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Designing for video: Investigating the contextual cues within viewing situations

journal contribution
posted on 12.06.2014, 12:51 by Kevin Mercer, Andrew May, Val MitchellVal Mitchell
The viewing of video increasingly occurs in a wide range of public and private environments via a range of static and mobile devices. The proliferation of content on demand and the diversity of the viewing situations means that delivery systems can play a key role in introducing audiences to contextually relevant content of interest whilst maximising the viewing experience for individual viewers. However, for video delivery systems to do this, they need to take into account the diversity of the situations where video is consumed, and the differing viewing experiences that users desire to create within them. This requires an ability to identify different contextual viewing situations as perceived by users. This paper presents the results from a detailed, multi-method, user-centred field study with 11 UK-based users of video-based content. Following a review of the literature (to identify viewing situations of interest on which to focus), data collection was conducted comprising observation, diaries, interviews and self-captured video. Insights were gained into whether and how users choose to engage with content in different public and private spaces. The results identified and validated a set of contextual cues that characterise distinctive viewing situations. Four archetypical viewing situations were identified: ‘quality time’, ‘opportunistic planning’, ‘sharing space but not content’ and ‘opportunistic self-indulgence’. These can be differentiated in terms of key contextual factors: solitary/shared experiences, public/private spaces and temporal characteristics. The presence of clear contextual cues provides the opportunity for video delivery systems to better tailor content and format to the viewing situation or additionally augment video services through social media in order to provide specific experiences sensitive to both temporal and physical contexts.



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MERCER, K., MAY, A. and MITCHELL, V., 2014. Designing for video: Investigating the contextual cues within viewing situations. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 18 (3), pp. 723 - 735.


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Closed access. This article was published in the journal, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing [© Springer-Verlag] and the definitive version is available at: