In his final dispatch from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Starcom MediaVest's group CEO Stewart Easterbrook takes a look at how manufacturers are rethinking television
A major focus at the Consumer Electronics Show this week has been the development of TV. This really falls into two areas: advances in the manufacture of television screen hardware and developments in the user experience and the associated changes this will encourage in our viewing behaviour.
Firstly, the hardware. Easily the most eye-catching displays at CES are the huge number of screens flashing images across the convention centre. The television hardware 'arms race' is at its most intense with manufacturers displaying all types of amazing innovation - the largest LED screens ever, 3D TVs that do not require glasses, waterproof TVs (for the garden!) and very high definition screens. On the last of these, the talk at CES is all about OLED technology. It is difficult to convey just how impressive these screens are on a blog as they really have to be seen to be believed. But for around $20,000 you can be the proud owner of a TV that is such high definition that it effectively looks 3D. Even at much more reasonable price points, it is clear that soon we will be watching screens in our living rooms that show far higher quality images than those to which we are accustomed.
Secondly, the user experience. I think this is quickly going to feel a far greater change than those detailed above. CES has been all about smart TVs and the benefits that they will bring to viewers. I believe that the impact will be greatest in two areas; the blurring of the boundaries between broadcast TV & 'video' and the fact that we will be watching TV within our social networks. I think both of these changes have considerable implications for broadcasters and advertisers alike. Many of the smart TVs I have seen come with their own apps and operating systems which will have a huge influence on how viewers navigate towards the content they want to see. This raises questions for the value of a traditional broadcast 'channel' in the future.
The further development of TV viewing within an environment where our social networks are always on (either on the TV itself or via a second or third screen) will also have considerable implications for how viewers navigate and engage with TV. I think these changes are very positive.
Viewers will enjoy TV more than ever and probably watch more. But advertisers will have to adapt quickly to very disrupted viewing behaviour and develop content that is appropriate for more diverse viewing context.
This may not be what advertisers or channel broadcasters want but, as CES makes very clear, this change is coming. And it is coming fast.
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