CONNECTED TV STILL HAS WORK TO DO
19 October 2011
MediaCom's Carsten Lind assesses the relative importance of technology and content
Tens of millions of new TVs that can be connected to the internet will arrive in consumers' homes over the next few years but the vast majority of them won't ever be used to their full capability.
Connected TVs allow viewers to access the internet as well as watch traditional broadcasts via cable, satellite or aerial. That means owners can watch on-demand services, play games and also receive interactive advertising as well as simply watching the broadcast television that traditional TVs deliver.
Predictions from MI Market Forecast estimate a global Connected TV penetration of 41% by 2013. DisplaySearch reveals that as many as 123 million internet-enabled TVs could be shipped globally in 2014 alone. Most purchasers, however, will simply use the more traditional elements of the televisual experience.
Ultimately, however, the concept is flawed because most families have enough arguments about what to watch already without adding active consumption of the internet into the mix.
The result is that much of the functionality of these new connected TVs will remain unused. Indeed, Forrester's recent study found that only a third of connected TV owners in Europe have even connected their new kit to the internet.
When we recently asked consumers with high internet broadband capabilities in the Nordics on MediaCom's Real World Streets - our qualitative research projects around the world - about connected TVs, even some of those that had access to video on demand and are interested in it had never used it. Many thought it was too technically difficult.
Our families viewed watching TV as a social activity - driven by habit and unique live content. TV was a social experience, social in the sense of wanting to talk about schedule TV such as sports events, series and live shows.
And they wanted to talk not just with those in the room but also wider friends family and co-workers. Their tools for this out of the room conversation were laptop and smartphone. On group viewing occasions, they simply felt that connecting via the big screen in the room was anti-social.
The problem for connected TVs is that while they could have a role in merging the passive viewing experience with the accompanying social experience that we all now enjoy via Facebook and Twitter, what's actually been delivered by manufacturers is an internet experience like the one they get from their PC.
The real benefits of connected TV and the ones that are likely to be used by consumers are those that bring the social experience to life and extend their viewing opportunities.
Rather than bring the internet to the TV screen, manufacturers need to focus on consumers' ability to interact with the content on TV. This could include recommending TV content to friends on social media or voting for contestants in shows.
Ultimately, the killer app could be making video on demand services such as iPlayer and Hulu easier to access and more familiar to a wider audience. By delivering a wider range of programming - assuming everyone can agree on what to watch - to consumers, a clear user benefit could emerge: improved access to more video on demand shows, which can be watched in the traditional way.
Consumers don't care about the technology, what they care about is the quality of content and the ease with which they can access it.
Now who's got the remote control?
Carsten Lind is head of insight EMEA at MediaCom