Last night I asked some questions to survey people about their television viewing habits. I’ve gotten a lot of really excellent responses so far and compiled some of the trends I saw in peoples responses.
Just to clarify something from my previous blog post, this is a research project. I’m not writing any code, I’m not building a TiVo like box or anything. At least not yet. What we’re doing is trying to understand what people are already doing when they watch TV to see if there’s a need that can be solved. Later we can examine that need, throw out ideas for how to solve it and figure things out from there.
I really appreciate everyone who took the time to respond to my questions, I have more questions for you coming soon. If you didn’t respond to my earlier questions just wait a little bit and I have more questions to incorporate to your response. If you did, I’m about to post more questions and it would be awesome to see the same people writing back again. You can use the subject “Killer Television” or creative derivatives (some people were pretty creative already) so I know you’re not a spammer
I could do this research as blog comments or a wiki thing, but I don’t want everyone to read other peoples responses since it tends to shape your own. Thanks for understanding, I’m keeping all my compiled results open for everyone to see and take part in and anyone who emailed me could also make public their responses if they want, I’m keeping them private otherwise. If you see something in my notes that you want to clarify email me and let me know, if you forgot to mention that you do something listed here or want to mention that you _never_ do something listed here let me know.
These are my notes so far:
Laptops in the living room
- Could be the audience, but most people have a laptop with them in the living room.
- Some people have full PCs, but they were used for a Media PC
- Some people will not use the laptop at all when their show is on, all attention is focused on the TV
Eating While You Watch
- Some people are set against eating while watching
- Others only snack while they watch TV
- Some always eat their meals while watching TV
- Some have DVRs (TiVo, Cable or Satellite DVR)
- Some people have MythTV and other similar media pc setups
- Australians have a situation with PVRs [ http://www.peter.com.au/pvrs.html ]
Which shows do you watch that you don’t record
- Live Sports, many people felt that watching sports after they’ve happened isn’t worth it.
- There’s a good number of people who watch live sports, need to ask more questions related to this (*)
Web sites of TV Shows
- Message boards, especially for complex shows like Lost help people keep up with the show
- Fan sites are much better than network offerings in terms of content and community of people who watch the show, they are also more frequently updated
- HBO often has decent sites related to their shows, however their message boards are lacking in community of users
- Commercial sites are mostly helpful for the time its on, who the cast is, an episode list and some synopsis, plus a lame store for show related items. Otherwise they don’t seem to be good resources
- IMDB and Wikipedia are helpful for researching information about shows, like actors and history
- Internet only offerings sometimes lure people to network sites, like alternate endings to a show or spoilers
- Many shows are offering phone numbers or sites to visit for more information, ex. Lost’s “Oceanic Airlines” site [ http://www.oceanic-air.com/ ] or American Idol’s phone voting
How You Catch up on a Series In Progress
- Many people buy or Netflix the DVDs of previous seasons
- Many more download (via torrent) episodes to catch up, need to ask how they watch these episodes (*)
- Set a DVR to record all episodes of the show as a new season approaches, need to ask if this works and how you watch reruns (*)
A bunch of people had suggestions for more questions to ask which is really helpful in building a set of survey questions or general knowledge to gain about this area. Feel free to send these kinds of comments along too.
With this data you can already start to get an understanding of what people how people are watching TV. This is a certain audience of course, only those within the sound of my blog, but as we figure out more of the questions we need to ask we can expand this to ask people who aren’t TV junkies or have anything to do with Open Source (not that all responses so far have been people like that).
A couple people emailed me and jumped right into the brainstorming of what we can code to create a new DVR or whatever. It’s good start thinking of things like that, but we want to wait until we have more of the facts about what’s good and what’s bad for people who watch TV. Email me with your television viewing habits now, later we should bounce ideas back and forth.
I’m trying hard to stick to this design process which I promised I’d explain later, right now our step 1 was defining, which is up for debate as well. I put “Killerization of the living room”, if you think that sucks as a goal let me know another way to phrase it. Our second step 2 is researching our goal, what people are doing, what technology exists, what’s happening in the market right now. What trends exist and are fading away will all shape what you want to brainstorm about in order to solve the problems we see or create experiences that we think are missing. Rock on.