1. Computing

More Watching + Less TV = ?

By May 19, 2012

The phrase "watching TV" can no longer be taken literally, according to a study released this week by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The findings published in The Evolving Video Landscape show a US viewership that's becoming increasingly indifferent to which devices they watch their "television" on.  While HDTVs are still the preferred medium for video content, more than half the consumers surveyed use a laptop or desktop computer for their "TV" viewing.  Another one third reported watching video on their smartphone, and 17% of the viewers surveyed watch video on a tablet.

Blown away by small TV
None of this is surprising news, particularly for the connected generation.  According to Shawn DuBravac, CEA's chief economist and director of research. "Younger consumers accustomed to multitasking are defining new video behaviors as they watch video content across multiple platforms, on their own schedule, all while interacting socially on their devices with their friends."

In other words, the traditional TV is losing its place as a focal point for video entertainment. Could TV one day go the way of the stereo?  These days, the traditional stereo system is practically a Trivial Pursuit answer, replaced by iPods, smartphones and other devices.

The answer is no of course...there will always be big screen TV displays and people will always want them, especially as they get bigger, better and cheaper.  The irony to the comparison is that TVs are now replacing stereos themselves.  One third of the respondents reported using their TV to listen to music; that number jumps to nearly 50% when you're talking about younger people.

Another irony is that the report shows people are watching more "TV" than ever. More than a third of respondents said they watched more this year than last year, and 28% of what they watched were "TV shows."

How will video content change to accommodate a market that demands "multi-platform" entertainment?  Count on programming that takes screen size into account as its being created.  You'll see more close-ups and fewer wide angle shots.  Sports camera work will focus on players and plays, rather than the full game.  Movies will be shot with simpler backgrounds and fewer visual details -- the mise en scene will basically be stripped down.

All of which will look fine on your new tablet.  But what's all that phone-friendly video going to look like on your new TV?  And how badly will you want a bigger or better TV to play back content that's been designed to be watched on a small screen?

We'll find out soon.

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