Viewers embracing new ways to watch television

By Caitlin Pike

technology and multimedia platforms are revolutionising the way we
watch television, according to a panel of experts at the convention.

seems that the only factors likely to limit the take-up of new viewing
technology are people’s incomes and the amount of spare time they have.

panel, chaired by the Guardian columnist and former managing director
of Carlton Productions, Steve Hewlett, agreed that the numbers of
people using on-demand, mobile phone and broadband television were all
increasing as they moved away from traditional terrestrial television.

vice president for research and development, Mike Short, unveiled the
early results of an extensive mobile phone TV trial carried out last

He said: “A mobile phenomenon is now a [global] reality and
we can ill afford to see the UK falling behind. It is impossible for us
not to have mobile TV at the London Olympics – we need to be organised
and play our part.”

Short said that of the 375 people who took
part in O2’s mobile TV trial, news channels were the most popular part
of the service, closely followed by soap operas. According to O2,
people watch TV on their mobile phone for an average of 23 minutes at a
time and 36 per cent of those using the service do so in the home.

panellist Andrew Canter, who runs content agency Contentworx, backed
the panel’s view on consumer behaviour and technology with statistics
from the Future Foundation. He said: “Digital TV has shown the fastest
growth in the first few years of its inception compared to other types
of technology.

There will be two million HDTV [high-definition]
sets by the end of 2006, more than one million homes already have a
Sky+ box and around two million people view TV programmes via their
broadband-enabled PC. In excess of five million of us have 3G mobile

“So you can see that the Great British consumer is
taking to this technology very quickly indeed. We have been discussing
and debating whether the TV and the PC will converge. Perhaps with
Microsoft’s Media Centre we are already there.”

Short reminded
the audience that 30 per cent of UK adults did not have regular access
to mobile telephones and that a similar number did not have internet in
their homes. He said that class, income, knowledge and confidence were
all factors that prevented people from adopting new technology.

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