There was a time where one would watch a film (movie / talkie / cinematic oeuvre) and spend an enjoyable 90 minutes trying to figure out where you’d seen that actor before.
To most, a familiar and hugely frustrating experience that detracts from the essential viewing experience of following the plot, admiring the special effects, listening to the score, or enjoying the cinematography. But to some, a growing minority it turns out, it’s an essential part of the viewing experience.
We’ve known for a long time that although the internet has done a great deal for improving our access to geographically dispersed family members, and allowing people to work in their dressing gowns, the one thing it must never be forgiven for is its ability to ruin a good argument before it starts.
How nice it is to watch a movie, and then spend the evening at dinner discussing who is the better director; Hitchcock or Scorsese. No longer. Now you would just go to IMDB, tot up the ratings for all their movies, and arrive at an average per movie rating to kill a good argument in the bud.
But it gets worse.
Now, with split-screen, lean-forward consumer-engaged buzzword-laden technologies, such as the Connected TV start-up Zeebox, or RedBee’s RedDiscover, the argument is killed before it even starts.
Now you watch films at home, or at the cinema, with your smart phone on vibrate, constantly being fed details on the musical score, the actor’s biography, or about the casting director that suddenly makes the experience so much more rewarding.
The key, it turns out, is that the way people discover and consume media is changing. The user no longer desires an experience in isolation, nor is he limited by the extent of his imaginatio when it comes to consuming media.
Services such as Youtube, Google, Vimeo, IMDB, Virgin TV, offer a wealth of experiences and access, but among this ‘hyperlink generation’ it is no longer a lean back and ‘be spoon-fed’ experience. Through these tools and more, we’re told that media has become something to engage with and to be immersed in.
So, a nice passive, ‘sit down and enjoy’ type experience is flying out of the window.
It’s the same with TV.
This year, Sky and the BBC are sharing rights for Formula 1. If Sky’s soccer coverage is anything to go by, there will be a host of terrible ‘interactive’ features – press the red button to see the view from Lewis Hamilton’s girlfriend-cam and to listen to his car stereo.
We may have the technology, but I’m not sure we have the energy to be so engaged with the TV.
An F1 grand prix used to be a perfect excuse for an afternoon snooze. This was as true in my dad’s day as it is in mine – the intertwining melody of my dad’s snoring, Ayrton’s McLaren and Murray’s microphone is an enduring memory.
Media for the hyperlink generation may be a clear and present trend in this increasingly accessible world of connected media and devices, but as a result, Sunday naps may be consigned to history as we instead reach for the red button, and our iPad, and our smartphone, to have an immersive experience.
This may be fine for the hyperlink generation, but naptime is important for the older digital warrior. They’re the ones who finance all this innovation, and if they get grouchy through lack of sleep, the funding for innovative connect TV may dry up.