Is television the new radio?

“Oh what a goal!” and as I belatedly look up at the television I see players celebrating and the goalkeeper picking the ball out of the net.  I then quickly have to decide whether to rewind the live broadcast or wait for a replay of the goal to be aired.  I choose the latter, but at the same time I bemoan the fact that I completely missed the goal because I was too busy surfing on my tablet.  In fact I missed all 5 goals.

And here is the thing.  Is television starting to become less a visual medium and more an audio medium?  True, we are talking about a relatively small proportion of viewers affected by this and there is no evidence it will become a serious issue.  Nevertheless, the rise of ‘second screening’ means that viewing behaviour is changing and attention is split.  The ears are focussed on one screen and the eyes on the other and move back and forth at irregular intervals.  Maybe we need to think up a new word for television that removes the visual element?  Although, I think radio has got that one covered.

Splitting the screens and senses has implications for advertising too.  More emphasis may need to be made on the audio impact of ads to grab the viewer’s attention away from the other screen rather than just a visually engaging piece of creative.  But it is getting complicated as we now have the technology to drive targeted ads to the individual’s tablet (and to all their mobile devices) based on the user’s recent online behaviour and indeed for televisions too in 2013 via Sky’s AdSmart (based on household geo-demographics).

I’ve wondered before whether we are going to move towards a model where the consumer actively chooses their advertising, in the same way they choose content, rather than having it thrust upon them.  How many times have you received an ad for something that you recently bought?  We are already starting to get used to product placement on our television screens, but what if at the same time the programme was being shown on one screen, an interactive stream relating to that placement was available immediately on the second screen device?  Shazam are starting to do it now.  The two screens are working in tandem for content and advertising.  They already work together for television and social media, so why not?

Tablets and mobile devices are a tonic for all media and television is no exception, as Thinkbox’s MRG and MRS award winning ‘Screen Life’ research will attest.  They are also great for setting up the recording for Match Of The Day to watch all the goals I missed.

John Carroll is Senior Director in Ipsos MediaCT and Chairman of the Media Research Group (follow John on Twitter @MediaCarroll)

  • Calum Chace

    Surely it’s a bit daft to use a medium which is enslaved to pictures as if it were radio.  Isn’t … well … radio better for that?  Especially now that podcasts allow us to listen to what we want to, when we want to, so that Radio 4 listeners, for instance, no longer have to expose themselves to the indignity of Gardeners Question Time, or the appalling Jenny Murray.

    Man cannot live by Radio 4 alone, but R4 over the TuneIn app on your smartphone, supplemented by podcasts: now that is a rich media life!