel session yesterday – also highlighted that producers are still searching for the best ways to use technology to create a “seamless” viewing experience.

“The results of this research, along with the findings on the consumer technology side that were presented at CES, offer a truly ground-breaking look at the opportunities and challenges we face with the second screen phenomenon,” said Natpe president and CEO Rod Perth.

“This research offers great insight into the value of program brands and how to sustain them before, during and after they air, which ultimately benefits both advertisers and consumers.”

The paper, which featured praise of the second screen experiences in television series such as The Walking Dead and Scandal, caused several execs sitting on yesterday’s panel sessions to question the role of second screen in the future of the TV industry.

Kevin Conroy, president of Univision Interactive and Enterprise Development, maintained that the “large screen still wins” and that it remains the best way for consumers to experience content.

“The mistake people sometimes make is when they think they know what the user wants and they construct things in a way that doesn’t give the user an option,” said Conroy.

“It’s about enabling the user to feel in control. Whether we call it social TV or a second screen experience, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is allowing the user to opt in to enjoy something that goes beyond the main screen.”

Meanwhile, Wayne Scholes, CEO of software company Red Touch Media, said the lines between second and first screen devices had now blurred.

“It’s fairly clear now that the second screen doesn’t exist the way used to think it did,” Scholes said. “The first screen is often the second screen and vice versa – it’s wherever we are at the time.”

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