The Evolution of Television programme consumption within the home
When looking at a certain form of media, it is vital to understand the role of it’s location, how it’s accessed and how it is strategically positioned to evoke a particular psychological function that is associated with it. Within my digital story I am ultimately aiming to look at the evolution of television consumption within the home over time. This idea had particularly stuck out to me upon reflecting on my own childhood and that of others I interacted with. Reliving this nostalgia had sparked the question of why and how has it changed so much from that of the past?
I feel as though the social norms that surround the prospect of the television as well as the location of the the television programme is viewed itself has had a huge impact on the way in which we identify our leisure with this medium. My study only extends to the evolution of our television viewing habits in the last ten years, and quite frankly this time frame alone has experienced monumental change.
It is ultimately through the advancements in technology that we are seeing trends start to change. The primary objective for many companies that produce something that has the intended desire to be used for leisure is for the individual to have utmost control over said device/programme so that they can create the most comfortable and personal experiences for themselves. Two of the most significant devices brought onto the market in the last two centuries is undoubtedly the introduction of the television as well as the internet. For quite some time, especially the early 2000’s, these two devices were exclusive to their own purpose. You would watch television to access your favourite television programmes and use the internet to access the internet, social media, etc. In recent year however, the two platforms have merged together with the birth of television streaming sites. Unlike commercial/free to air television, these websites provide a service to the consumer that television would sometimes fail in. This includes on-demand television and having the opportunity to watch all your favourite shows anywhere, at any time. As peoples needs change, so does their actions and the introduction of online streaming sites has provided consumers with all the aspects of television they love with the additional freedom and variety to suit their own individual preferences.
The way in which individuals access their television is dependant on a cross cultural factor, being age. Age can have a drastic impact on knowledge and ideas, especially in regards to technology. The younger generation are often more susceptible to being heavy users of the internet, and if they aren’t themselves their direct micro world consisting of their friends and peers act as the social push factor that may lead them to considering other ways of accessing their television programmes.
For the most part, we are seeing a trend of increased internet use and reliance with a declining rate of TV dependence in this age group. Research conducted by Think TV found that the percentage of time spent by 18-24 year olds watching television was 59.4% with the remaining time left solely for accessing their other devices via internet, smartphones or on tablets (AMS Q3, 2016). As the age brackets went up in age so does the percentage of TV users.
Table reference: (AMS Q3, 2016).
This is thought to be the case as the individual’s television show preferences may be solely accessible on their television set without additional need for accessing it via other means as well as being more accepting to that of more traditional methods with the view being that television should be for television.
Within my study I conducted primary research to investigate the opinions and experiences of people and their beliefs on the evolution of television consumption within the home. I decided to do this to delve into the topic matter a little deeper and gauge the answers I wanted. My study consisted of 30 participants, varying in age. I separated age into three different categories. 18-24, 25-34 and 35 + and aimed the individual to gauge their perspective on the subject matter from when they were living at home with their families/caregivers. This had allowed me to gain a perspective of two totally different generations as well as understanding how the dynamics within the house would have an effect on how the individual interpreted their own view of the evolution of television consumption within the home and thus aiding me for the rest of my research. My first question was if the individuals preferred to access their favourite TV shows in a public setting or private.
The two options were provided as well as an ‘I don’t mind’ option. 83% of respondents said that they would prefer to watch their television shows in a private setting with all respondents in the 18-24 age group opting for this choice. The age groups above were more lenient on the matter with the remaining 10% not particularly minding and the remaining 7% to prefer watching in a public setting. I went on to ask the individuals why they chose their answers and interestingly enough, those who admitted to preferring the public idea of consuming their television viewing had similar themed opinions. One respondent claiming that “in my family we all sit together and watch the latest episode of whatever show we ‘ve been keeping up with. It’s a great way to bond without too much pressure for conversation while appreciating the company of people/family around you” (Darwish, S. 2016). This statement I noticed ties into the whole theme of location as well. The television is often deemed as the heart of the home occupying the centre of the home and often surrounded by lounge chairs that project the social expectations of the living room being a place to come together and watch the television together.
When looking at the semiotics of space, it is a process that can be used to describe the significance of the relationships between objects and their spatial contexts (Gaines, E. 2006). When looking at the semiotics of space between the household and the television accessible devices, the two can draw a correlation that extends beyond it’s physical use, but also to individuals and their socialisation habits. Thus it extends beyond their own TV viewing and becomes a whole matter of making valuable connections with others.
