Rethinking The TV Experience

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For years, television was a necessarily passive medium for viewers. Technology drew a sharp line between content production and consumption. Recent trends toward widespread mobile devices and user-generated content provide new opportunities to re-examine TV’s role in society. Topics such as the future of content for mobile device and pervasiveness of media in the urban environment will change how people access and deliver information.

No longer content to lean back and accept television programming as it is presented, the modern viewer expects to be able to interact with what they see on-screen. Ubiquitous mobile devices give viewers the ability to take TV consumption and production into their own hands. Working with RAI New Media–Italian Public Broadcasting–the Mobile Experience Lab is examining current trends in broadcast, online, and mobile TV to find opportunities that can be used to shape future TV experiences.

Beginning with a student workshop in the fall of 2008, the Mobile Experience Lab identified a number of areas where mobile devices and television can intersect. Technological advances will allow for a new era of participatory journalism, where citizens collaborate with broadcasters to cover and disseminate news content. Entertainment programming can involve audiences in new ways, such as multiple story-lines. Through concepts like location-based content, broadcasters can give tourists new ways to participate in local cultures. Food programming can change as mobile devices can accompany viewers to the store and kitchen. Finally, ubiquitous access to information, mediated by TV broadcasters, can help viewers make more environmentally sustainable decisions.

The Mobile Experience Lab is in the process of collating and synthesizing ideas generated during the workshop with the goal of generating a prototype in 2009. The final results will be of use not only to RAI New Media, but also any broadcaster who seeks new opportunities provided by the leading edge of technology.