The eye magnet

As I sometimes get called ‘Statto’ it is only fitting that I start with a stat.

99% of our time spent looking at AV content on screens at home is spent looking at the screen of a TV set (for digital natives only that figure is 98%). So says a new ethnographic study in the US by Nielsen/CRE. The screens of PCs, laptops, games consoles, mobiles etc. make up the remainder of our home screen time, says the study.

There are obvious reasons behind our preference for the largest of the small screens when it comes to watching TV. Among other things, you don’t have to hold it, squint at it, wear earphones to use it, refresh it, or uncomfortably crowd round it to share the experience. That 99% highlights that it is still a compromise to watch TV on a laptop, PC or mobile, although it is a compromise that will have to be made less often as online TV services arrive on TV sets.

But the main thing about TV sets are that they usually look the best and, with upwards of 40% of UK households owning HD ready sets, more are looking better all the time.

HD is just one of the technologies that have made the TV viewing experience more attractive and have magnetised viewing to the living room. Along with larger screens (growing about an inch a year), surround sound, digital television recorders…recent massive consumer investment in TV equipment has created a higher impact experience.

And so we watch more. The CRE study found that HD increases viewing by more than 5% (especially sports), backing up another US report – from Myers – that found claimed engagement with advertising on HD channels for viewers with HD sets was a whopping 10% higher than for standard definition.

And so to the future. As convergence gathers pace, new viewing developments like HD, Super-HD and 3D are likely to raise the bar in terms of what viewers expect of content formats. In doing so, I think there’s a good chance that they will maintain clear water between the standards of professional ‘TV’ content and the longer tail of niche or user generated video content.

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  • Gordon Macmillan

    Makes perfect sense. Watching TV on your phone/PSP/portable DVD is not much of an experience.