Panel: Consumers Trail Speeding TV Technology

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CHICAGO -- The recurring theme of a July 25 panel at ad:tech Chicago was that the television industry is ahead of the consumer in both interest and capability.

Technologies discussed were on-demand services, digital television, Internet video, DVR and commercial skipping.

"Our research has shown that consumers don't initially want to spend their money on products like DVR, but once they do, they love it," said Peter Storck, president of Points North Group.

Mr. Storck said that fast forwarding through ads was the feature used most by consumers. Both paid and free on-demand subscriptions are catching on, he said.

However, handheld video capability and interest are still at the low end of the spectrum. Consumers think the screen is too small, the price is too high and the available content is not worth the purchase.

Video across multiple viewpoints also is an emerging issue with the worlds of PC Internet, mobile services and CE Broadcasting converging and overlapping.

"Consumers are clearly pushing as hard as they can, whether legally or illegally," said Tim Hanlon, senior vice president of Denuo. "They don't want to be told by the industry that there are barriers that have to be broken, but the more choice you give them doesn't necessarily translate into nirvana, either."

Mr. Hanlon said that guidance and navigation are important for the industry to focus on. Nothing will be seen if consumers are not directed to it.

Audiences are most interested in ad messages if they are relevant to the content they are already watching, it was noted.

Older audiences are more likely to watch ads. When using their TiVos, 73 percent of the audience watched the ads shown during "60 Minutes" while only 38 percent viewed ads while watching "The Simpsons."

"The future is about seeing less of more," Mr. Hanlon said. "So as an industry we have to be prepared for that."

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