Friday, January 25, 2008, 10:16 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
Two weeks ago, in "Here Comes the Video Experience Era", I argued that in the future consumers' satisfaction with video will have less to do with traditional yardsticks. I tried to explain it this way: if you are a TV manufacturer, traditional consumer satisfiers have included "how big is my set and how great is the picture quality" while if you are a content provider, traditional satisfiers have been "how funny is that show, or seeing well-loved actors/actresses."
But in that prior post, coming at the conclusion of CES, I suggested that consumers are beginning to shift from using these metrics to gauge their own satisfaction with video. Instead they are increasingly looking for new and compelling video experiences, many of which are not yet well-defined. These might include how well do broadband-delivered video choices integrate with the overall TV experience, how can I interact with the content and with other viewers, or how can I move it around from device to device depending on my lifestyle?
I raise all of this again today because just this week I was provided with a very tangible data point supporting my assertions. A good friend of mine recently bought a 50 inch plasma HDTV (his first HDTV set). He doesn't work in the technology or content industries. To understand his technical orientation better, if on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 was a technology Luddite and 10 was an uber-geek, he'd be about a 5. He's not afraid of technology, but hardly rushes out to get every new thing. And note, he's 44 years old, not 14 or 24.
With is new TV in place, one of the first things he did was begin figuring out how to connect it to his PC. Since the TV didn't have a VGA port, he researched and found a relatively inexpensive adaptor to convert VGA output to component inputs for his TV. When done, he excitedly emailed me saying that, by his count, he's now playing 10 different formats on his TV (linear TV, broadband content - both free and paid, Netflix Watch Instantly, podcasts from his iTunes library, DVD, Blu-ray DVD, DVR, VOD, CD Music and radio). And he's psyched to read surf the web on his TV, and move files around. Talk about a plethora of choices and experiences!
To understand the emerging mindset of today's consumer, the example of my friend is illustrative. It was not just the 50 inch plasma TV that got him excited. Rather, it was the impetus to expand his video choices and to add new energy to pre-existing options. Here again, the interplay of technology and content is what is cool to him. Not just one or the other in isolation. I believe his mindset is becoming more common each day. It embodies what marketers and product managers in the "video experience era" will need to grasp if their companies are to succeed.
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