About a year and a half ago I wrote about the competitive battleground that was the living room. Eighteen months later I feel I might have been missing the point; by the look of the numbers from Ofcom’s Communications Market report this year, the battle for the living room has been won, by TV content.
Whilst there has been much made of manufacturers trying to take control over the big screen in the living room, whether through integrated “smart” TV, specialist adapter (Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast and so on), set top box (Sky Plus, YouView, Tivo etc) or games console, it’s missed a point that’s been nagging away at me. TV, and the TV screen, is a communal experience. Video games are the exception that proves the rule that with communal content, interactivity is neither particularly wanted nor creatively interesting nor practical. You know what it’s like when someone’s hogging the remote control? Multiply that infinitely.
But that’s not to say that there isn’t interactivity happening in the living room – it’s just it’s happening through the personal channels of smartphone and tablet, not on the big screen itself.
What does this mean? Well, I’d be surprised if any of the TV add-on devices take off any time soon. And the long term decline of the computer games console industry (itself leaching user time to tablets and phones) doesn’t look likely to me to be saved by other forms of interactivity. But it’s also good news in the short term to companies like Shazam who are offering services that allow mobile interactivity to sync to broadcast TV content.