The future of the living room
The traditional image of the family living room calls to mind a simpler life with limited entertainment choices, however the future of the living room is vastly different.
Imagine the traditional 1950’s living room scenario. Mum, Dad and little Jimmy gathered around the state of the art 15” box set in suburban USA, watching ads for cigarettes and cars.
In slightly more recent times, Mum, Dad, grandma and the kids sat on the sofa watching Saturday night primetime in the 70’s and 80’s.
Even in the early 90’s the ‘1950’s living room phenomenon’ was still going strong, although, the introduction of the World Wide Web soon changed the dynamic of the front room (Not forgetting the godsend called the Playstation 1, which has paved the way for multi-functional consoles in the modern era, opening up a plethora of marketing opportunities, but we’ll save that for another blog post 🙂 ).
The living room once provided the best arena for brands to get in front of their audiences. That’s until, multiple TV households, 100’s of channels, content on demand, mobile devices, gaming consoles and high speed internet. All of which, seemed for a long while to spell the end of this long-standing tradition.
So what has changed? Why is the living room becoming an important focal point for marketers once again?
Jump forward a few decades and it’s clear to see how times have changed. Technology has advanced radically thanks to ‘moore’s law’, as well as the classic nuclear family now becoming less conventional. Despite these changes, the traditional family front room is once again becoming the norm, and this presents a number of valuable opportunities for brand marketers.
According to a series of Ofcom studies, families are starting to gravitate back to the living room and back to their family TV sets. Some of the key stats from this study showed that:
- 95% watch non-catch up TV weekly
- 91% of people tune into their main TV set weekly
- 41% of families have only 1 TV set in the house (a rise of 6% in ten years)
- 53% of children have TV’s in their bedrooms (17% drop in six years)
- 69% of sales for 26”+ TV sets – mainly for living rooms
The journalist and author Nigel Farndale wrote an article a few months ago about his memories growing up watching TV with his family in the late 70’s and 80’s. He talks about the feeling of security and familiarity, along with the sense of being a part of a big community. Not only were you and your family watching Only Fools and Horses, a big proportion of the UK was doing exactly the same – after all there were only 3 TV channels at the time.
So how does that translate to today? First of all, let’s look at some key ways that the modern living room differs from its previous incarnations.
The most obvious difference is that the TV isn’t necessarily the main focal point of the room anymore, at least not 100% of the time…
- 58% own a smartphone
- 44% own a tablet
- 57% will be using another screen whilst watching TV
- 45% claim to be stackers
- 25% claim to be meshers
If you’ve not heard of those terms, stacking is when someone is performing two unrelated tasks on different screens. For instance watching a show on the TV whilst playing a game on their mobile phone.
Meshing is where someone uses multiple devices simultaneously to enhance their media experience, such as visiting a website about a show, tweeting about the show, or perhaps directly engaging with the TV by scanning something with their mobile device.
So, what are the opportunities for brands? Find out in our Multi-screen opportunities for brands blog post