October 8-12 brought the third incarnation of Digital Atlanta, a weeklong event targeting topics in social & digital media marketing. Attracted by the awesomely affordable registration fee (free, in my case, as I signed up early; $25 for later birds) and impressive lineup of sessions, I joined a healthy number of my greater-Atlanta-based digital media associates in talking all things digital over all types of platforms.
Early in a panel-led discussion on "How Content is Evolving Digital Media," a question was posed to the audience regarding how many in the room did not hold a cable television subscription. Hands rapidly shot up -- a testament to the sea change in traditional media consumption that has left some cable executives a little hot under the collar.
What does this say about consumer behavior? According to a recent Nielsen study, 53% of people between the ages of 18 and 49 choose to view their video content online as opposed to traditional TV. The implication here is that digital media, particularly in regard to television, is transitioning into a highly personalized, choice-driven market.
Thanks to the advent of DVRs; multi-purpose gaming devices; and, of course, the Internet, consumers are more discerning than ever when it comes to when, how, and where they get their content fix. For the majority of the 18-49 demographic, per Nielsen’s study, the video experience has become almost entirely curated – even down to the ads. As one Digital Atlanta attendee offered, “I want to watch what I want to watch; I'm only interested in picking and choosing.”
The nature of a DVR, like its VHS predecessor, provides a simple way to pick and choose programming on an individualized scale. Of course, there's little to replace the familiar comfort of the home TV setup, particularly when it comes to live sports or the local news. Innovations like Boxee, AppleTV and Roku offer an attractive, integrated experience that doesn't necessarily discourage users from dropping traditional TV programming. Forget the WebTV model of yore, these fully integrated, cross-platform devices create a content-rich compromise between traditional and digital media consumption.
Chalk it up to the desire for control in an uncertain world.