Some of us grew up with only one screen – the TV screen. In Indonesia until the late 80s, there was only one national, government-owned TV station that graced the airwaves, which we watched dutifully since there was nothing else to watch. Having the TV on was somewhat of a necessity, whether or not we watched anything – it somehow connected us to the world, even if it was only one way (and any content was tamed first by the government). Even for those fortunate to own videotape players, you had to choose: watch TV, or watch a videotape.
Most people nowadays carry at least one screen, their mobile phone, in their pocket. Another would be a desktop computer at home or at the office, a laptop, or even a tablet. Some invest in special game devices, some with their own screens. And TVs have become comparatively cheap compared to 25 years ago, so there would be at least be more than one television set in an average middle-income house in Jakarta.
The TV also has so many options for content input – terrestrial TV, cable TV, satellite TV, DVD players, Blu-Ray players, IPTV, and so on. Even mobile phones have long expanded beyond their namesake and can play a variety of video and audio content, and games also. And let’s not forget the cinema screen. We have been in the multiple screen era for some time.
The unfortunate thing is, a ‘multiple screen strategy’, for some content owners, means simply making sure the same content is available for any format, for any device. For instance, let’s say ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is made available for phones, tablets, TV, cinemas, computers, at the same time – but is it suitable for each device? I wouldn’t want to watch a 2.5 hour movie on a phone screen. Reversely, a short 5-minute movie might not interest cinemagoers. Every ‘screen’ has inherent properties, with differing aspects for use and social angles, which would require a different approach for each device.
We’ve all been there before – looking at our phones or playing games while watching TV, sending tweets while watching a movie, and browsing on our computer while replying instant messages on our phone. Multi-screen, indeed – but a multiple screen strategy goes beyond that.
A very good presentation here outlines strategies for multiple screens. It’s pretty basic and outlines most of the existing scenarios for multiple screen strategies, but what it doesn’t give you is how to creatively construct an entertainment product that is optimum for multiple screens.
This, of course, will depend on what the initial content is all about, but it will also depend on what core entertainment product will be offered. Is it a movie? Is it a game? Is it a website? Or even a toy/merchandise line? Or even better, will it be something different for every screen, but interlinked and intertwined?
By optimizing your product for more screen sizes, there’s a greater likelihood it will create a revenue stream for you – but it also needs to follow price tiering, to make sure there’s something for everybody. If the engagement is rewarding enough at a cheap or free level, those that want more will be more than happy to upgrade their experience. Pair that with an offering for every screen, and you’d have a bigger chance on having a hit on your hands.
Ario is a co-founder of Ohd.io, an Indonesian music streaming service. He worked in the digital music industry in Indonesia from 2003 to 2010, and recently worked in the movie and TV industry in Vietnam. Keep up with him on Twitter at @barijoe or his blog on http://barijoe.wordpress.com.