Tablets Give Everyone an Opportunity to Involve, Be Involved
“She’s been here fifteen minutes and she can launch a Russian satellite with the gear she’s got.” – Cal McAffrey, “State of Play,” Universal Pictures, 2009
The TV industry has been having a tough time figuring out what tomorrow is going to look like … and how they’ll play in it. Cable folks are holding them hostage (if you read the announcements, you can’t figure out who is dropping whom). Amazon, Google, Netflix, AOL and Yahoo all have channels and big advertisers have their channels. Folks are watching the content on their smart TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets. A lot of the time folks have two or three of the screens going at the same time. As Cameron Lynn said sarcastically, “Well, that’s a shame isn’t it.” So the industry is stretching itself to reach the new breed of anywhere, anytime viewer on every platform.
The trick is to make it as easy and painless as possible because … entertainment time is down time. The TV folks want sell all those delightfully expensive and very LOUD 30-sec spots and keep as much of the money as possible. They’re mesmerized by all the reports that say folks are relying more and more on the mobile screen of choice than that big 55-in screen in the room. The connected sets sorta’ started it but the tablet was the real game changer. Folks bought the tablet for all of the added work they could get done on-the-go; but don’t kid yourself, it’s the entertainment.
Ocean of Screens – While just a few of the tablets dominate the global market, that hasn’t stopped anyone with an ounce of engineering ability, test stand and a big or back alley manufacturing operation from introducing the next second screen. Increasingly, they’re coming in a broader range of screen sizes from 5 – 24 inches to meet your taste, preference, eyesight. Sure, the way people are watching their entertainment is changing, but don’t underestimate how lazy most people are, especially after a sucky day at the office. A whole bunch of folks simply want to sit down at a specific time and count on something just happening for them. Speaking for the sit-n-view folks, Cal McAffrey commented, “I’m overfed, I’m too expensive and I take way too long.” That’s why the industry is so interested in the new wave of viewers who are highly interactive.
Beyond the View – The tablet, social media sites and a growing number of apps have taken TV viewing from a passive activity to one that is highly interactive. InMobi estimates that 62 percent of today’s mobile web users carry on multi-screen activities while watching shows. Research from Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs suggests that people watch about 4.8 hours of video a day today and that’s going to increase to seven hours of video by 2020. The increase will come not from broadcast but on-demand viewing (70 percent of viewing compared to 33 percent today). That’s placing a lot of pressure on service providers and content delivery networks (CDNs) to ensure there is sufficient bandwidth to handle the demand at the network’s edge (smartphone, tablet, TV). Detective Bell drew the line with, “Whatever you’re sellin’, I ain’t buyin’.”
Sit, View, Sleep
Unicasting is rapidly fading because the new viewer is more active, more involved. They choose their own content, create and mash up their own content and comment about content.
Content Choices – People no longer want to be “programmed” by TV networks and stations on what they want and when. The growing number of online video content delivery services offer viewers an array of entertainment options on their TV, tablet and smartphone. The tablet is one of the neatest anywhere viewing devices (so far); but most of the time, folks use them at home–75 percent according to most industry analysts. Nine in 10 use the device in the living room, bedroom or other room.
Go Home – Tablets are an ideal go-anywhere viewing/communications device, but most of the entertainment enjoyment is done around the home. Since most of the devices are WiFi only, individuals can enjoy content in any room of the house. In our house, I’m the only one who doesn’t sit down in front of the TV with my tablet to play games, watch videos/movies/TV. Nope, my smartphone is with me to check messages, email. When travelling, my tablet is loaded with books, articles I’ve been going to read but most of the airport/airplane time is filled with watching shows I wanted to catch up on, movies or playing mindless games (keeps the guy next to me from bragging about his latest business or personal conquest). While in front of the TV set, the wife uses her tablet to read stuff, research products she’s seen on TV and plan out my weekend household chores. The kids are like their peers, all over the video map.
Rich Array of Choices – The online video options for tablet users today stretches far beyond just selecting TV shows to an almost limitless range of viewing opportunities including new and old acts and events on YouTube as well as how-to videos on content delivery sites. Content producers and advertisers are only just scratching the surface of the potential of seamlessly tying the TV screen and the second screen with exciting new apps to really engage with the content.
Involvement is Beginning
TV ads are already being produced that will sync with your mobile device, display ecommerce options and encourage the viewer to take immediate action (buy the stuff). Our son stumbled on what I think is the neatest blurring of the lines and immersion, a show/game called Defiance. Anything that happens in the show affects the game and anything he does in the game affects the show’s plot … really cool!
View, Play, Change – Defiance is just one of a growing number of TV shows/video games that blur the lines of your content and how you enjoy it. Program/content developers are also working to deliver alternate show endings and interactive ad feedback for rewards and more. Everyone – including viewers – is pushing the boundaries. The idea of gasifying ads isn’t new but this is one of the first commercial ventures we’ve seen that takes interactivity and immersion to a totally new level. Has to be good because it even drew me in! Our daughter was more excited to learn that she could actually influence and impact the shows she watches-documented by a recent Nielsen report.
Symbiotic Relationship – Researchers are seeing a strong relationship between how TV shows and their ratings can affect Twitter volume and content as well as how Twitter volume can affect TV ratings.
Nielsen found that live TV ratings impacted the Tweet volume and the volume of Tweets had a very real impact on the show’s TV ratings.
Cause and Effect
The media industry and advertisers already spend a lot on social media outreach to attract viewers/customers, but the Twitter monitor can either provide validation that the show really draws people in or gives them heartburn. Of course, for advertisers, it tells them instantly whether the content around their ads was a good investment as well as whether or not the ad clicked (excuse the pun) or not. Tablets are more than just another screen to watch content; they are becoming valuable tools for people to multitask in a positive – and snarky – way to voice their approval, interest, concern and irritation/disappointment. Folks are increasingly speaking out.As Cal McAffrey said, “I hear our online site is doing great.”
TV Activity – While many people are perfectly happy sitting passively watching a TV show or event, they keep their tablet going by posting comments and obtaining more information on the show, actors and products. I don’t think it’s that people are watching more TV, but that they’re doing more with and about what they’re watching. And this will certainly give content developers more ammunition to raise/lower the intelligence quotient of shows and validate their charges for ads. Of course, that also means the marketer will have a real-time view of which ads work and what content is best to wrap around their ads. As for the cable guy, he’ll probably have to settle for the passive guy/gal who falls in front of the set and still gets counted as a live set of eyeballs. It will give all three of them – content developer/marketer/cable guy- something to discuss in their next meeting.When it comes to entertaining/educating the consumer, they’ll all silently agree with Cameron Lynne, “Those are the ideas for our facelift. I know, I know… it’s crap! Our new owners have this odd idea that we ought to be turning a profit.” The more involved you become, the more interested they become in … you!