Welcome to Connected Viewing

Curator's Note

While the promise of interactive television has existed since the early days of cable television, many decades later, it has been delivered in the developing form of connected viewing. Connected viewing, while specifically referring to a digital multi-screen and multi-tasking entertainment experience, relates to a larger trend across the media industries to integrate digital technology and socially-networked communication with traditional entertainment practices. With social networking sites beginning to figure more prominently as delivery platforms and marketing tools, connected viewing has become increasingly important to content providers, distribution networks, and viewers. The migration of content to the digital space "beyond the box" and the expansion of consumer engagement strategies have enlisted the support of second screen content initiatives (such as those at Disney); social networking services (HBO Connect, Twitter, or “Must-Tweet TV”); apps and app editions (like those for The Dark Knight and Inception); and a variety of over-the-top technologies (such as Flixster Collections, and Google TV). The video here is an early ad for Google TV that demonstrates a simplistic, albeit user-friendly pitch for one part of the experience offered by connected viewing. (NB: Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola could have interesting implications for the future of Google TV, and for connected viewing in general.)

The Media Industries Project at UCSB has begun a collaboration with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution to examine the many developments in the connected viewing landscape that have resulted in the migration of content from one screen to many, divided the attention of viewers, and disrupted established content flows and business models. These developments have also opened up new frontiers for everything from marketing and windowing practices to narrative strategies, media policy, and even research metrics. Our Connected Viewing Initiative has engaged an international research team to examine how media and viewership are transforming in this new environment; this week showcases four team members and their thoughts on connected viewing.  Sharon Strover discusses how connected viewing has taken us into the realm beyond “flow," Gregory Steirer will be examining the economics of secondary markets, Aynne Kokas writes about connected viewing as it impacts global film marketing, and Ethan Tussey will be looking at HBO Go and interactivity. We are all looking forward to a week of posts that serve up productive food for thought, conversation, and, above all, connection.



Thanks for sharing Connected Viewing with IMR, Jen.  I'm fascinated by the various ways scholars today are interacting with the media industries.  What are the benefits of these new partnerships?  Do they increase the visibility of our work?  Does a partnership like that between the Connected Viewing Initiative and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution suggest a longer-term shift in the work of scholars, or is this a unique moment of change, during which both scholars and industry alike are trying to understand how the ground is shifting beneath us? 

One of the biggest benefits of these parternships exists in the ongoing demystification process they engender. It's like peeking behind the wizard's curtain, or peeling an onion, or whatever metaphor you prefer ... and it works in both directions, for the industry and scholars, as we try to find a language, a set of priorities and some common objectives that make sense to both of us. Obviously, different agendas exist and we won't (and shouldn't) agree on everything, but CVI has prompted us to refine our questions and improve the ways we articulate them as much as it has opened a space for our industry partners to reconsider their own assumptions when confronted with a research agenda they wouldn't necessarily persue on their own. I think the current moment gives the project some urgency, but CVI also has proven the need for more projects like it, addressing different topics of interest. 

At the exponential rate that technologies are developed in the modern-day, we can never be sure of what to expect next. Google TV, as the commercial describes, is an interactive TV system designed to fit consumer wants. With the interactive system, viewers do not have to rearrange their personal schedules in order to watch their own television shows but rather they can watch them instantly. While this was also true before, Google TV makes it possible through their large home entertainment systems instead of small computer screens.

For me personally, Google TV (as well as other interactive television systems, like Apple TV) sound extremely appealing. Being that I am a busy young adult balancing school, work and social activities, I rarely have the opportunity to follow any shows' progression for longer than a few episodes. However, I am an avid user of online Hulu, Netflix, ABC, MTV, and YouTube. On my days off, I find a few random hours in the afternoon to catch up with the shows I like. This is not always a pleasureable experience, though, as if I want to watch with friends or family members, my computer's sound system is often too quiet and the screen too small for us to enjoy together. Google TV connecting directly to the big screen television in my living room solves this particular dilemma. I have to say that I advocate for interactive television systems like Google TV, as I believe they are the inevitable future of viewing technologies. 


Thank you for sharing your findings about Google TV. Just the other day I had a similar conversation with a friend about the ways in which television and the internet interplay with eachother. While Netflix and Hulu provide simple viewing of films and television programs, they lack the ability to surf the web. After viewing the clip about what Google TV offers its viewers I realize how close we are to having the ability to watch TV via the web. One can only wonder how long it will be before  I can have access to interactive television systems such as Google TV.

I am looking forward to utilizing this new technology.

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