What to Watch on the Small Screen? It’s Situational

    by Mark Glaser
    January 26, 2006

    i-231bd50ddf5f02e28fa5c70743b39a40-video iPod Your Take.JPG
    I was sitting on a panel recently in Pasadena for the TV critics press tour, and someone in the audience asked about what people would really watch on the small screen of a cell phone or video iPod. I mentioned what Chris McQueen said on this very weblog, that if you’re in a line somewhere, you’ll watch anything. That brought a lot of laughter from the TV critics.

    Our first Your Take question concerned what kind of video you would watch on a small screen. You all gave some interesting feedback not only on what you would watch, but how small-screen video could be improved in its delivery. But first, let’s start with Chris and his important point that what you would watch depends on your situation. (On this panel, the TV execs were soon talking about the situational factor as an important one, so look at the clout you wield, Chris!)

    “I find people obsess with form and function, but often fail to account for situation,” Chris wrote. “The example here is ‘What kind of video would I watch on a small screen?’ I ask, ‘Where am I?’ If I’m in an endless line at the airport, I’ll probably watch whatever I can. If I’m in the living room at home, I’m going to be more critical of the material.”


    Others mentioned that they would prefer short news reports, because all you’d have to see is a talking head on the screen. Fans also spoke up for the RocketBoom video blog, which is in the TV news anchor format.

    “I would watch almost any TV show on the small screen,” wrote Aaron. “As for movies, they would have to be movies that do not rely on special effects or dramatic scenes that could get lost in a small screen. I would like to have the ability to watch short newscasts from CNN, the BBC, or the CBC.”

    There’s no doubt that all the big TV news services will offer some sort of report for small devices. Some of you were not keen on a lot of advertising on these small devices, but also didn’t want to pay a lot for the content.


    Wright State University lecturer Maggie Veres mentioned a real innovative use for video content on iPods. “We have just begun a course which uses the video iPod to deliver lectures, articles and course information to the participants,” she wrote. “So far, it has been easy to follow using the iPod. The lectures are much more interesting with the video to support the information. I find the screen to be very clear and easy to see even without my glasses!”

    And finally we got a reality check from Erik, who noted that adult content would be the big seller on video iPods. “Let’s get real,” he wrote. “The biggest seller for video on an iPod is going to be porn. Like everything else on the Net, it will be driven initially by porn. Not by me though.” Of course not!

    In the U.S., video on small devices is relatively novel, but in countries like Japan and South Korea, it’s a more common practice. Do you think Americans will change their ways? Will it take special content just for the small screen? Bang the Comments below and let us know.

    [If you want to read all the comments on Your Take, go here.]

    Tagged: ipod movies television video

    3 responses to “What to Watch on the Small Screen? It’s Situational”

    1. Carl says:

      I would prefer to view short video clips on the small screen. The content would vary from the jib-jab type shorts to news clips to instructional video.

      But no matter what the content, the device is really going to matter. I cannot imagine watching anything for very long on an iPod. It’s not my attention span. It’s how long I can hold the iPod in front of my face. The perfect length for small-screen video is timed to end just before fatigue hits my arm.

    2. I really love portable video-player watching tv or a movie while waiting for the bus, for example, but honestly you cant really compare it to a normal tv or a beamer. But indeed its just like you said: it is situational what you are watching on a small screen. nice blog! greetz

    3. Thus, some videos downloaded from YouTube, which are usually very pleasant to watch on the iPod’s small screen, are almost unwatchable on the iFlip — in some cases sharp contrast is exaggerated, in others the images are much too pixilated, and in others the colors are washed out.

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