Thursday, March 03, 2005

Do couch potatoes really want to interact with their TVs?

That is the question Phillip Swann asks in his "Unconventional Analysis of TV Technology." But is that the important question? I suggest being a bit more unconventional. Users do not want to interact with their TVs. But sometimes they want to interact with content that relates to what is on their TVs (and sometimes they want to do that interaction using their TVs).

The important question is: Do they want to interact while watching their TVs?

It is increasingly clear that they do. "The number of minutes adults spend simultaneously surfing the Web and watching TV has increased a dramatic 72 percent, from an average of 174 minutes per week in 2001 to 300 minutes per week in 2004, according to the latest 'Media in Mind' survey by Universal McCann." (1/28/05 Clickz article).

What few in the industry are willing to accept is that a TV is a pretty lame device to interact with. But the numbers show users are very happy to interact with their PCs while watching TV.

Most of that interaction is unrelated to what they are watching on TV, but a significant portion is related, even though they have to create that relationship the hard way. I suggest far more interaction would be TV-related if that were made easier.

So the real question is when will services make it easy to interact while watching TV. CoTV, "coactive TV" is a simple application of technology to facilitate that. More and more people are beating around that bush.

The TV industry does not want to think about that. But the Web industry is just one or two steps away.

All that is needed is for one Web service to decide to support that pent up demand. I have been talking to key people at several major Web portals. They are not quite there yet, but they are getting closer...

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