Although some good and insightful points were raised by that older age group, the 18-24-year-old age group also had some pretty interesting points to share. Upon being asked why they preferred viewing their television viewing in a private setting, a lot of the respondents based their answers around the idea of it being a way to wind down or relax. “After a long day at work I look forward to coming home, having dinner and then going to watch my favourite shows in my bedroom”. (Darwish, S 2016)
The individual’s freedom lies not only in the the device they’re accessing their television from but also where the location of said viewing is done. The bedroom connotes a more relaxing and private environment where in general the individual does have full control over. Psychologically the bedroom has been associated with ultimate freedom and this can be reflected in the design of the bedroom which is specific to that of the individual.
Spatially, the television programme may be accessible at any part of the house but the bedroom enhances the comfort level for the individual which has allowed itself to become cemented as a prominent TV programme viewing area. This differs from that of the past as 100% of television programme viewing would’ve only been accessed via the common TV in the house. Contrasting with the older respondents’ television experience being one that brings people together, it also shows that solitude in television viewing is just another way in which television can be accessed and appreciated. Technology plays a significant role in how this preference has come to be a norm in today’s society as various devices are available now that one can access their television programs on that are not only spatially exclusive but are portable even beyond the home itself.
Another question I addressed in my survey is if the individuals thought that their TV watching habits have changed over the years at all, and as follows from above it states the same notion of pattern. The older generation were more likely to answer no to this as they’d managed not to look beyond any other device that wasn’t a television to bring television, nor did they expect anything of it. This ties into one of the other questions I went on to ask which was if the medium of which they chose to access their television viewing would have an effect on what they could watch. For the younger audience, this was answered as a ‘yes’ In 94% of respondents. I then also went on to ask those who answered yes why this was the case. Upon looking at the respondents’ answers all drew a similar idea. “The TV shows I like to watch generally aren’t available on regular free air television” (Darwish, S. 2016). It is true that most speciality television shows don’t air on free/local air TV. And even in the event their favourite shows are available on some of the pay television channels, the medium of the television doesn’t allow as much flexibility as the online streaming counterpart does where you are able to access almost any show on-demand. TV companies are known to have taken popular internet-only accessible TV shows and air them on pay TV in hopes to regain certain audiences, however the nature of the matter is that they begun watching it from their devices so making a switch would feel unnecessary. For example, Orange is The New Black – a popular Netflix only series made its debut onto Foxtel (a pay TV company) on the 27th of May 2016 (Idato, M. 2016). As preferences in television shows expand and online streaming sites expand their own line of television shows, the trend will only grow more.
The younger age group admitted from one respondee was that in a public setting, there was such little control over what shows were on. Although recording is an option, it definitely comes down to convenience, and on-demand usually fits that category. Over-time, it is evident that we as a society have become more accepting of this mode of accessing our entertainment. “It had opened up a whole new world to me, there’d been TV genres I only knew a little bit about but got to watching more and more of it and without having the opportunity to access it the way I have I would never have known” (Darwish, S 2016). Therefore, the shift in television consumption in the household has reflected impact on different aged individuals in very different ways.
Therefore, summing my research up together I can conclude that the evolution of television consumption within the household is solely reliant on the fact that technology Is ever-changing in it’s nature. Consequently, resulting in a multitude of ways that the individual is able to both access their television programme’s as well as the television programmes within it. Ultimately, it is important to note that is when one social norm is broken or differs ever so slightly from the norm it concurrently results in the other social actions of the individual to be disrupted or changed. In saying this, the spatial distribution of the medium and how it’s accessed can have an affect on individuals and their socialisation habits. An example of this was the switch from only watching television on the public TV to branching out to more private methods of doing so. This obviously is dependant on the generation/age difference of the individual.
AMS report Q3 . (2016). How Australians Watch Television. Available: http://www.thinktv.com.au/media/THINK_TV_Commercial_TV_Viewing_Report.pdf. Last accessed 18-10-16.
Gaines, E. (2006). Communication and the Semiotics of Space. Available: http://www.wright.edu/~elliot.gaines/space.pdf. Last accessed 15-10-16.
Idato, M. (2016). Foxtel and Netflix to share rights for Orange is the New Black. Available: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/foxtel-and-netflix-to-share-rights-for-orange-is-the-new-black-20150419-1mojvb.html. Last accessed 15-10-16.
Darwish, S. (2016) Survey results from primary research. Conducted on the 12-10-16