Watching in Public: Understanding Audience Interaction with Big Screen TV in Urban Spaces

Watching in Public: Understanding Audience Interaction with Big Screen TV in Urban Spaces

Kenton O’Hara (CSIRO ICT Centre, Australia) and Maxine Glancy (BBC, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-656-3.ch015
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Abstract

In this chapter the authors present a field study of BBC Big Screens Public Space Broadcasting initiative. Under this initiative, large screens have been installed in several urban locations across the United Kingdom and used to screen a range of television content and interactive applications. The chapter discusses a number of different findings and themes. These include different types of screen use such as viewing of standard television content, event-based use of the screens and interactive use of the screen. The chapter then goes on to discuss the content in relationship to its placement in a particular local context. Following this, the chapter looks at how architectural features shape the way the screens are used and impact on audience behaviour. Finally the authors explore issues of health and safety that impact on content choice and pragmatics of scheduling.
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Study

The study comprised a series of observations and interviews conducted across different cities where a BBC Big Screen was located. The interviews and observations took place over a period of several weeks during the summer of 2007. The sites studied were Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford and Birmingham (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.

The Big Screens at (a) Birmingham, (b) Bradford, (c) Manchester, (d) Leeds

Observations at the different sites were conducted at various different times of the day, on different days of the week. The observations primarily focused around people’s behaviour within the immediate vicinity of the screens but some more general observations were also conducted to get a sense of the surrounding area within which the screens were immersed. In conducting our observations, the aim was to get a sense of what people were doing in and around the space where the screens were located and any ways the screen and content played a role in shaping these behaviours.

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