As a media trend, the idea of viewers text messaging votes to shows like American Idol to encourage more audience interactivity is great and encouraged...but one thing is clear: SMS text messaging is not as big as instant messaging online and it never will be.
TVpredictions.com's Phillip Swann doesn't buy into all the hype regarding TV evolution into Interactive TV. Mr. Swann is a smart guy and attracts a strong following on his insights.
In an April 4th blog post, he says "Some industry analysts believe that tomorrow's hyperactive teens will be tomorrow's Interactive TV users. Don't bet on it." Considering all the positive transformations in the past year -- one million new broadband users this quarter, the rapid rise of viral videos, podcasting and TV show downloads for purchasing (not to mention the HUGE undermarket of peer2peer file sharing of both audio and video content) -- Swann's comments pricks a hole in possibly over-inflated hopes for the New TV of the Near Future.
Referring to a new AP-AOL-Pew poll showing that only eight percent of Americans say they have used their cell phones to interact with TV shows, he suggests claims that millions of Americans are voting on shows like American Idol are overblown. 35 million text messaged votes every week for a TV show? Really? When only 8% of all American's actually text message shows? Does that mean American Idol gets 100% participation EVERY WEEK from those who text message at all?
He says it's more likely that Idol's voting totals are dominated by a relatively small number of people, who vote over and over again for their favorite contestants. The majority of the Idol audience just sits there and watches (and relaxes), like TV viewers have done since the beginning of television itself.
He comments that this poll failed to measure teens and pre-teens, the so-called future audience of interactive television and that today's hyper-interactive, multi-tasking youth will become Interactive TV's biggest supporters when they grow older.
Like Swann, I agree that as these texting teens age and are burdened by more responsibilites and demands on their time, the less available time and interest will be dedicated to time wasters like SMS voting. Will Interactive TV continue to grow? Yes. As much as predicted? Probably not. Certainly not as fast as estimated by many.
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posted by Chris Kennedy @ Thursday, April 06, 2006,
- At 7:30 PM, Brian Yoder said...
You are so right! The whole idea that TV is better when it's interactive is one that is both obviously false but also refuses to die. TV is all about sitting back and enjoying the show. Interactivity is all about getting involved, doing things, and changing things. Even though both involve a glowing glass screen, they are as different as watching a football game and playing a football game. Nobody would imagine that those who would have the same characteristics (not to mention popularity) but somehow with TV generations of people have been trying to get people interested in both at once. It will never ever work.
That's not to say that there's nothing that computers can do to help enhance TV, for example TiVo and RSS video feeds are a HUGE improvement in making TV better if implemented well, but neither of these are remotely interactive experiences. They are basically just a smarter channel selector, not a different kind of medium.