This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.
We own 289 million televisions in the United States. That’s more than two TVs per household, and with consumers spending just shy of 145 hours a month watching, it might be time to kick baseball to the curb and start calling television America’s national pastime.
While the overwhelming majority of viewers watch television through traditional sources — broadcast, cable and satellite — according to Nielsen, the number of households watching TV through such sources decreased by 1.3 million within the past year.
More and more families are moving away from traditional television subscription services to devices such as Apple TV and Roku, which are digital “boxes” that let us stream content from popular online video and music channels through our televisions.
These new technologies mean that gone are the days when couples had to huddle in front of a laptop screen to watch an instant Netflix flick on movie night, or rely on inferior computer speakers when listening to music on Pandora or Spotify.
More importantly, an Apple TV or a top-of-the-line Roku player only costs $100; that’s a one-time fee, which compares favorably with a monthly cable bill of $100 or more. Tack on a few $10 monthly subscriptions to services such as Amazon Prime and you’re still better off.
If you’re someone who enjoys shows that are readily available from services such as HBO GO, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, purchasing individual programming and applications is a vastly cheaper viewing option.
If you’re more likely to sit down to cheer on the Titans, it’s better to hang on to your cable package for now. Nielsen’s polls show that in 2012, 99 percent of adults watched sports TV programming live or within the same day of airing. With nearly 60,000 programming hours on national broadcast and cable television devoted to sports last year, traditional TV consumption of sporting events is still on the rise and offers the most viewing flexibility and coverage.
For companies looking for a way into Americans’ changing living room, there are plenty of opportunities to capitalize on second-screen technology — people using their computers, smartphones or tablets while watching TV.
Depending on what study you look at, somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of TV viewers are on a second device while watching. Businesses and brands can engage with these viewers on social media, with targeted online offers and even with mobile applications.
Whether “the ideal viewing experience” is the longed-for single device that lets consumers record and download any content at any time, or it takes the form of a completely new and disruptive technology, the way that we consume media is in flux.
This year, technology will continue to let companies personalize ads and TV programming based on individual viewer preferences, forever changing the entertainment nucleus of your family’s home and lives.