In 2015, will our furniture still point towards a TV?

This week I’ve had some downtime, and a large part of it consisted of watching this video with my 2 year old nephew:

On repeat. It wasn’t my choice, it was his. Armed with an iPad, he opened YouTube, said ‘bus, bus!’, which prompted me to type in ‘wheels on the bus’ and then he was presented with an option of 10 different videos of the same song to watch. Did you know that in the UK we say ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round, all day long‘ whereas in the US they say ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town‘. Who knew?

Anyway, I then spent some time catching up with Social Media Week, and came across Tom Messett’s blog on ‘is it time to unfollow everything?‘ On clicking through to the video stream of the panel talk on ‘The Battle for Attention‘, my attention was caught by Tom arguing that the days of the TV being the hub of the living room  are numbered.

It’s an ongoing debate, with many predicting a refresh of Apple TV to be the birth of truly connected televisions. To explore further, I thought I’d ask myself – in 3 years time, will our furniture still point towards a TV, or will the Internet take over and allow us full control over the video we consume?

Don’t start rearranging the furniture just yet

Rory Cellan-Jones’ piece on the future of TV and the web raises a number of salient points on how we consume TV. The most valid in my opinion, is that watching TV is a ‘lean back’ experience. ‘The box’ provides us with a vehicle to unwind, indeed for many it is a form of escapism. In the same way that consumers ‘lean back’ when it comes to brands (i.e. don’t engage with them directly using social media), people look to TV as a way to relinquish control and allow a broadcaster to feed them entertainment that allows them to escape. Current consumer behaviour regarding TVs is that we don’t want control over what we watch. We want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

In simpler terms: how many times how you reverted to watching a Friends repeat on Comedy Central as opposed to hunting for a new documentary?

It’s time to start researching feng shui

On the other hand, we are seeing that consumers want  more control in other areas of their lives, from Customer Relationship Management to news consumption. We consume other types of media in many different ways now and some argue it is time for the consumer to take control away from the broadcaster. In much the same way that Twitter has changed the news game, channels such as BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Facebook are changing the TV game. TV viewers, although in a ‘lean back’ state-of-mind, are no longer at the mercy of broadcast schedules. Instead, one can record, live pause and fast forward as often or as little as possible to improve their TV viewing experience. Indeed, this new level of control suggests that we won’t have a central box (or flat screen) in the home, we will have multiple screens that allow us to consume video as and when required.

In simpler terms: when was the last time you watched Top Gear at 8pm on a Sunday night on a TV on BBC Two?

In my opinion, the TV will still have a role in the home and our furniture will still point towards one in 2015. I wouldn’t go as far as Kazuo Hirai, Deputy President at Sony who argues ‘the large screen TV still reigns supreme in the centre of the living room’. Yes, the TV plays a role, but there are smaller screens that are at the forefront of changing our video consumption habits.

We will see a behavioural change in having (and wanting) the power to watch what we want, when we want, and how we want – in effect less leaning back, and more sitting up. If I look at how the younger generation is working (my nephew, for example), we are becoming accustomed to holding video, touching to pause and find the next video. Handheld devices will become increasingly interlinked with the traditional large screen TV, which will be there when we consume video that allows us to unwind such as feature films, sitcoms and longer documentaries. In these instances, the larger screen will enhance the viewing experience and allow us to choose what we want to ‘lean back’ to.

In simpler terms: keep your furniture where it is…for now.

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