Way back when high-def television was new, the selling point was the stunningly great picture. Now, with 4K sets, that’s the same pitch.
But in between, there seems to be a great big viewership pool that doesn’t care all that much. Viewers like big screen TV for all of its oversized pixels, but millions will watch on an itty-bitty smartphone or slightly larger cousins.
It seems like a contradiction: Video content has become something we look at so often consumers don’t even care what it looks like.
There is an industry of tech companies that will tell me I’m dead wrong. Getting a video quickly and without stops and stutters is hugely important. But those stunning landscapes that help sell big TV sets are not very relevant overall, past those glitches.
The marvelous nature videos from Sir David Attenborough are tremendously less
marvelous on handheld devices. And so what?
I’m writing all this because of one paragraph from MediaPost’s Marketing Daily story by Aaron Barr explaining that according to the Consumer Technology Association: “The time people spend watching video on television (51%) is about the same as the time they spend watching video on other technology devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones (49%).
"At the same time, consumers are watching more video than before. On average, the amount they watch has increased to 32% since 2001, to about 3.2 hours a day (or 16.8 hours a week).”
I understand the quality of video is all around better, even on smaller devices. But a huge amount of video consumed now is short, and making an posting a video isn’t at all difficult or unique and its makers aren't too concerned with picture quality.
If you’ve seen online video, a lot of it is anything but artful. Even newscasts now arrange Skype interviews that are, by visual and audio standards, miserable. No one cares. It is what it is.
Jawed Karim posted the first YouTube video on April 23, 2005 at the zoo. ”All right, so here we are in front of the elephants,” he said, with the kind of stooped-over apologetic body language you get when you’re documenting yourself doing something unremarkable. What that video started!
People now watch 1 billion hours of YouTube videos a day. Eight years after Karim went to the zoo, the Pew Research Center reported, about three in 10 online adults posted a video to a Web site, and “35% said they did so in hopes that it would be widely viewed or ‘go viral.’ "
It’s not an unreasonable dream. But it’s an odd world in which one content provider will spend $6 billion this year on programs — competing with a bunch of amateurs around the world messing around in their backyards.