The way that we consume media has changed dramatically over the last decade. For me, the first real change that proved that there were other commercially viable ways of distributing media other than by cathode ray tubes was BBC iPlayer.
Developed by the people from the murky world of peer to peer software Kazaa, BBC iplayer has a winning combination of quality content and an easy to use interface. Making watching television accessible for all on a computer for the first time. Since it was first introduced, iPlayer has become a medium unrivalled by other commercial stations. Surely the end of the television?
Creatures of Habit
There were worries that the introduction of online content would lead to the death of the television. Sure I have a Sky plus box at home that I regularly use, but I don’t exclusively watch it. You would have thought that the old format of tuning into a programme that you wanted to watch at a specific time would have become an archaic and laughable activity in the age where I can sync my media content wirelessly over the internet. But traditional mainstream television has continued to dominate our leisure time.
Do you ever catch yourself watching something on television that you own on DVD or Blu-ray? Or how about searching through the channels looking for something to watch?
There is a sense that when you are watching live television there is some connection to others. Live television remains the most up to date place to get new content, bar a few series like “Skins” who offer entire preview episodes available online first before television broadcast.
Television is Getting More Social
One addition that I have noticed getting more prevalent in recent months is the link between live (or the first airing of a pre-recorded show) and Twitter. To me it seems alien that there is no connection between a hash tag comment displayed on television and the internet; no interface to click and be connected. Yet we still manually enter the text into our iPads and laptops, as the urge to participate in the social discussion is so strong.
There isn’t as yet the technology available to the masses that allows for social interaction between a viewer and Twitter tags directly through an internet connected television, but this is something I predict will change incredibly rapidly.
Like watching a programme with other people physically in the same room, there is a human instinct to share a human reaction to events shown on the television.
This social interaction adds to the whole experience of watching TV. Social activity is an incredibly sought after element of marketing, I wouldn’t be surprised if ratings were changed to encompass the amount of interactions through social networks online in the near future.
A Marketers Dream
Direct information is available in real time over the whole time spectrum of a show. From low level interest and speculation at the announcement of the show and the release of the previews and adverts produced by the TV advertisement production agency, to feedback whilst the show is being broadcast, and then reactionary discussions both from the general public, industry professionals and commercial reviews.
All incredibly valuable to the television network, and all unavailable only a short time ago.
Television is not the box in your living room. Television encompasses an entire ecosystem of content creation and consumption. Live television can influence us far more effectively than if we are left to choose specific content to consume at specific time.
We rely on television networks to deliver programming of a high quality so that we don’t have to source it ourselves. This is not the same strand of consumerism that implies that we are being sold everything at every second of the day. This time we have social media – we can talk back.