Are you a multitasking second screener? Do you actively use your smartphone, tablet or laptop while watching TV - not to distract yourself from the program you're watching (good luck with that) but to become more immersed in it?
If so, you're part of a trend that finds more and more TV viewers moving from the traditional single-screen experience with all eyes glued on the big screen toward a "second-screen" experience where your mobile device becomes a ready source of all sorts of information about your favorite shows and sporting events. And we're not just talking about doing Google searches to learn more about the lead actor. We're talking about apps that, in addition to providing relevant information, transform TV viewing into an interactive social experience.
On the other hand, if you still sit in front of the TV, remote in hand, channel surfing and scrolling aimlessly through the program guide to find something good to watch, we regret to inform you that you are now officially part of a dying breed. But don't despair: Transitioning to the bold new world of second-screen TV is as easy as downloading an app.
Get the App
If you want to see what second-screen TV is all about, checking the websites of favorite shows to see if an app is available is a good place to start. An increasing number of TV networks are creating show-specific apps that dish up real-time content that might include notifications of "special guest" appearances or opportunities for live chats with actors and writers, polls related to the episode you're watching, and check-in features so you can see what other fans and (sometimes) the actors are saying about the storyline.
Some are imaginative and engaging, others not so much. It all depends on how much effort was put into the app. Examples of show-specific apps include the Team Coco app for TBS's Conan and CBS Connect, a new app for fans of NCIS: Los Angeles, CSI, and Hawaii Five-O.
Sports fans can download SportStream, a free app that provides real-time stats for the team and individual players, "highly relevant, high quality social media streams," including commentary from athletes and sportswriters, and the opportunity to talk trash with other fans during the game.
Prefer an über-app that syncs up with your cable or satellite system to deliver an across-the-board second-screen experience? Check out Zeebox, a super-smart program guide with social integration that provides a new way to discover shows. You can even link the guide to your cable or satellite box and change channels using your phone or tablet. Want to know which shows are most popular? Scroll down the "Hot on TV Right Now" list and see how top shows are trending. Or check the Biggest Buzz area to see which shows are generating the most tweets per minute.
Still in its infancy, the world of second screen TV is sure to grow and (hopefully) become better. In the meantime, have fun multitasking around your favorite shows. You just might be surprised what you find.