Has The Two-Screen Experience Crushed The Future Of Digital TV?

Will the two-screen experience crush the future of digital television?

I heard this question posed earlier last week, and it's possible the idea has merit.  It's taken a while for digital TV to really come of age, and in that time Apple launched the wildly successful iPad and created the tablet market.   Consumers have flocked to the idea of watching television either with or on the iPad, and in doing so they have circumvented the need for a more interactive digital television experience.  This doesn't mean that digital TV -- or TV in any form, for that matter -- is not still important.  It just means that the bells and whistles of an interactive digital experience on your cable box may not be as necessary or desirable in the eyes of the consumer.

Consumers watch TV a lot.  That's not going to change, but in recent years we've seen more instances of consumers watching TV with a laptop or tablet in front of them, effectively multitasking.   We also see more consumers watching their favorite shows online, detracting from the cable box itself, and creating a more seamless interactive experience on their Internet-connected devices.  Lots of TV manufacturers are working apps into the TV experience, but after the initial wave of excitement, I haven't seen much additional consumer interest. 

Social media is what consumers are using while watching TV, and that experience is better on a tablet, laptop or smartphone.  It's not an experience consumers are shifting to on a TV, and I don't know that they ever will.   

TV gets expensive very quickly because the cable companies nickel and dime you for every possible addition.  When I moved recently, it took many hours to set up cable service at my new home -- and that was before I even got my cable operator on the phone.  The permutations of services are endless, so just imagine what it will be like when they offer fully integrated digital services?  I can imagine a world with messaging fees attached to my TV, but I don't think consumers are going to be willing to pay for additional services when they already have them on a different device.  It just doesn't make sense.

If consumers are watching TV on their computers and tablets, then digital TV (in the industry sense of the term) just isn't necessary.  There will be a portion of the audience that simply doesn't want it, and they are more than happy watching TV and toggling between shows and social media.  That experience is all they need.

Digital television has been promised for 15 years now, and it's starting to feel a little like mobile: always 2-3 years away from being viable.  As with mobile, it relies on consumer adoption, penetration of the devices, and the integration of the platforms into regular programming that engages the consumer and makes the experience interesting!  It's very possible that digital TV may have missed the boat.  What do you think?  Is there a future here, or has the future already passed by?

Let me know on the Spin Board!

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7 comments about "Has The Two-Screen Experience Crushed The Future Of Digital TV? ".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , August 24, 2011 at 11:04 a.m.

    The never ending cacophony of cacophony...

  2. Mark Aitken from Sinclair Broadcast Group , August 24, 2011 at 11:14 a.m.

    Regards Mobile DTV, the 'problem' lies squarely in the hands of the Networks. Television Broadcasters could quite literally tomorrow be 'doing' mobile. The Networks say 'no you can't, not without me in the middle. Conditional Access (scrambling) and content verticals that drive Network revenues and do nothing for the affiliate (the local Broadcaster). Now, it is fine for the consumer to buy a 'Slingbox', and fling his home content back over the air (and further choke up the capacity of mobile phone operators) or stream to other internet devices, but we (the local Broadcast affiliates) have no rights to stream over-the-air Mobile DTV. The technology is here (has been for a couple of years), I know because I literally led the effort within ATSC.

    Hands are tied. If it were up to me (and our group of television stations) we would do it tomorrow. If everyone 'voted' (to pick up on a AGT phrase) with calls, letters, emails, tweets and FB posts to the Networks...yeah, right!!!

  3. Steven Threndyle from media tent , August 24, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.

    Let's look at the future a wee bit, here (unscientifically, my son and daughter). Who watch very, very little TV and when they do - even though we have a 37in HD LCD TV, they are watching the non HD channels! They don't care about picture quality; in the same way that they're not discerning about audio quality through tinny speakers. And they are texting (always texting) or using their smartphone Facebook app. CONNECTIVITY - always on - is the key, there. Is for me, too (in office TV, tuned to news or business networks; sometimes sports, never drama or reality TV). Any others with this experience?

  4. Rick Lavoie from RUCKUS , August 24, 2011 at 11:39 a.m.

    I agree with you, I think its past us by. Like mobile. It's not going to happen like we think it will. Hardware and software will be evolving into something that isn't even invented yet which solves the problems better than how its being solved today.

  5. Richard Reisman from Teleshuttle Corporation , August 24, 2011 at 11:44 a.m.

    I suggest the Two-Screen Experience Is The Future Of Digital TV! There will always be a central place for the big screen, and the second screen will serve as the companion that makes it even more desirable. iPad EPG's and Media Concierge services are one part of it. Social TV is another. Services like IntoNow and TVplus are showing that 2-screen interactivity can be done in spite of the incumbents (but can be better when they help, as Lauren Bacall once said). My recent posts on Social TV and and other companion apps, and EBIF, etc. at http://ucm.teleshuttle.com/search/label/Coactive%20TV explain this further.

  6. Zachary Weiner from CTV Advertising , August 24, 2011 at 12:44 p.m.

    I liked this article, but thinks it leaves the door open more so for digital/interactive TV. The marketplace is actually growing with the penetration of Connected TV sets hitting the market. (500Mil by 2015) and apps hitting the market.

    One has to keep in mind that the television experience is multifaceted. Tablets make for excellent on-the-go utility, but lack their place in the living room, lack their ability to watch with friends, and lack the ten foot experience.

    This doesn't mean however that consumers won't want to watch all of the new (and old) content that comes into play (online video, VOD, non-linear content) from the big screen experience that they can't get with say a tablet. Those online shows they love to watch now on PCs and tablets, on connected TV can be viewed in the living room, while eating a pizza. While with a significant other or group of friends. After a long day of work lying on the couch..etc..

    Enter content apps, where users can get simple new channels on the big screen. Enter the Hulu experience, on the big screen.

    Enter Apps, that allow the big screen experience to become interactive with a lean back method. Easy interactivity that allows content to be watched simply or intensive interaction like online games or the combination of gaming with live content. Polling, voting, playing, integrating, exploring...etc...

    Content that is integrated and interactive, Content that can't be found with traditional linear models, the ability for flexibility, the ability for large screen viewing of online video, the ability to play with, explore and socialize this content, without having to download or utilize a second device. Ease of use...

    At the end of the day, it's all about ease and flexibility along with providing new experiences. Providing those experiences on one device, and one device that is easiest viewed with a large screen.

  7. David Levy from socialvibe , September 8, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.

    Great article Corey. We were just debating this exact issue in response to a mediapost article stating that a large portion of folks btw 18-34 would rather use their phone or other connected device to change channels and whether that suggested consumers would rather use a fully interactive connected TV or would a second screen suffice.

    Very interesting where this will go. My personal interest is what this will mean for advertising and will we be able to get a more efficient model associated with TV given the ability to have a more engaging experience.