For all of the attention that Second Screen has received lately, there has yet to be any products developed for the space that has pushed the movement mainstream.
There are some good points in this article and it’s interesting to think of second screens as an 'emerging mobile vertical'. It is worth adding though that in addition to boredom, enforced viewing i.e. a partner watching a show you’re not interested in triggers second screen use. However, neither of these use cases is likely to result in true second screen usage i.e. activities integrally related to primary screen content. The existing second screen behaviour that really created this emerging space is the need for discovery: finding content to watch; finding information related to what is being watched; and finding out what others think about it.
This presents two big challenges for second screen app developers:
1) To make the discovery route second nature. Consumer will take the path with least resistance. This requires apps to be as intuitive as possible with the least number of hurdles that may distract from viewing.
2) Currently the easiest route to content discovery is the traditional Remote Control Device (RCD); for related information it is Google, Wikipedia or IMDb searches and for social validation it's the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Modifying ingrained user behaviours may be difficult.
Fragmentation is an issue. Chuck Parker, chair of the Second Screen Society currently has over 70 second screen apps on his tablet and is tracking over 130 more. Clearly this is an increasingly crowded market. In an in-depth industry report Chuck predicts that this will continue, marked by consolidation, failure and improved user experiences.
Increasing there are calls for some levels of standardisation, which can often be seen as signs of a technology maturing.
Healthy debate exists around the merits of show specific apps versus umbrella apps owned by networks or the likes of zeebox. There are advantages for show specific apps. However, the problem is that when the show ends the audience is lost - think NBC's Olympics app. Fox have now consolidated multiple shows into the Fox Now second screen offering.
Earlier this year, Hardie Tankersley at Fox said in an Engadget interview "We're investing just enough to be in the game and to try to learn something about it." However, this does not mean Second Screen is something that is added on as an afterthought. As Tankersley says, "For a produced show like Bones or New Girl, it starts with the origin of the script. When the first script comes in we start planning with the show what the second screen content is going to be, what the merchandise that we'll sell is going to be and it gets developed in that writers room."
Hopes of a transmedia heavy future for television where viewers can choose their own ending are unlikely to be realised. All that extra content to provide different paths costs money to produce. It doesn't really sit well with the lean-back behaviours associated with TV viewing so is an experience best left to games developers who have a proven audience and means of monetisation.