Tiny screen or massive screen: a 2021 perspective

This blog has been going since 2007 and in that time there have been roughly 10,000 articles. With such a large amount of content, there are bound to be some favorites. One of my personal favorites is this one, entitled “Tiny screen or massive screen… who wins?”

This article, written in 2016, came at a time when we were still looking at the impact that new generations would have on television. Today, five years later, I wouldn’t say things are set in stone. I would say that we have a better idea of the direction we’re going.

What didn’t happen

One of the concerns back then was that phones would take over completely, decimating not only the television industry but the entire idea of communal viewing. That didn’t happen. There’s plenty of opportunity for people to watch on their devices, but families still gather in the living room. Challenges we never foresaw have meant the rise of online viewing parties, which have become a whole new way to enjoy content separately and together at the same time.

What did happen

Back in 2016, we didn’t have any reason to imagine that movie theaters would be closed for over a year in some areas. While we didn’t really see phones or TVs dominate in the past few years, the one things that’s clear is that gigantic movie screens and the movie-going experience are right on the edge of disappearing. The increase in at-home viewing has driven renewed interest in high-end home theater. If you can’t watch on a truly big screen, you’ll at least want to watch on a screen that’s as big and as nice as possible.

Where are things going?

The one thing that’s become clear is that “personal viewing” isn’t going to threaten “communal viewing.” Yes, the days when the entire family got together in the living room to watch the same show are over. But those days were over long ago. They may have never really existed to the degree that we remember them. For most of us, our lives have included VCRs, video games, and even multiple televisions. The idyllic notion of family viewing was only a small part of the way we spent our off hours.

Today, everyone has a high-definition screen in their hand and can get any program they want from anywhere. But, there are times and places when we want that living room screen. It may not be on constantly as perhaps it once was, but it still has a place. Modern streaming apps make it easier than ever to start watching on one device and continue on another, and that gives new life to the TV experience.

More and more, I find myself exploring content on one screen and watching it on another. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve found a video on my phone and then shared it with someone else in the home on my TV. There have been an equal number of times I’ve felt like I missed something on a first watching and I’ve gone back and rewatched it on my phone. It’s turned into a whole “ecosystem” and that’s a good thing.

Younger generations are even less tethered to that living room screen. There are still times they still gravitate to it the same way we did. The living room TV may no longer rule the home, but it’s not going anywhere.

At least that’s my perspective now. Ask me in another five years.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.