A Tale of Two Screens

In 1956 a new kind of technology was invented in Latin America. The telly-box. It was a giant bulky black and white box that revolutionised the way families lived, communicated and even ate. Hard to imagine, but TV dinners didn’t even exist before 1956.

Internet Technology has come along and just about changed all of our lives, becoming front and centre of almost everything we do, especially video across a multitude of devices. Not quite usurping the telly-box, but certainly disrupting the commercial models and schedules.

Speaking ahead of Mipcom, Simon Cowell Syco founder told Broadcast that “it won’t be long” before YouTube is a serious alternative to traditional channels.

You can’t argue with that, however the way he is using 2nd screen viewing to shape his formats, is in my opinion, a little misguided.

Cisco predict that by 2015, 85% of all traffic across the network will be video. That’s huge. YouTube reckon that 72 hours of video is currently uploaded onto their platform every single minute. Anyone else think that’s just insane? Imagine what that number will become by 2015.

Everyone it seems is ‘broadcasting themselves’. I did however think that theatre was the last bastion of our culture that remained untouched by the insatiable need to film and share almost everything for re-viewing again and again at a later date.

I was wrong.

Despite the warnings not to film or record at every theatre or gig you go to, people do. And not surreptitiously either. At a performance of ‘Wicked’ recently, huge swathes of the audience were filming it on their smart phones. There is even a very grainy film on YouTube of yours truly at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1991. Even with the excellent offering from Digital Theatre people still want to share their own experiences of an event.   

At our Turkish ‘all inclusive’ holiday extravaganza the animation team did a show for our viewing pleasure every single night. They totally got that their audience (about 85%) would be filming the show, and themselves watching the show, then uploading it to YouTube.

They created a show to be viewed through a lens and repeatedly on YouTube at a later date. They categorically did not create a live theatre event, and were very clear about that at when we talked.

So every night we watched the cast mime to a backing track including all the dialogue. I kid you not. The Turkish cast now ‘spoke and sang’ in Disney-American-English.

Online you can’t tell the show is mimed. So no ropey English with a heavy Turkish accent, no singing out of tune, no missed ques. The lighting looks fabulous, and frankly the (really dreadful) show looks amazing on the many versions posted on YouTube. Essentially because you can’t tell it’s all performed courtesy of a click track. (Go and Google, Sorgun Voyage, Turkey).

The ability to record and upload to the Internet for free means two things: the infinite possibility of enjoyment of the said experience, over and over again, and a potentially infinite audience to enjoy it with you. After all, everything sounds, looks and feels better when it’s delivered as a fully orchestrated memory for you.

There is much research around 2nd screen showing passive viewing is a thing of the past. Google published a really interesting paper on this. Check it out here.

I’m not so sure it’s all about being interactive with brands however. I think we are missing a trick. Our devices, other than the telly box, are very, very personal to us. They are our very own private screens for viewing, sharing, and curating versions of ourselves.

We describe and articulate ourselves now through sharing our personal experiences socially. In my day it was looking through someone’s LP collection.

My colleague Maria Lia Malandrino (When she pronounces her name grown men swoon) thinks the point is that ‘shows, entertainment, and experiences in general are not created to be enjoyed on the spot anymore, but are already projected in the future, looking to the future enjoyment we will get from watching them on youtube, or the self esteem boost we get from sharing the video on Facebook, twitter and tumblr’.

Google is right, there is no doubt that we have become a nation of multi-screeners, using our devices sequentially or simultaneously. And that traditional media isn’t generally consumed in the same way anymore, whether it’s video, prose or live events.

If content is King, then context is definitely Queen, and I can’t help thinking that the way we perceive entertainment, is actually in relation to we how we want others to perceive us and not the other way round, Simon Cowell.

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2 Responses to A Tale of Two Screens

  1. Roy Edmonds says:

    I’m surprised BBC iPlayer hasn’t evolved beyond user-interface redesign to offer consumers the chance to interact with media in other ways, as iPlayer’s Anthony Rose has moved on to do with the launch of Zeebox. The BBC needs to lead the way in the UK, as it is the only broadcaster with the infrastructure, quality content and money to innovate in the current climate.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I think your right and isn’t it sad how we’ve got to a point where we need to broadcast everything we do, every bit of entertainment we experience. Are we getting to a point where every experience we have is second hand? Surely the point of an experience is it happened to you not to someone else?

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