Are We Nearing the End of the Couch Potato Era?
I love television.
Coming home, flopping on the sofa and getting into a few episodes of True Detective feels really good. And being in the midst of the oft-discussed Golden Age of Television means there’s never a shortage of great stuff to watch. But thanks to smart technology, near ubiquitous Wi-Fi, and social networking apps, what was once a passive, slacker experience has become an active endeavor. We’ve gone from a nation of couch potatoes to becoming couch – I don’t know – couch engagers?
Watching TV has become a multi-tasking experience. And while this isn’t a brand new phenomenon (for a few years now, couch engagers like me have been something of a media curiosity – a vocal minority), just-released data from Nielsen reveals we’re closing in on becoming the majority.
Americans on average own four digital devices and they’re putting them to full use no matter what they’re doing. 66 percent of tablet users now surf the Internet while watching TV. Of those, 41 percent are actively looking up show information and nearly one-third report connecting online with friends about programs they’re watching. As the competition for eyeballs is greater than ever, these couch engagers are establishing themselves as the all-new consumer prototype.
TV Everywhere expectations have also hastened the end of the couch potato. With two-thirds of Americans now owning a smartphone, the ability to take media anywhere has enabled us couch engagers to move the TV experience completely out of the living room. Now we’re park-bench engagers.
None of this is to say the days of vegging out in front of the TV are over – far from it. Any good couch engager knows that what makes the future of TV and technology amazing is the ability to choose how we want to watch. Sometimes I want to tweet my way through Shark Week, other times I want to sit back and take in whatever AMC is serving up. Both are the perfect way to watch. The couch engager is all about choice.
Being a part of cultural shifts like the one happening to TV is a lot of fun. It’s an opportunity to be an architect in the future of entertainment and technology. It’s a chance to re-define how we relax and enjoy free time. And it’s the perfect excuse to coin a new phrase that perfectly encapsulates what watching TV now means.