The power of the second screen [infographic]

You find yourself on the couch after a long day at work. You have your favorite show on TV and your phone planted firmly in your hand, catching up on Instagram. One ear is listening to SportsCenter highlights while the other is hearing the latest viral baby goat scream on Vine.

Sounds familiar, right? For nearly 50 million Americans, this second-screen experience is second nature. But is this behavior a boon or a bust for broadcasters?

According to Google, the second-screen experience is quickly becoming the preferred method of extending television consumption beyond broadcast time slots. In a recent study, relevant Google and YouTube searches strongly correlated to three-day viewing behavior. And in 2013, YouTube’s TV-related watch time increased a whopping 65% year over year. Combine this with the fact that 90% of TV viewers use Google or YouTube to make television-related searches, and the second screen becomes a formidable force to be reckoned with.

These stats have some broadcasters worried. With attention being divided between TV and second screens, how can networks be sure their content is reaching viewers? In reality, not only is content reaching audiences, but this viewing experience is extending into the digital world at an astonishing rate.

In 2013, for every piece of content uploaded to a network’s YouTube channel, a staggering seven pieces of user-generated content were created. (HBO’s Game of Thrones saw a mind-boggling ratio of 82 to 1!) Moreover, networks with strong YouTube followings saw their YouTube subscribers watch 52% more content than nonsubscribers.

Second screens also benefit broadcasters in the larger context of the content consumption life cycle. Not only do second screens enhance the viewing experience during broadcast (as was the case with AMC’s Breaking Bad), they also enable tremendous media consumption straight from the palms of viewers’ hands, everywhere they go.

The short story: don’t fear the second screen.