Recently I spent the weekend in Pittsburgh visiting my friends Melanie and Jim. When we weren’t hopping around bars and restaurants, we kicked it back at their apartment in front of the TV.
Of course the three of us didn’t just sit there staring at the TV- we had our laptops out. Three pairs of eyeballs, four screens. More if you count our cell phones and iPods.
Television used to be a dedicated block of time. An appointment you wouldn’t miss every week. Now DVRs have turned TV into entertainment that is consumed on the viewer’s terms and is no longer the sole center of attention. The television is no longer the only screen in the living room. Laptops, tablets, and cell phones are moving in for a piece of the pie.
The Third Screen concept isn’t anything new. As video on computers became mainstream people looked to mobile phones as the next frontier for video content and I believe we are close, if not already there. However I also believe the Third Screen can be used to describe the evolving experience of watching television. If we demand multiple computer monitors, tabbed browsers, and stacked columns for our tweets; why wouldn’t we sit down on the couch with a laptop/tablet in hand and a cell phone within reach?
We surround ourselves with so many screens because we want to be close to information, we want to be able to cross reference as we are watching a show or a film. We want to be able to IMDB that supporting actor as we see him or fact check a date or location.
Multiple screens also gives us the ability to share experiences with others. We chat online with others while watching a sporting event and broadcast our instant reactions on Twitter.
Watching television has joined exercising, using an elevator, and even walking under activities that can be done with multiple screens. Nothing is sacred anymore when it comes to earning our undivided attention.
Except perhaps the cinema.