I’m not sure if you watched the State of the Union speech the other night. I’m pretty sure you’ll watch the Super Bowl (even if your rooting interest is diminished due to the Jets’ demise). But here’s the thing: I’m not exactly sure what “watch” is any more. What I am sure about is that the methods we used to measure how many people are watching don’t reflect how what watching occurs anymore and because of that a lot of the reporting about these events is flawed. Here’s what I mean.
If you happened to see the feed of the speech at Whitehouse.gov you would have seen an integration of a video feed with charts and other interactive materials. Unless you have some sort of over-the-top service on your TV, there is no way to experience this event in this manner. The ratings were down around 11% I gather but I’m willing to bet more people were actually watching, tweeting, or participating in some way than any of the measuring systems can say. When the White House feed has live split-screen video of the speech along with graphs and visuals on the right that explain the points the President was making, why would you stick with just the TV feed? In fact, there is an argument to be made that those TV entities whose audiences were least impacted might have the least-desirable audiences since they’re probably not all that tech-savvy.
Then there’s sports and this article today:
While the obvious Super Bowl ingredients are beer, chips, football action, parties and conversation, one study says not to forget another growing multitasking activity: smartphones.
Young Super Bowl TV watchers 18-34 who have smartphones will be using them heavily during the big game on February 6. According to Lightspeed Research, 59% intend to send emails and text messages about the game during play.
Some would argue that all this other “stuff” going on while people are “watching” detracts from their attention levels. I disagree. NBC streamed Sunday Night Football along with an interactive framework and the traditional TV ratings went up (hard to get great HD pictures on the web). I wonder if NBC has data on how many viewers were also consuming their web feed for the interactivity?
I think viewers are more acutely interested than ever and are participating in new ways. I’m just not sure that the systems we’ve been using for 50 years can accurately measure how they’re watching.
How do you watch? What’s your take?