20060720

From Couch Potatoes to French Fries - World Cup and Giant Screens - the new mass media

Flat screens didn't wait for the World Cup to defeat old cathodic tubes, but the clear winner of the competition could be the Giant Screen.
TV operators now enjoy new channels and propose an extreme customer experience : as the main public media, TV follows the event down to the streets and stadia and while couch potatoes remain stuck on their sofas, masses now stand up in public places like French Fries in cornets. The phenomenon even overshadowed such traditional semi-private diffusion sites as restaurants and bars.
Giant screens really became mainstream during the 2002 World Cup in Korea, when millions would hit the streets to follow the great campaign of the Taeguk Warriors. Back in 1998, public events would just gather a few thousands souls (ie in front of Paris' city hall). For the 2006 edition, which took place over 1,000 kms away, Parisians would flock by tens of thousands in the Parc des Princes, Jean-Bouin and Charlety stadia. Simultaneously. In a city where organizers traditionally avoid cannibalization among sportive / cultural events. And Germany itself enjoyed a new phenomenon : hundreds of thousands of ticketless foreign supporters took their cars, trains and planes just to join these giant screen parties (and that beer, too, maybe...).
Under such conditions, the battle between smaller screens (PC vs TV) looks almost trivial... and the very little screens have to position themselves a new way. Handsets can help the TVless supporter following games live or goal by goal, but they also remain the personal tool of individuals as well as small group of users for coping with a mass of supporters located either on the same spot or accross the globe. I guess by 2010 cellcos will package some solutions for such public game sessions the way they do now for music concerts.
During this World Cup, they noticed a very weak traffic during the games, but incredibly hot flashes during the breaks and at the end of the games, for voice as well as for data. For them, here lies the dilemma : if I get the rights for the event I have to invest heavily in order to cope with time and space peaks, and if I don't get them my network is as good as dead during one month...



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