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CONVERGE | Technology

How the TV Experience is Changing and What it Means for You

May 04, 2018

Your TV is not the same as it was 60 years ago…but where will it be 60 years from now?


By: Rob Frappier


Since television first became a staple of American households nearly 60 years ago, TV technology has evolved tremendously. Just imagine how someone from that era would react if you showed them one of the 8K TV sets that were featured at CES this year.

But while TVs have gotten bigger and better, their role in the home has largely remained the same. Whether families were watching Leave it to Beaver in 1958 or Game of Thrones in 2018, TV has always given us a reason to come together to bond over great stories.

In the last decade, however, the options for viewing content have expanded greatly thanks to the explosion of smart phones and other devices. Why would someone choose to watch their favorite shows on a 5 inch screen instead of their 50 inch screen? Largely, it’s a matter of convenience.

Instead of having to gather around the TV to enjoy their favorite shows, people now have the opportunity to stream the content they want to watch anytime and anywhere. Plus, with a device like your phone or tablet, you can quickly switch from watching a video to sending an email or posting an update on social media in seconds.

Even those who are watching TV are distracted by smart devices. A recent study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau revealed that 81 percent of respondents admitted to using another device while watching TV.

So, while the home TV viewing experience remained superior and provided the opportunity for a shared experience, it began to be supplanted by the more convenient, but more isolated experience of watching content on devices. In response, manufacturers have done something interesting: they’ve stopped making TVs.

The TV of the Future is More Than Just a TV

Okay, manufacturers haven’t really stopped making TVs, but they have stopped making just TVs. To protect television’s central role in the home, manufacturers knew that they had to provide more value to the consumer. The result has been the explosion of Smart TVs and other connected devices. In Nielsen’s most recent Total Audience Report, “58.7 percent of TV Households own at least one internet-enabled device that is capable of streaming content to the television set.” And these smart devices are getting smarter.

At CES 2018, manufacturers showed off TVs with so many functions that calling them TVs at all seems outdated. One incredible prototype even featured a display that rolled up and descended into a stand, leaving only a small section of the screen visible for weather alerts, sports scores and other bite-sized pieces of information.

While this kind of flexibility is certainly an incredible advance, the goal of these manufacturers isn’t to replace our smart phones. Rather, it’s to make TVs a sort of technological hub for the home that can interact with all of our devices.

TV’s New Role as the Family Tech Hub

In the future, we’ll likely stop thinking of TVs, phones, tablets and other devices as discrete pieces of technology, but simply as screens. There are big screens, little screens and everything in between, and they will all work together.

This is where the promise of TV from the 1950s can live on in the future. While the actual TV may not keep its role as the only source of entertainment for modern families, it will become a vital part of a home’s technological ecosystem. And as devices become more sophisticated and interconnected, the TV can become the point where everything comes together.

It’s entirely possible that in 10 years, families will not only use their TV to gather to watch movies or their favorite show, but also to make video calls to relatives all around the country. In other words, the TV (whether we call it that or not) will continue to bring people together and be an important part of the home for years to come.

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