two seemingly contradicting reports landed this week which paint very different pictures of the state of play in the evolving world of screen usage and content watching. they both came via Stew … thanks Stew!
first up, the BBC reports the suggestion by Ofcom (the UK’s Communications regulator) that living room TV is “making a comeback”. if a 3% increase in the number of adults who watch their main TV set once a week (91% up from 88% in 2002) represents a comeback, then yes … its a comeback. well done, nice work, props etc.
also this week Omnicom’s (or Publicis Omnicom Groupe’s I suppose) Media Pulse reported a study by GFK which “suggests that millions are moving to the Internet and free over-the-air (OTA) reception … about six percent of U.S. households have completely dropped cable and satellite TV in favor of streaming-only—a trend that’s been named ‘cutting the cord'” (Source).
a new golden age of broadcast, or a digital multi-screen take-over?
its no secret that screens are proliferating, Australia is at the vanguard of the changes. an Australian Multi-Screen Report from earlier this year from Oztam, Regional Tam and Nielsen indicated that 27% of Aussie homes now have each of the four screens (TV, PC, tablet and mobile phone), up from 16% last year. Smart phone uptake is up 13% YOY to 61%, tablet penetration doubled 2012-2013 to 31% and PVR penetration now sits above 50%.
despite all that though, the same report calculated that time spent with screens are still massively weighted towards TV. the average Aussie watches 92 hours and 29 mins of TV per month, versus 8 hours and 53 mins on the other three devices. TV’s comeback is perhaps overplayed because there’s nothing to come back from … time spent with TV, despite pretty much a decade of PVRability, has remained pretty much consistent.
so what gives? … lots of TV viewing, lots of increase in penetration of new devices, and a whole lot of multitasking and multi-screening. the real limiting factor in the entire equation is nothing to do with screens or even what’s on them … its human attention. it was Kevin Kelly who observed in Wired magazine that “the only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention” (source) … it doesn’t take a huge leap to come to the conclusion that the real victim of screen and content abundance will be not brands per se, but those that rely solely on the broadcast interruption advertising model.
more of that on the PHDcast this week, but what all of this points to is the need for connection planning (on screens and beyond) to be done upstream in any brand planning work. integrated content solutions have to quickly become the modus operandi for how we develop communications. broadcast interruption will remain part of that integrated solution for a long time yet to come, but it can no longer be the totality of the solution.
which is why we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the future.
I’ll leave you to ponder that, and the thought that, far from living room TV making a comeback, its advertising that needs to make the comeback. in the evolving world of screens, only one screen rules them all – whichever one you happen to be watching at any given time. there’s a clear and present opportunity to bridge attention deficit with a new generation of integrated, connected, device-specific content. it’s time for us all to step up to the plate.
featured image via Fast Company