Like vast swathes of the country, I went to the local pub last week to watch England disappoint against Iceland. In terms of action on the pitch, not much has changed from two years ago in Brazil, or two years before that in Iceland - England still flattered to deceive and, arguably, lacked the key ingredient of luck that other sides seem blessed with.
However, away from the big screen, it was apparent that a lot had changed when it comes to the British and football. Looking around the pub, with the match in full swing and England desperately pushing for a winner, it struck me how few people - who had come dressed head to toe in England gear - were actually watching the match! Most were buried in their mobile phones or tablets, participating in what is a revolution in how we watch sport and TV entertainment in general.
Television has come a long way since the last European Championship in 2012. A consumer habits survey released in February showed that only half of all UK individuals classify their TV as the focal point of their living room, with mobile devices connected to the internet now the main point of interaction.
The same survey also revealed that 70% of participants use a connected device while watching something on another. Furthermore, the biometric data from the report claims that, on average, a person watching TV will spend about 60% of the time highly engaged in a non-TV related activity, such as surfing the web on a digital device or talking to someone.
The emergence of second (and even third) screens as part of our viewing behaviour has created a new ecosystem for content developers to tap in to - offering us platforms and information to complement our TV experience. This is why so many eyes were on mobile phones in the pub, and not the expensively erected pub big screen.
Thirst for knowledge
While fans around the country were consuming their drinks as England grappled on the pitch, they were also consuming information via their second screen. Most broadcasters have woken up to this and built websites packed full of additional content, including historical information and facts, forums, competitions and so on. The BBC Sport website is but one example of this.
However, the battle to grab the attention of these viewers - and attract their browsing time and lucrative clicks - has extended beyond the TV stations. Companies from an array of backgrounds have entered the mix, providing applications to enhance viewing experiences or to showcase their technology. One example is independent bookmaker BetVictor providing analysis of when the most goals have been scored (in the 87% minute apparently); another is my company - Qlik. This summer we launched the Qlik European Championships App, offering fans an easy to use, in-depth view of the competition, including results from past tournaments, head-to-heads between nations, top scorers. With a few clicks, information that a few years ago would only be possessed by the most knowledgeable of fans, can be summoned and introduced to important debates by the bar. Did you know that England had a 64% chance of beating Slovakia? Or that Gary Neville is the most capped Englishman at European Championships (with 11 appearances)?
The potential spreads far beyond major football tournaments. Qlik has also applied its platform the Six Nations and Formula 1, providing fans with previously unavailable levels of statistical information. Away from sport, the software was used to create a Eurovision app that allowed users to pull out insights around the European Song Contest, and predict future trends and winners.
Social TV viewing
There are some who will bemoan the addition of more screens to our lives as another nail in the coffin for discourse and socialising. However, you can argue the opposite is true. The ecosystem of applications that has sprung up to provide multi-platform entertainment allows fans to share their thoughts, insights and feelings in more ways than ever.
As with all areas of technology, things are moving fast. Companies at the forefront of the new era of television will have to stay on their toes, as trends such as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence develop and reach the mainstream - further changing how we consume sport and entertainment shows.
This constant evolution provides countless opportunities for companies from all sectors to apply their expertise or technology and continually improve the viewing experience for users hungry for greater knowledge and more ways share it.
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