Dual video screening readies for prime time
Deloitte predicts that in 2013, about ten percent of households in developed countries, and about three percent of households in developing countries, will dual video screen their television consumption on a monthly basis. That is, they will have two (or more) screens, most likely of different sizes, showing television programs at the same time and in the same room. These television images may be separate programs or alternate streams of footage for the same event, such as different matches in the same golf tournament.
By the end of 2013, time spent dual video screening could exceed the time spent consuming the combination of a television program and its dedicated program app or website.
The key driver for dual video screening is simple: just one television stream may be insufficient for the person or people in the room. There are likely to be two main reasons for that being the case.
First, there is a desire among household members to spend time together. Watching television is in many homes a principal family activity. However, it is sometimes difficult to agree on what to watch. One solution is to watch two separate programs and that is most easily achieved on two screens.
In 2013, most dual video screening will be based on a combination of traditional TV set and a connected device, most frequently a laptop, but also possibly a tablet (among the minority of individuals who own one) and occasionally a smartphone. One person or more will watch and listen to the main TV, while the other (or others) will watch on the smaller devices and use headphones.
Deloitte’s prediction is that the smaller screen will often be used to watch sport – reflecting who has real control of the remote in the household. Dual video screening enables families to spend time together, without compromising on what to watch – even if those on the smaller screen may not be entirely happy.
Dual video screening in this manner realizes a latent demand that has existed for decades1. Television manufacturers have long offered the ability to watch two television images, through installing two tuners in a TV set and placing a smaller picture in the main image (picture-in-picture). However this presentation of images has had little take-up, as the smaller image has been unsatisfactorily small and the larger image unsatisfactorily compromised by the former, leaving both sets of viewers dissatisfied2. Dual video screening also replicates the work place environment for millions of workers around the world who work with two or more screens on a regular basis.
The growing availability of ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) program and movie demand services has per the law of unintended benefits enabled the ambition of picture-in-picture to be realized, but through the offer of picture-and-picture. Over-the-top is access to premium content via the Internet on any connected device, marketed as enabling subscribers to consume anywhere (known as TV Anywhere or TV Everywhere). As take-up accelerates it is likely to be used to consume content in the same room as the main set-top box. Free-to-air TV broadcasters’ OTT offerings would also facilitate simultaneous consumption of two or more video streams in the same room.
Another reason for dual video screening is to satisfy viewers’ desire to consume more of a particular piece of content. This is likely to be particularly prevalent with sport, in which multiple simultaneous events might have a bearing on the outcome of the principal video stream. A motorsport race, for example, is an edited highlight of as many as dozens of cameras. Traditionally, viewers have only been able to view one image at a time, often the contest for the lead or a leading position. TV coverage of tennis tournaments typically only shows the match the producer believes the majority of viewers want to watch. Yet a motorsports fan may also want to watch the progress of a favored driver and a tennis fan a preferred player.
For major events, viewers may be able to choose between a range of cameras, but selecting which camera to watch may be a little slow and labored. Dual (or multiple) video screening enables the viewer to flick quickly – far faster than would be possible through physically changing channels – from one set of events to another. Deloitte predicts that during major sports events for which multiple streams are available, up to ten percent of households will be using multiple screens in the same room in 2013, with the second (or additional) screen being a connected device or a second television set; for example one brought in from the kitchen.
Multiple video screening of the same content does not mean viewers will necessarily watch more television, although it is likely they may watch the same event for longer. Multi-screening viewers may watch more attentively, in the same way that chatter about a program on social and other networks ratchets up the intensity and buzz associated with consuming a program.
Deloitte expects that dual video screening of the same content in the first half of 2013 will be dominated by combinations of TV sets and smaller connected devices, with the latter often positioned on the viewer’s lap. Thereafter, second TV sets and larger computer monitors may start to predominate and are likely to be positioned adjacent to the main TV set. A key reason for this will be ease of use: it is easier to view two video images by moving the eyes from side to side than to move the head, and changing focus, from nearby on a small screen to a larger screen several meters away.
