The 1980s signalled a turning point in the evolution of leisure, the last generation (specifically millennials) to be born into an analogue childhood and grow up with a digital adulthood.
When Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web 30 years ago, it was the start of the information age (commonly referred to as the digital age), an explosion of technological advances in all industries that ultimately shaped how we interact and consume today.
This is particularly true of TV. The humble television set was once a beacon of family time and ‘togetherness’, bringing people together to spend time watching shows as a collective. Now, the deregulation of life has meant significant shifts in freedom in what we do, when we do it and how we do it. We live in an age of choice, which has seen the average British household own two TVs, and 30 million have some sort of streaming subscription.
TV consumption is in decline, and the nature of what we’re watching is also changing. However, big events, such as Royal weddings and sports events are still viewed in collective masses. No longer bound by a TV schedule, digital has enabled us to live ‘on demand’ lifestyles, consuming film and TV where and when we want – ‘content snacking’ on various devices.
Whilst digital has contributed to the decline in traditional TV viewership, interestingly the biggest threat to TV is the out of home experience. People prefer to enjoy their hobbies and prioritise live experiences over watching TV. The percentage of waking hours spent neither at home or work has been steadily increasing, thanks to the experience economy, the growing trend for people to spend more on ‘experiences’ rather than on commodities. As digital has shaped the way we consume, the experience economy is shaping the future of leisure and ultimately how people choose to spend their time.