Reactive posts are typically not my cup of tea, but sometimes a necessity to convey specific and necessary points of view. This one is going to be brief and I am going to keep it simple, but it needs to be stated and understood in it‘s larger implications.
There is a rather pervasive thought being thrown around about the nature of television with consideration on the growing death of group watching behaviors. I wanted to clarify an important contrarian view to this current and in my opinion, ill advised philosophy. Most recently Virgin made some claims in the Telegraph article here.
To put forth the proposition that group watching behavior will die is nearly absurd. More so than being absurd it's incredibly short sighted.Let me give credit where credit is due.Can we suddenly watch TV content on smaller and more personal screens anywhere around the house we'd like? Yes. Of course. Can we suddenly receive more personalized viewing experiences with less scarcity and more choice? Yes, we can. Can we time shift any programming and watch when we please? Yup. There are some aspects of group watching behavior that have indeed strongly changed.
Now, will we stop craving the visceral experiences of the big screen and even more so, the group watching socialization that accompanies it? Absolutely not. If anything, on the horizon is the next great iteration of television group interaction. There will be incredible new experiences (At CTV Advertising we're working on "Blendable reality" even now) to actually create more engagement and turn TV watching, into entertainment immersion. Yes, that’s right, novel ways to bring groups around the TV (and other devices) .
In the near future we are going to see interactive group gaming and watching taken to a whole new level. A merge that allows people to gather and partake in stimulating content that involves multiple parties and can expand outside the home and back in. A range of new experiences and an evolution, but certainly not a death.A new phoenix rising.
I can talk about this all day long, but lets break down two very simple facts, just so we can say we did.
1) We don't need an Aristotle quote to tell us that humans are social animals.
We are. According to our societal, evolutionary and genetic makeup we will always be social animals, and will always seek out social experiences that serve to engage all five senses. This means we will always seek to be around other people. This is why the real world supersedes the digital in terms of experience it can offer. Five senses. No matter how robust our social networking can become, it will never replace family dinners, meeting friends for drinks or going surfing (for this guy at least) with buddies. Online/Offline will always be two differing needs that can play very well together. In basics, give people a good call to action to gather around a screen TOGETHER, with a great UX and they will.
2) Our digital world is always moving in the direction of becoming more integrated with our real world social tendencies. Not isolated or away from them!
All of our digital social technology is in a constant move towards deep integration into our group and real world experiences. Once online social media was the domain of the personal computer and only at home. Not anymore. We live tweet on location with our family at concerts. We check into foursquare restaurants with our friends. We Youtube our children right at Disney. We Link-in right at conferences and we check into shows with friends. We are as a whole, more social in person because of online social media.
Viewing TV entertainment is the exact same. While the sudden ability to watch TV on both a big screen as well as anywhere on little screens might seem to make it a more personal experience, in reality all it does is give it a deeper ability to become a true group activity as well.
If anything I believe television will turn into more of a entertainment grouping of devices that can be as lean back or lean forward as one chooses. Like I often speak of, we will have unbelievable group experiences based on video content, gaming, and location both in and out of the home that can merge together. Groups will have a reason to actually get together and watch/interact/play/socialize with the device as a group, but also with a larger digital social circle as well.
While we may be becoming more like cyborgs by the day carting our digital appendages with us everywhere, we are not becoming Cyborg "hermits". Digital experiences become integrated more deeply with traditional experiences as technology marches on, it does not create greater separation! It creates more group behaviors. And TV- will be no different.
Zachary Weiner is the CEO of CTV Advertising, the leading future television marketing organization. He is the Co-Founder of the Connected TV Marketing Association. @itvadvertising or contact via linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=30903