Archive for June, 2012

Phase 6 mini-study: what is the rationale for research into audience behaviour during the Olympics?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

With a plan for Phase 6 of the 1-3-9 Media Lab now in the pipeline, ACB are currently preparing to go into the field with a mini-study during the London Olympics. This is going to precede and inform the main study for Phase 6, providing insights into how highly emotional and engaging TV content drives new behaviour across multiple platforms and connected devices.

There are a number of factors that make the 2012 Olympics a particularly valuable opportunity for future-focused research.

Firstly, it is widely recognised that sports content is likely to drive new and explorative behaviour around technology. When the Sky Go mobile service was launched in July 2011, the application initially provided customers with access to Sky’s sports channels in time for the start of the Premier League football season. Sky cleverly recognised that such high urgency content would drive its sports-obsessed customers to seek out ways to watch on mobile devices so that they didn’t have to miss out on any of the action, which in turn would familiarise the users with the product and encourage word-of-mouth promotion by the time Sky had introduced more channels a few months later. Similarly, ACB predicts that the Olympics will bring out new behaviour in its audience – which will inevitably be much broader than just the usual sports enthusiasts.

It is inevitable that the TV audience for the Olympics will include more than just sports fans because the content has been so heavily marketed. This provides ACB with a second reason to go ahead with the mini-study. The imminence of the Games is something that has become part of the public consciousness, because advertisers and the media – legitimately or otherwise – have been anticipating the event in their products since London was confirmed as the host in 2005. This will have generated enough awareness and discussion that TV audiences are likely to be at the very least curious, and likely highly engaged, with the broadcasting of the event in July.

Thirdly, because the event is taking place locally, and because of the nature of such competitions, emotions are likely to be running high for all who are involved in the Olympics. ACB observed TV audiences watching the Olympics in 2004, and watched as members of the household gradually gravitated around the TV as the race won by British athlete Kelly Holmes reached its victorious conclusion. Even teenagers who seemed disinterested in the TV content at first began cheering on their representative athlete at the race went on. These are the kind of emotional peaks of engagement that ACB is able to capture. Back in 2004, audiences didn’t have the means to share these moments using technology so easily. Now, however, there are tablets, smart phones, and connected televisions – and the latest models of these devices will be present in ACB’s sample during this study. If participants are not inclined to use this technology to extend, enhance, or somehow share these kinds of viewing experiences when they are watching the Olympics, then when will they be? This provides ACB with the opportunity to capture their participants at their most engaged and involved with TV content, to see how it is that they make use of the technology available to them to make the most of these moments.

Last week, Sarah Pearson presented at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco, where ACB’s research was warmly received. The additional insights drawn from this experience represent the most cutting edge and pertinent research from both the UK and the US, and will be used to enhance and guide ACB’s research as the Olympics study commences in the next few weeks, and beyond into the main study in the Autumn.