The Rise of the viewing party

Shared TV experiences are bringing people closer together

by Alice Ramsden de Gomez, Product Manager, Epson (UK)

Back in May, the United Kingdom did really, really badly at the Eurovision Song Contest but despite being in last place, millions of people still watched. Much of that viewing took place at parties, where friends and family had gathered to enjoy the big event together. In fact, Eurovision parties are now such a ‘thing’ that even The Telegraph published a guide to hosting the perfect Eurovision event in front of the telly.

Meanwhile, fans of cheesy pop music are not alone. According to viewing figures, during 2018 almost every man, woman and child in the UK watched a live sporting event – that’s 97% of the population. Whilst sport has long been a bastion of shared TV, first showings of popular films, streamed concerts and Christmas specials are also making their way up the list of popular communal viewing.

Continuing this trend, major hit TV series now even draw an audience (especially when they require paid subscriptions, like Amazon Prime, Sky or Netflix). Game of Thrones, Stranger Things and Chernobyl are three recent examples that have inspired friends to gather around their screens, turning everyday viewing into a social event – and saving money as a result.

Bringing families closer together

In today’s multi-screen world, parents often worry about the amount of time their children spend alone using devices, rather than relaxing as part of the family. When almost anything with a screen can double as a TV – tablets, phones, desktop computers – there is something rather heartening about this. The way we consume TV has definitely changed, but when something important happens, we still gather around the screen with others to celebrate the experience. So it makes sense to optimise this shared experience, through high quality and immersive viewing options.

In fact, recent research has revealed that shared TV experiences can help bring people, and families, together. 82 per cent of parents spend most of their family leisure time watching films or TV with their kids at home, whilst nearly three-quarters of UK parents agree that the living/family room is integral to quality time spent together as a family.  

Changing demographics, changing habits

The notion of the ‘family TV’ has changed, but there is still a clear demand from families and friendship groups for shared viewing. Whilst huddling round a TV or screen is the ideal night in for some, sometimes the standard-issue TV set-up simply isn’t tempting enough to draw the device-users into the group.

This is where fans and TV enthusiasts could benefit from a more immersive viewing experience – for example, a home cinema projector, which delivers high contrast colour ratios for rich detail in both bright and dark scenes.

For example, Game of Thrones fans were outraged (and full of memes) when, in episode three of the latest season, watchers took to social media to slam the lighting for being too dark – prompting a wave of media coverage and baffled cinematographers. 

Another point to bear in mind is that more and more broadcasts are now streamed – the number of Brits using more than one streaming service has rocketed 40% in the past year.  With the advent of 5G, it is now faster and easier than ever to download films and video in 4K (and in time, 8K) – but making sure you have a TV that can cope, without breaking the bank every time there’s a technological advance, is more of a problem.

With a projector, streaming can be made slightly easier as specialist software enable users to stream and project from their device, whether its from a phone, tablet or PC without requiring cables or a network connection. 

Projectors are the ideal solution for shared viewing

At the moment, relatively few households use projectors to watch television, but recognised trends in viewing, along with huge advances in projector and streaming technology, suggest that will change. 

Projectors (particularly portable ones, that can project onto almost any surface and in almost any direction, even in daylight) allow families and friends to share a superb quality, cinematic viewing experience without any of the hassles caused by conventional TVs. 

With modern projectors, it is possible to project live TV broadcasts, and anything shown online, which makes them highly convenient for streaming content as well as watching live ‘event’ TV, and many models can be moved around freely with no need for fixed wires or formal installation. That makes projectors an ideal solution for anyone renting a home, or moving home, or anyone who simply wants to watch their favourite movie, programme, event, in any room of their house on the big screen. 

With projectors, users have greater freedom to scale the picture and have the ability to project either onto a fixed/retractable/portable screen or a suitable wall space, for less cost. For many families across the UK, it may come as a surprise that a projector is more cost efficient than they first thought, with an average 55” TV costing around £499, which means they are spending £8.47 per inch. Yet a projector that can scale up to 300 inches, also costing  £499, offers better value – as they pay only £1.66 per inch.

In short, projectors are a convenient and affordable way to transform shared viewing into a truly memorable, large-scale and cinematic event – paving the way for the rise of the viewing party.

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Email — paul@morphmagazine.co.uk
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