Looking to the longer term, Deloitte’s prediction is that by 2020 between five to ten percent of homes in developed countries will have a second large TV set in their living rooms, primarily to facilitate secondary video viewing. The second set is unlikely to be used for every program – or indeed even for the majority of programs – but for major sports events, and for when families want to spend time together, and agree to disagree over what to watch. Second TV sets are also likely to be used with households with games consoles to enable multiple-player games play.
A second large TV screen is likely to be better value for money than splitting a very large screen into two side-by-side images: even today the cost of a 42 inch TV screen is less than $400, which is less than ten percent the cost of an 80 inch screen, and about a third of the price of a typical 60 inch screen3. It is worth noting that a 42 inch screen is also cheaper than many ten inch tablet computers, and with 21 times the screen area: per square inch as well as per hour of consumption, television is likely to remain excellent value in 2013 and in the long term. Further, the weight of two 42 inch television sets can be a quarter that of a single 80 inch television set and would be distributed over a larger area with more mounting points. Two screens are also much less likely to require strengthening of the supporting wall.
Over the past decade consumption of TV has risen steadily in many markets, with some currently averaging five hours’ viewing per day, equivalent to more than a quarter of waking hours. The TV set has also become an ever-larger physical presence in the home.
Still, a decade from now some readers may well look back nostalgically on an era when they just had one TV set on the wall; much as some workers, particularly those working with data, may remember a time when they had only a single monitor to analyze.
Broadcasters, who are likely to remain unsure of how best to monetize any form of dual screening, may want to consider video streams, which do not necessarily require the creation of additional content. Existing distribution architectures can also readily cope. Licensing arrangements permitting the viewing of content on any device – agreed for the launch of over-the-top services - have long been in place. The falling cost of principal and ancillary cameras means there will be even more footage to select from. The marginal cost of hiring an additional producer to curate secondary video feeds may be lower than the cost of building an app or website for a program – and is also closer to the average broadcaster’s core skill set.
Dual video screening’s prospects should not be equated with picture-in-picture’s disappointing take-up. Both approaches attempt to serve the same need, but the user experience for picture-and-picture, using current technologies, is far superior to the fundamental compromise of picture-in-picture.
For those who think that having multiple screens in a room is too intrusive, tolerance of TV’s physical impact in the home is remarkably high and is growing; we accommodate what we find valuable4. In Hong Kong, a market characterized by relatively small homes, the fervor for TV-based karaoke systems pre-dated the arrival of flat screens. Karaoke fans were proud of karaoke systems based on large cathode ray tube (CRT) sets that were as deep as screens were wide.
Advertising-funded broadcasters and media agencies should consider the impact that dual or multiple video screening will have on the measurement and impact of advertising.
1 For an analysis of how the multiple streams of TV and Web content were consumed in the UK during the Olympic Games, the BBC has provided in-depth commentary on demands for content for each category content and each device. Deloitte’s view is that much of the consumption of content in peak time would have been based on multiple devices, that is combining TV broadcast (one or more streams), online video and online text. Source: The story of the digital Olympics: streams, browsers, most watched, four screens, BBC, 13 August 2012. See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/08/digital_olympics_reach_stream_stats.html
2 There have also been attempts to provide a single screen solution by using 3D technology. 3D TV signals work by sending alternative left and right eye images. 3D glasses have distinct left and right lens characteristics, which enable the creation of a 3D image in the viewer’s brain. One other use of 3D is to broadcast alternate programs on each frame, with one program shown on one frame, and the other on the subsequent one. One viewer is given a set of glasses with the equivalent of two left lenses; the other gets two right lenses. This enables each viewer to see one program, but not the other. That is the theory; the practice is that the viewer is still able to see a small, but sufficiently distracting, amount of two programs, which means this approach is not yet fully viable.
3 Prices obtained from popular e-commerce sites in a range of countries in December 2012.
4 For data on the rising size of television screens, see: Percentage of TV sets sold, by screen size, Ofcom, 2012: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/cmr12/tv-audio-visual/uk-2.12