Transmedia and linearity, TV and the Internet

Here are some interesting predictions for 2010 made by the Deloitte agency: (Deloitte Media Predictions 2010)

First lesson: the linear consumption of television will remain largely superior to the non linear consumption (20 to 30 hours per week versus 90’ to 2 hours); the on-demand content on the Internet is in fact likely to increase the consumption of direct TV: Transmedia Lab is constantly repeating it! ;-)

Linear’s got legs: the television and radio schedule stays supreme

“But for the mass market, the vast majority of content consumed is likely to be linear. In 2010, average weekly consumption of scheduled television is likely to run between 20 and 30 hours in major markets.1 This compares to an average of 90 minutes to two hours for all forms of nonlinear television, whether in the form of DVDs, DVRs, or video-on-demand. To put the contrast in perspective, US consumption of online full-program video would have to rise over 75-fold just to equal scheduled TV viewing.

Consumption of linear TV may also be encouraged by the availability and demise of on-demand sites. The availability of on-demand can increase overall demand for scheduled programming: content watched using online catch-up services can encourage consumers to watch the next episode or listen to a radio presenter’s next show live. The most popular content viewed online tends also to be the most popular watched via broadcast. And while new online video sites continue to be launched, there may also be a number of high profile failures, largely resulting from the inability to make online advertising-funded video pay.

Further, comparisons of nonlinear to linear are often nonequivalent. Consumption of nonlinear may often appear greater as the numbers reported are larger. But a like-for-like comparison, based on viewing or listening hours, for example, would probably reveal a contrary picture. Broadcast is measured by viewers. Metrics for online video include page impressions, page views, unique users, and requests. Often, little distinction is made between a clip and a full program even though the commercial significance for each may vary considerably. The definition of an online “user” may remain vague, as well as the quantification of an online view.

It may be that in the long run, the majority of all audio and video consumed will be nonlinear. But in 2010, most consumers of content are likely to remain happily beholden to the schedule, rather than resentful of what some pundits have labeled the “tyranny of the schedule.” However, given that hundreds of millions of individuals may be spending at least 40 percent of their waking hours listening to television or radio, linear is likely to remain dominant not just in 2010 but for many years to come.”

Second lesson: it’s not because the majority of people has decided to watch direct television that the audience doesn’t value having a choice, which makes on demand programming initiatives necessary.

“However, the fact that consumers are happy not to choose the majority of their audio and video content does not mean that consumers will not value and pay for the availability of choice. Consumers appear quite content to purchase devices and subscribe to services that they then hardly ever use. For these reasons, initiatives to offer greater choice via non-linear are valuable, as long as monetization is primarily focused on the option to choose.”

Third lesson: the marriage of TV and Internet is due in 2010, thanks, in part, to the new generations of decoders; this union will not only be on the same screen but will also happen by combining the devices already used to access the internet according to the individual’s own initiative.

TV and the Web belong together, but not necessarily on the same screen

“2010 is likely to see progress on all three fronts. Websites are being built specifically for access and control via televisions. Web-based applications being adapted for access through a television set are being marketed as “TV widgets.” Social networks, weather information, and content streaming services are some of the many applications that widgets will make accessible through the TV screen. A growing range of next-generation televisions is being launched not only with integrated broadband connections but with preloaded TV widgets as well.

Next-generation digital video recorders (DVRs) and set top boxes (STBs) will come with standard Internet accessibility.68 Tens of millions of game consoles are Internet ready, even though consumers may not always choose this option.

Despite this progress, we still expect that the most popular approach to converged Web and television consumption will be the rough but ready combination of standard television viewing and consumers’ existing browser-based devices.

The mismatch between the standard ten-year renewal cycle for televisions and strong existing consumer desire for concurrent consumption of Internet- and televisionbased content has contributed to the triumph of the pragmatic approach to date. Most consumers are unlikely to justify a brand-new television just to have additional access to the Web, but they want to combine the Web and TV today. They want to discuss a television program with friends (or strangers), read movie reviews before deciding what to watch, search out gossip on a current show or series, or check sports statistics while the game is under way. And they do not want to wait for devices to catch up.

But a bigger reason why the demand for a truly integrated Internet and television environment may remain limited is that superimposing a Web application on top of a TV image may be as irritating as someone standing in front of the screen. An entire family’s simultaneous social network commentary on the season finale of a reality show may leave little room to see what actually happens. And for some, sharing their personal commentary on a program with fellow viewers may be as appealing as making a romantic phone call in a crowded room.

Fourth lesson: the marriage of TV and Internet will give birth to new form of incredibly more efficient advertizing, allowing at TV spot to connect the consumer directly to the matching website; and also the creation of new programs taking the audience’s involvement to a brand new level, collecting reactions to the program or guiding their information search: that’s what we’re talking about at Transmedia Lab!

Making televisions Internet-enabled, either through the set itself or an adjunct device such as a DVR, is likely to create value. Functionality ranging from catch-up on a big screen to remote software upgrades is also likely to be valued. But superimposing elements of the PC Web experience onto a television screen may prove to be the most commercially successful combination of Web and TV.

One of the major beneficiaries of increased simultaneous usage of the Web and television may be advertising. In 2010, global television advertising is expected to be worth $180 billion, while global online advertising is projected at $63 billion. Commercials viewed on television can direct viewers instantly to websites: it is now possible for a product seen during an advertising break to be purchased before the program resumes. One study found that using online and television together resulted in 47 percent more positivity about a brand than using either in isolation72.

As simultaneous Web and television use becomes more popular, television producers should create websites that not only support programming, but also feed off viewers’ eagerness to react to what they are watching. Viewers can be directed to associated websites rather than surfing blindly looking for relevant information. Tie-in websites should be created for a range of devices (such as an MP4 player, netbook or smartphone), not just a PC. Talent shows, for example, may offer the chance to rate participants and their judges as well as guess that week’s contest results.

To summarize, everything’s moving but nothing’s changing.

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