The living room used to be the TV room. The place where "all the family" converged for news and prime time programs. In the US, during the seventies, the Viet-Nam War was called a "living-room war" since it took place every evening in America's living room, on the TV screen.
Now, not only is TV viewership fragmented into many channels and video sources, but family viewership is scattered throughout many places: bedrooms, garage, kitchen, basement, living room. Among these different places, the bedroom seems to take pride of place.
|Source: Nielsen Wire, May 17, 2012. Unfortunately, this statistics does not take Out-of-Home into account.|
This data would be even more convincing if all screens were taken into account (tablets and video games, smartphones and computers), as we have noticed with teenagers in the UK. The cause is probably not only digital media, it is first and foremost the consequence of teenagers' lifestyles. They want to be left alone, even if they are reading or doing homework.
All media follow the same trend as radio: they start in one room and little by little conquer other living spaces. At the same time, the cost of measurement increases along the line proportionately from a single audimeter (set meter) to a number of personal (people) meters as well as surveys that need to be "merged" for the advertising strategy.
"Where does the receiver go", asks the magazine Better Homes and Gardens in 1949. From its beginning on, and for many decades, TV was supposed to bring families together: "a kind of miniature clubhouse for a little family group". In the 80s', the TV set became "the home theater".
Now TV is entering a new era: it is everywhere. Paradoxically, watching TV is becoming less of a live social experience, it is becoming more of a virtual social experience.
One way or another, TV is social....
Michael J. Arlen, Living-room War, 1982, Penguin, 242p.
Lynn Spigel, Make Room For TV. Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1992, 236 p. Index