TV misses a trick in the bedroom

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It’s true. Australian’s are grabbing their iPads – or other tablets – and jumping into bed. Hooked up to their wifi, they’re watching more and more video. That has to be great news for advertisers and a big opportunity for the free to air TV channels.

According to a recent Ericsson ConsumerLab survey, 38% of Australians are watching TV and video content on-demand and over half are downloading it to a mobile device of some sort. The same research shows we’re lagging behind when it comes to watching video on the go so, presumably, we’re using these devices as another TV screen in the home.

Foxtel has helped this process along with their FoxtelGo service. As well as a plethora of on-demand stuff, subscribers can choose from more than 50 live channels (including live sport) on their iPad and iPhone. “Certainly good enough to watch in bed,” wrote Sydney Morning Herald journalist Adam Turner.

He’s not the only one to take a tablet and have a long lie down. Google the words “iPad in bed” and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to iPad stands, all designed to make watching video in bed that much more comfortable.

It was obvious tablets were going to be online video’s new best friend. More than half of US tablet owners watch video sand TV on their device (according to ComScore) – almost 20% watch at least once a week. If the numbers aren’t the same here, they will be soon.

ABC and SBS recognised this shift when they launched their excellent online catch-up services. We can assume the commercial players will follow suit soon. Their current offerings are fairly limited and most channels don’t even offer the chance to watch live TV online.

The question has to be, why? Viewing in the home will soon spread to viewing on the train or in the park, as 4G becomes more commonplace. Ericsson reckons 20% of Australians will be watching TV away from home on a mobile device in the next few years.

This extra viewing time is an opportunity for established broadcasters – online video can extend the reach and impact of TV campaigns. Imagine the power of a cross platform campaign that switches creative and placement depending on the device and viewer profile. The free to air component delivers the big numbers, but the same show online would spread reach and build awareness in a very targeted way.

Sadly, consumers seem to be adapting to change faster than the industry. TV and online is rarely planned in an integrated way and free to air players need to get much more of their content online. Otherwise the audiences will quickly go elsewhere.

John Paul Getty said, “In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.” Okay, he wasn’t talking about the explosion of online video, but he could have been. Or if you prefer Bob Dylan, “The first one now, will later be last, for the times they are a-changin”.