DUBAI // Sometimes, watching just one television at a time isn't enough.
That's the conclusion an increasing number of households will be coming to very soon, according to technology researchers who say they have identified a new trend.
Dual Video Screening is when individuals or groups watch TV on two or more screens in the same room at the same time, and the researchers believe its popularity will surge this year - particularly in countries with large average household sizes, such as the UAE.
"The impact of large household sizes on Dual Video Screening is simple," says a Deloitte report launched in Dubai yesterday. "Just one television stream may be insufficient for the person or people in the room.
"It is sometimes difficult to agree on what to watch. One solution is to watch two separate programmes and that is most easily achieved on two screens."
The forecast is contained in a report called Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2013 Middle East. It notes the average size of a household in Saudi Arabia is 5.8 people, significantly higher than in Europe.
"There are also variations across ethnicities," the study adds. "In the UAE, for example, the average size of a household is 4.2 but across Emirati households there are more than six members in each."
The launch of the report was hosted by Dubai Media City. Paul Lee, a research director at Deloitte, raised laughter from the audience when he said: "If you spend time together you have to have a harmonious time together, so it's best not to talk. So what you do instead is you watch television."
He said the phenomenon was boosted by last summer's Olympic Games, as in some countries many different sports were broadcast on different channels simultaneously. Some families moved every TV set they owned into the living room so they could follow as many events as possible at the same time.
However, Clare Smart, a counsellor at Dubai's LifeWorks centre who specialises in helping young people, said that trying to follow two or more TV shows at the same time would impair the development of concentration skills in some children.
"Sitting as a family and watching something together is a shared, bonding experience," she said. "But if people are in the same room watching different things it's not really the same experience, that would be a downside to it."
Another prediction in the report is that a new type of high definition TV called Ultra HD or 4K, which offers four times higher resolution than current top of the range sets, will start appearing this year.
Mr Lee said: "Up until last year I would have characterised 4K as an experiment, something which people knew they could do but it wasn't commercial.
"What we think for this year is it's becoming very commercial."
The study warns that viewers here may face a long wait for the improved service.
"In the region, equipment manufacturers are the only ones creating a buzz around 4K, while broadcasters and distributors are yet to be convinced," it says. "For Ultra HD to take off, satellite broadcasters and pay-TV operators would need to embrace it. The largest pay-TV operator in the region, OSN, is adopting a wait-and-watch approach."
The report also warns that early adopters who have invested in another new technology - Connected TV sets that have inbuilt internet access - may have wasted their money.
Mr Lee said better results could be had by buying a simple cable.
"If you want to do Connected TV and you have Wi-Fi, broadband and a laptop, all you need to do is buy a cable to connect your TV set to your laptop.
"You would effectively have everything which you can do with a Connected TV, only it works a lot better than a set with connectivity built in. The connectivity will be higher quality, and the processor in the laptop will be higher quality than what you get in a TV set."
* The article has been amended since it was first published to make it clear that Deloitte are the authors of the report.