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The BBC wants to know how big your TV is and how far away you sit

The BBC has launched a Tomorrow’s World-style mass experiment to find out how our TV-viewing experience has changed in the past 10 years.

The Beeb is encouraging everyone who uses its TV services to answer an online survey to help it plan the technical parameters for new services like connected TV, on-demand and 4K.

You’ll need a tape measure to answer questions including how big your TV is, how far away from the TV you sit, what size TV you’ll buy next and whether you use it for broadcasts, streaming or gaming, as well as what genres of content you watch.

How far do you sit from the TV?
How far do you sit from the TV?

BBC R&D said: “Factors such as the viewing distance can change the perceived quality of the picture, for example if you’re too close to the screen the individual pixels will become visible, making the image less realistic.

“It is therefore important for us to obtain accurate information that reflects the general public’s viewing habits, so that we can take this into consideration when deciding technical parameters for new services.”

Future BBC services likely to benefit from the research include the ongoing development of the iPlayer streaming service, the Connected Red Button, and improving the quality of its broadcasts to support 4K when there are enough Ultra HD TVs in UK homes.

The BBC last collected such information in 2004, when plasma technology had just become mainstream, average screen sizes were under 32in, HD services were two years away from launching on Sky or the BBC, and the five-year Digital Switchover had yet to begin.

The recommended distance from your screen with HD is 2.5 times the diagonal screen size, but with 4K the decreased pixel size of 4K TVs, this reduces to around twice the screen size.

The BBC has carried out a lot of research in recent months to find out more about its viewers. In June, the Beeb’s Insights Team at BBC Worldwide started working with startup CrowdEmotion to track some viewer reactions to a selection of its programs including Sherlock and Top Gear. The BBC will use the results of that study to plan its future programming.

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