The BBC has released a new tranche of data about the use of its iPlayer services (full report here: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/iplayer/iplayer-performance-oct13.pdf) and whilst the headlines (like this one http://thenextweb.com/uk/2013/12/02/bbc-iplayer-mobile-tablet-use-almost-caught-desktop/) will no doubt focus on the continuing narrative about the death of the PC, there is something far more interesting (not) happening from my perspective. Whilst the consumption of iPlayer content seems to be switching from PCs to touch screen devices at a reasonable pace, the proportion of content consumed on the television set remains stubbornly unchanged. For a year.
When you think about the competition that there is to gain more interactive use of the big screen, that lack of movement I find quite profound. TV set manufacturers are in the game (the cheapest internet-connected TV at Currys now is about £160); so are the the likes of Sky, Virgin and the Freeview venture; not to mention Google TV and Apple TV, NowTV. And the consoles – don’t forget the games consoles.
All of that, it seems, to nowt. Maybe the new generation of consoles will change this, not to mention the aggressive marketing of NowTV, but XBox Live et al have been around for years now and don’t really seem to be making much of a dent in on-demand TV viewing. If you take iPlayer as something of a benchmark for TV streaming services, this should be ringing some bells somewhere.
More and more this leads me to think that (for the time being, and with the notable exception of console games) TVs will continue to be used as a communal device, and interactivity of all forms (whether catch-up TV or companion content and activities to the main event live) will become the domain of the touch screen, personal, device.