Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Screens Are Better Than One

Count me in the majority, I look at my smartphone when I am watching TV. "About 70% of tablet owners and 68% of smartphone owners said they use their devices while watching television, according to Nielsen’s mobile connected device report for the first quarter of 2011". And I suspect this percentage will only continue to grow. What are we doing with our devices while concurrently watching TV. For me, it is to catch up on email, get scores of out-of-market baseball games, and play Words With Friends and other silly games. Commercial breaks become an obvious time to sneak a peak but I also escape to my second screen in program. The reasons seems to be that most content on TV is what I call "low involvement" programming. It requires little attention to know what is occurring and one can drop in and out of viewing the show and still feel engaged in the plot. On the other hand, "high involvement" programming requires more attentiveness to remain engaged in the on-screen plot. Losing focus causes the viewer to feel lost in what may have transpired on the screen. For these types of programs, less 2 screen viewing would seem to occur.

Would viewers want to engage with the TV program on their smartphone or tablet? I see a fit with those who want that water cooler social approach during the show. Others may simply want related content pertaining to on-screen action on their handheld device. For now, the second screen provides unrelated content to the TV screen, but still of interest to the user. For the moment, we are building a comfort level with a 2 screen viewing approach and I doubt that will ever diminish.

Nook Nabs Niche

Ok, not quite a niche, but the Barnes and Noble Color Nook seems to have caught the eye of the female demographic. Whether a purposeful strategic approach or not, the Nook seems to have drawn in a far larger skewing female audience. "On the surface, the reason for the strong performance of female-oriented publications on the Nook is relatively straightforward. Generically speaking, the iPad and other tablets are men's toys, while the Nook Color and other e-readers are more popular with women. According to data from Forrester Research, 56 percent of tablet owners are male, while 55 percent of e-reader owners are female." Is this because of a technological need or a content one?

Certainly, Barnes & Noble's marketing push has aimed squarely at the female audience to start. "And Barnes & Noble has marketed the $249 Nook Color toward females. Ads show women and girls reading it in various states of relaxation and repose: at the beach, in bed, on the couch." Executives at B&N have also been more collaborative with magazine publishers, with both the negotiation of the pricing model and with the actual production to get the print repurposed to digital. They recognized that content was needed to make the devices more valuable to its audience. More female magazines, more female readers, more female Nook purchasers.

It seems where the Apple iPad has excelled has been in mobile web application. But with printed content, the e-book readers have been excelling. Also too, Apple has been slower to approving subscription models for its iPad then the Nook or Kindle has been for their devices. Consequently, female readers have flocked to e-books to get book and magazine content in a digital form while male web users have flocked to the iPad. If we consider that all of these devices are still in their early acceptance stages, once content availability becomes ubiquitous across all devices, so should the percentages of male and female users also split evenly across all these same devices.

At that point, will consumers feel the need to own both devices or will the preference be to have tablets and e-readers start to look and work more like the other? For now, each is defining it's space and having a successful time doing it. And that may mean we own both a table and a e-book reader.