Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists

Events

Active TV slowly emerging

Tuesday 16 November 2010

A shift is underway in television in Australia and it has nothing to do with digital versus analogue or the pay versus free shifts. Instead we are finally seeing the promise of TV as a medium of engagement. That promise sees a shift from the passive watching of TV (a 'push' approach) to the active engagement of TV (a 'pull' approach). The initial signs began a few years ago with the rise of voting lines for the 'so you think you can take two big idol brothers' TV shows. At that point TV producers began handing control of their shows over to the crowds that watched them, though not completely. The active-ness saw the viewer become physically involved albeit in a small way by getting out of their couches to grab their phones to express their choice of who to keep on the show they were watching. I'm waiting for a similar approach to a murder mystery, but I digress.

The next impetus for the push came less from the TV shows themselves and more from the makers of gaming sets - the Wii being the first dominant model with both Nintendo and X Box following suit.  The shift toward using the TV screen in conjunction with a software program saw Wii Fit and similar offerings encourage people to get off the couch and exercise.  The difference between this approach and that of the VHS/DVD fitness programs is that a small camera puts the end user ON the screen.  The passive, became active and the active then started to engage.  And customers across all industries WANT to engage.

Last week the ante was upped again with Junior Masterchef conducting an on screen, real time cooking class.  Both my 5 year old and 8 year old 'wanted to cook' and I spent a frantic 15 minutes prior to the start of the show collecting ingredients from our supermarket (not the show sponsor).  Thankfully the other significant adult in the household is a gun at cooking and took the reins whilst I watched or cleaned up on the run.  The active viewer became the engaged viewer and this is the type of shift that TV programs need to make to stay relevant - first hand control of the program over to the audience and then get the audience actively engaged.

A few tips for the producers of Junior Masterchef - next year start the program earlier - it finished too late for most younger kids to either partake or meant a late additional (sweet) meal which was no good.  And the online instructions were small and clumsy - that was a layout problem with the page and should have been picked up - make the instructions easy for kids to follow - that wasn't the case.  And for the rest of us the lessons are huge - regardless of your industry work out how to get your potential customers to engage with your products, rather than be passive users.


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