The way we access and consume media has been rapidly changing over the past 15 years. The previous solid distinctions that siloed traditional media, such as TV, radio, cinema and video games, have blurred into each other with the advent of technologies such as smartphones, apps, web-streaming and of course, social media. Now you can access Netflix on two of the three major current video games consoles, your smart TV as well as your laptop, smartphone or tablet. You can interact through social media with your favourite radio station or vote in your favourite TV talent show through an app or the web.
Watching TV has never been so exciting…
From the social perspective, technology is now allowing media consumers to quickly and effectively interact with traditional media content creators, whether to offer shining praise or damning criticism. It is also becoming much easier for anyone to create their own media content from the comfort of their own home. Indeed, one can strongly argue that the trends spurring content convergence have also been the driving force behind one of the major pop cultural phenomena of the 2010s – the rise and rise of the ‘influencer’ as a new form of celebrity and cultural authority.
The convergence of traditional forms of audiovisual media and digital platforms has seen much disruption within the traditional media industries. Major national broadcasters are racing to compete with the online streaming services that are increasingly capturing viewers’ attention, time and wallets.
One of the key trends to have recently emerged is that consumers no longer rely on just one screen (the TV screen) for their news and entertainment. Instead, a single viewing can be shared by two (or more) screens – the TV to watch the actual show, the smartphone to trade opinions on the show with friends in real-time and potentially even a third tablet or computer to learn more about the themes or issues being explored in the show. This offers a much more interactive and engrossing experience for the viewer, and this social aspect to media engagement is expected to become even more dominant over the coming years.
In this issue of Research*eu, our special feature highlights seven EU-funded projects that have been tasked with seizing these opportunities and harnessing the positive power of media content convergence through innovation and new technological solutions. One good example of this includes the pioneering of new solutions to open up traditional media to consumers who have previously been unable to access them, specifically individuals with disabilities, such as hearing or sight loss.
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