I’m not one who is content to just watch a movie or TV episode. I want to know more about it as I watch. There are many like me, and app makers have addressed this need with what are known as Second Screen apps.
These are apps for our phone designed to give us more information about the program we are watching and even interact with others watching it at the same time, if it is a broadcast or live program.
If I walk into the room and my wife has a program on I do not recognize, I use the Shazam app. It listens to the audio of a piece of programming and tells me the name of the movie or show, even the specific episode of a TV show.
Then I go to IMDB’s app, or IMDB.com and look up the program. I can look up when the film was made and who the performers are. I often will see an actor in one thing, and know I’ve seen them before. It bugs me to not figure it out, so IMDB saves my sanity.
IMDB also has trivia about the production or the actor, and these are always entertaining. For example, Michael Bay destroyed 535 cars for one of the Transformers movies.
Reading the trivia for the film “Unstoppable,” I found out parts of the train scenes were filmed in the tiny northern Pennsylvania town where I was born. There was even a scene in the restaurant I worked in as a teen near Pittsburgh.
I also learned Carrie Fisher stood on a box for her scenes with Harrison Ford in “Star Wars.” She’s that much shorter than he.
Wikipedia also has articles on most movies and episodes. While it may have a lot of the same information as IMDB, it often has more. For huge, long-running shows like “Doctor Who,” it has probably hundreds of articles on episodes, seasons, characters and actors.
To find something watchable on a broadcast or cable channel is a daunting task from the sheer number of channels. The TV Guide app will show you what is on all your channels. Better yet, you can build a Favorite list so you only see the channels you enjoy. It’ll also show you when your favorite movies or shows are on or what sport events are being televised.
You’ve probably noticed many programs show a hashtag at the beginning of programs. They want to encourage you to interact with other viewers on Twitter by using the hashtag.
With the hundreds of channels now available, we have lost the sense of community TV once had when there were only three channels. Everyone would talk about last night’s “Ed Sullivan Show” around the office water cooler on Monday. Now in a gathering of five TV viewers around a water cooler, they probably watched five different programs, many from non-broadcast sources like Netflix or YouTube.
Twitter and hashtags have brought some of that back, letting viewers discuss a show while it is ongoing. I understand there is an active discussion going on during programs. “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Supernatural” and “The Walking Dead” average hundreds of thousands of tweets during an episode.
You might even interact with the star on Twitter. Much to my amazement, William Shatner retweeted a Tweet I made the other day. I felt oddly honored.
For discussion afterward, most shows have a Facebook page you can Like and participate in discussions. And Reddit has sub-reddits for most popular programs.
And as we come up on the Super Bowl, it looks like again this year you will be able to watch most of the ads from the show online beforehand. As we know from years past, Super Bowl ads are often better than the game and rank as the most surprising, funniest and best produced 30 seconds of television.