Research Driven Design “Aesthetics Matter”

A look at the “Near – Future” of Viewer Preferences and Broadcast Design.

As mentioned in yesterday’s Post “NAB 2013 – Has Virtual’s Time Arrived” there were more “Virtual” Equipment Manufacturers at NAB last year than there were Scenic Designers, and there was quite a bit of Buzz around the Virtual Topic.

During the show we polled General Managers, News Directors and Engineers with the question, “Are you ready to go Virtual” and the responses were similar “No, it’s too fake”, “No, we deliver Real News and it’s just not believable”, or “Maybe, for Sports or Entertainment, but not News”.

We knew from our previous Magid study that the top two reasons Viewers choose to watch a particular Local Newscast are Accuracy / Reliability, and Believability / Trustworthiness.

We felt that 3 D Digital Sets and Virtual Sets when done well could meet these criteria and should be one of the prime focus’ for our Study; we wanted to find out if Viewers would find 3 D Digital or Virtual Realistic? Would they Trust a Newscast that used 3 D Digital or Virtual Sets? Could they even prefer a 3 D Digital or Virtual Set when compared to a Real Set?

The answer to these questions was a resounding Yes, but with a caveat, the Design must be high resolution and highly detailed, and for the most part be a Design that doesn’t take you to “Uncanny Valley”.


Here are a few of the findings:

When comparing Digital Sets to Real Sets

  1. A well-designed highly detailed 3 D Digital set was the overall preference by a nearly 20% margin and compared equally with the Real Set for Realism, Trust and Believability.
  2. A 2 D Digital Design was easily differentiated by the Viewer and lost by a margin of nearly 6:1 for Trust and Believability.
  3. The Virtual Set lost on Realism but was actually chosen as the set that made the Newscast Believable and Trustworthy.

In addition to 3 D Digital and Virtual we did comparisons of Lighting, Motion Design and on Screen Touch Screen and Tablet Technology, here are a few takeaways on those topics:

  1. When it comes to Studio Lighting, Viewers prefers sharp crisp lighting and feel that it enhances the Newscasts Anchors and Graphics by a 2:1 MARGIN.
  2. For Motion Design:
    1. When watching in 4:3 Viewers preferred a simple uncluttered Graphics Package
    2. When watching in 16:9 viewers found additional graphics in the wings more informative.
    3. When comparing Touch Screens and Tablets for controlling Graphics on Screen it was overall a Tie.
      1. The Touchscreen did lose Viewer attention each time the Presenter turned their back to the camera.

Additional Findings:

  1. HD Penetration has surpassed the 80% mark up from 66% in 2008
  2. Nearly two thirds of local news viewers use a 2nd Screen when they watch Local News.
  3. More than a third of Viewers are engaging with your Station while watching the News via a 2nd Screen.
  4. Both of these 2nd Screen behaviors are more likely among the 18 – 34 year old age group.
  5. The top reasons Viewers choose to watch a Local News are still Accuracy, Reliability, Trust, and having Newscasters that are knowledgeable about the Local Area.
  6. Other reasons include Sharp Clear Picture, Clear and Simple to Read Graphics and an Attractive Setting.

To see the study in its entirety please visit us at NAB Booth C-7934 call 407-877-9600 or e-mail for an appointment.

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