What is second screening? Tips to do it right

Use your tablet while watching TV? Then you´re second screening - read all about it in our guide

28 Apr 2014


In this guide we'll investigate the phenomenon of second screening, explaining what it is and providing some tips to help you practice it like a pro.

Second screening explained

Seconde Screening Lifestyle

Though sounding techy and complicated, second screening is a pretty simple concept.

It basically means watching one screen while also using another - one screen being the main living room TV, and the other being a tablet on your lap or a smartphone in the palm of your hand.


The rise of second screening - everyone's doing it

Our research shows more than 50% of Brits spend two hours per day second screening.
Meanwhile a separate survey from Ofcom found that 56% of all UK adults have media stacked while watching TV. This is defined as doing other things while watching TV, such as watching content or browsing the web on another device.  

Media meshing and media stacking - what's the difference?

Tablets With Facebook , Twitter


Ofcom defines media stacking as carrying out activities or communicating via other devices while watching TV. These tasks are unrelated to the programme you're watching. They include browsing the web (36%), sending/reading emails (24%) using Facebook and Twitter (22%) and online shopping (16%).

Media meshing is defined as carrying out activities or communicating via other devices in a way that's related to what you're watching on the TV.

The clearest example of this would be tweeting or chatting with a friend on Facebook about a programme you're currently watching. 

How many people tweet while watching TV?

As we explained, tweeting is one of the main examples of second screening. Ofcom revealed that during last year's Wimbledon men's tennis final 1.1 million people across the globe tweeted 2.6 million times using hashtags associated with the tennis final. What's more four fifths of these were tweeted from tablets and smartphones.

Meanwhile our own research found 3 out of 5 Twitter users tweet while watching TV - with TOWIE and Surprise, Surprise proving popular topics for tweets. 

The upcoming summer of football is likely to see many of us second screening a la Wimbledon, commenting on refereeing decisions we don't agree with, praising scintillating strikes and highlighting shocking gaffes. Check out our tablets to get involved. 

Tips for the best second screening and TV viewing experience 

Curry 's PC World Perfect Position To Tweet

With so many people tweeting while watching telly, we thought we'd help people do it right. So we got together with interiors expert Oliver Heath to reveal the perfect position to tweet while watching TV.

Together we came up with the following formula:
Optimum screen size to screen distance + screen type + lighting = second screening delight

Basically it's all about sitting the right distance from your TV, at the correct angle with the right lighting... 

Tips to make sure you're sitting the right distance from your set

When watching TV while second screening on your tablet, you should sit straight on, with your eye level at the centre of the screen. The distance you're sitting from the screen should relate to the size of your TV, whether you're second screening or just watching TV. 

For example if you're watching a 40-inch TV then you should sit 2.5m from the set. The chart below should help you:

Screen Size                    Viewing Distance

Up to 32inch:           Less than 1.5m

32-39inch:               1.5 - 2m

40- 45inch:             1.5m - 2.5m

46-55inch:              2.5 - 3m

Over 56inch:           Over 3m

Also, check out our guide to TV screen size.

Get the lighting right

When it comes to lighting and getting the best from your TV, Heath advises you to "position your TV in a place to prevent natural light reflecting from the screen".

He explains that bright sunlight next to the screen "will create glare which will reduce your viewing quality".

Have somewhere to place your tablet

When second screening 60% of us place our tablet or smartphone on our lap, while 20% place it on the sofa.

However, with a side table or coffee table you prevent having to leave it on the sofa - where someone could sit on it - or having it slide from your lap onto the floor.

The right quality screen

A TV with a high-definition screen will also give you a better experience when watching TV, Heath advises.
He explains: "When watching HDTVs you can watch on a larger screen from a smaller distance compared to a smaller standard screen, as the resolution is better, so you'll be less distracted by the screens pixels.  However bigger TVs, particularly HDTVs, will offer a more immersive experience."

Find out more with our picture quality guide