Poor use of a multimedia device

By | July 16, 2008

According to Parks Associates’ Digital Media Habits II report, people are increasingly using their TVs to play music at home. The report was based on a Q3 2007 survey of 2,000 broadband households in the US and Canada.

The survey found that the number of households using a TV to listen to music equalled the number of households using MP3 players at home to listen to music. Furthermore, at-home music listening through portable game players, game consoles, or cellphones was reported by only 10 percent or less of households.

Poor use of a multimedia device 1This led Parks Associates research director John Barrett to conclude: “iPods are sexy, but not everybody has one. TVs are ubiquitous and increasingly capable of delivering a range of content, especially with new features like digital music delivery and place-shifting services.”

Sorry, but I don’t agree with the analysis. Would TVs be as ubiquitous or as mobile as iPods on an individual level? No. You can’t use the TV as your personal music player, unless you’re the head of the household (even that’s a moot point – those with kids will understand). And you don’t (and certainly can’t) carry the TV around with you if you want to listen to music on the move, even within the confines of your house, unless you have no intention to skip music tracks and adjust the volume from time to time.

Besides, I would presume that when you listen to music using your TV, you are unlikely to be watching a TV programme at the same time (I’m saying “unlikely” because there are people who like to reminisce about the good old days of silent movies). This is not the case with listening to music using a PC, which offers users the flexibility to perform non-audio functions simultaneously. Validation: about two-thirds of the surveyed respondents regularly use a PC to play music at home, compared to one-third who use a TV for the same purpose.

The same logic explains the low response rate for portable game players and game consoles. For cellphones, however, it’s a different matter as these devices are not normally associated with music listening, especially at home where better options are available. Here again, the iPod has a distinct advantage with the proliferation of docking stations and home audio systems with iPod docks.

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