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Still the Center of It All

TV is on its way out, right? Gen Z likes to watch content on their phones and tablets, or so the pundits tell us. Not so fast.

Televisions sure look good for their age.

It was in the middle of the last century when their large cabinets and tiny screens took over living rooms, becoming the centerpiece of family entertainment. Screens got bigger, cabinets got smaller, and color was introduced. Then came a wealth of content sources — cable boxes, VCRs, DVDs — and picture quality kept getting better and better (and better).

Then, in the past few years, TVs got smart, with access to a tremendous amount of streaming content built right into them, along with the ability to be added to an ecosystem that could control many of the devices around it. And manufacturers added AI capabilities that are used to increase picture quality in ways those early viewers of I Love Lucy could hardly imagine.

But TVs are on their way out, right? Gen Z likes to watch content on their phones and tablets, or so the pundits tell us.

I would not be so quick to write the venerable “boob tube” (now tubeless) off. I recently returned from CES 2024, where the newest television models from companies such as Samsung, LG, Hisense, and TCL all drew a ton of attention in a space where it was competing against flying cars and a smart indoor smoker. (The latter is from GE, and I really want one.)

Plus, check out this slide from the CES Trends to Watch session:

CES Tech Trends – TV in the Smart Home
Source: CTA

Yes, the television is once again expected to be the centerpiece of the home, offering more capabilities than ever before.

As for Gen Z and their tiny screen preferences, I can only offer my own experience: When the kids were younger, we gathered around the living room television set to watch their favorite programs or play video games together. As they became teenagers, they spent more time in their rooms than watching TV with us, but that was more because of a need for privacy and parental avoidance than a love of small screens.

I can’t imagine that they will not want a screen to share with friends and families when it comes time to own a space of their own. At least I hope so, as there is not much of a business in wall-mounting phones and tablets for viewing.

Within our industry, we can easily see the strength of televisions in the jobs that are spec’d and completed. In our “2023 State of the Industry” report, TVs were the number 2 product category spec’d in won bids, only behind speakers, and you need a lot more of them per job than you do televisions.

Plus, they are more versatile than ever, being able to be mounted flush to walls, hidden completely, or turned into glorious works of art between screening the week’s football games.

Not bad for something that’s been hanging out in homes for more than 70 years. We should all age so well!