There’s a sea change brewing in the media consumption habits of audiences, and Paul Pauwels, a commissioning editor at Belgium’s VRT Canvas, is certain it’s going to happen soon. ‘I’m absolutely convinced that in two or three years’ time, people will be consuming audio visual products in a way that’s inconceivable today.’ It’s a hot topic these days, so realscreen asked Pauwels and Matt Campbell, director of TV and online content at Australia’s SBS, to weigh in on how consumption tides, they are a-changin’:
‘The recent launch of the video player on SBS’ website illustrates the eagerness of audiences to watch non-fiction content online,’ says Campbell. SBS’ player (on which viewers can watch clips of things like previous newscasts), launched without any publicity at 5 p.m. one evening and by 9 a.m. the next morning, he says ‘there were 3,000 hits on the player itself, not on the website. That doesn’t sound like a lot compared to how many people will tune into a free-to-air program, but 20% of those people were from overseas. We were all gobsmacked.’ Even without any hype, the player was, literally, an overnight success.
Pauwels agrees that platforms enabling viewers to fit programming into their schedules will become more popular: ‘Before, you had to watch a program when it was broadcast or you missed it, but every day it’s becoming easier to store it and take it where you want to watch it: your iPod, mobile phone, DVD player, computer. The traditional way of consuming media products – the whole family in front of the television – is completely disappearing.’
He’s especially impressed by the way younger viewers multitask. It comes down to their priorities, says Pauwels. ‘Not every source will get their full attention, but they have these kinds of ‘tentacles’ where they know how to deal with them [simultaneously].’