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The New Plot Twist in TV Land

Let’s all breathe a huge sigh of relief for fall. Even though the end of summer means no more lazy afternoons at the pool, it does signify one important thing: the end of half-baked TV pilots and re-runs!

This week, the 2013 TV season unofficially starts, and the television landscape is changing faster than the storylines of your favorite shows. Recently, this blog discussed how second screens—computers, tablets, smartphones—are depressing in-game sports attendance.  And to put it bluntly, the same phenomenon is happening with television.

According to a new survey by Nielsen, nearly half of smartphone and tablet owners say they use their devices while watching television. The findings get more complicated from there: some viewers surf the web as a distraction, while others use second screens to relate to the television content. Because every app under the sun is now available—from Candy Crush to IMDB—TV show-runners and networks must adapt to make sure their viewers fall into that second category. The new mantra: keep viewers engaged with second screen media, instead of battling against it.

So, the big question is, how much integration is too much? It’s no secret that TV viewers like to convey their feelings about shows right away, when the impact of a great scene or line of dialogue is still fresh. But is this changed approach to television (read: live twitter feeds and interactive mobile apps to view in tangent with programs) the way to keep viewers engaged in the long-run? Or is it a sign that America’s real favorite past-time could be on the decline?

Let us know your thoughts. After all, our TV geek-dom depends on it.

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