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