Deborah D. McAdams /
HPA 2013: Watching the Watcher
1-3-9 Labs observes viewers
INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. – It’s
one proposition to look at numbers when evaluating viewer metrics. It’s another
one entirely to view the viewers themselves. That’s what 1-3-9 Labs in East
Sussex, England, does. The lab captures viewing on “all screens,” according to
principle Sarah Pearson. Behaviors are then coded into numerical sequences
overlaid with “ethnographic insights.” Pearson was on hand at this week’s
Hollywood Post Alliance Technology Retreat with a few clips from 1-3-9’s video
observation of the video audience. It wasn’t always pretty.
One clip after another showed viewers slouching on couches with eyes glued to
the TV, or to a laptop, tablet or handheld screen while the TV was on a few
feet away. There was heavy usage of handhelds and laptops especially during
commercials. 1-3-9’s data collection dug into how far away each viewer was from
their device, the response to the content, and who was controlling the remote.
Pearson highlighted viewer data collected during three particular periods—the
2012 London Olympics and post-Olympics viewing in the fall—both from around the
East Sussex area. A U.S. study was done in Connecticut during the 2013 Super
Bowl. 1-3-9 was particularly looking at how people use complementary apps. The
sample households were “hot-housed” with a second-screen app, she said. The
idea was to gather data on a broad-based audience, high-end content, and
In one particular clip from the Olympics, instead of taking to social media,
one viewer jumps up and runs to the kitchen to tell his father, “We got a
Silver!” In another, a roomful of people, both slouching and standing, are
glued to the TV during the Super Bowl.
“Super Bowl is ridiculously engaged by
everyone,” Pearson said.
She provided some general observations from the data.
“The appetite for simultaneous screens around the TV will steady,” she said.
“We think the industry needs to know it will plateau out…. It’s a rare thing…
to have three devices on at the same time.”