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Connected experiences which seamlessly fuse second screens and connected TVs have been ‘the future of TV’ for so long it almost feels like a returning series.

Playing along with a quiz show, requesting a product sample during an advert, taking a breakfast news feature with you on your morning commute so you can finish watching, all could be routine.

But despite the enablers and technology being in place this seismic shift in the viewing experience stubbornly refuses to go mainstream. Why is this?

There are three dimensions to the failure of connected TV and second screen to live up to the excitement and visions they have generated: the consumer, the broadcast industry and connected device technology.

My new white paper examines these dimensions in depth, but the following summary gives a sense of the breadth of issues:

  • Consumers brought up on a passive, linear TV experience show ingrained lean-back behaviour.
  • The broadcast industry can be risk averse and ambivalent about commissioning multiplatform formats.
  • Rights and Compliance are based on older more risk-averse models, hindering the development of much needed new models. 
  • A successful second-screen monetisation model has yet to be established.
  • Lack of standard advertising industry metrics for second screen engagement obstruct advertising revenues from flowing into the second screen sector and Social TV.
  • A lack of metadata standards makes video search and discovery difficult. 
  • The sheer range of operating systems, browsers and form factors across devices make it very expensive to develop truly multiplatform applications with the widest reach.
  • Smart TV user experience is improving incrementally, but a breakthrough pattern is needed to inspire a mainstream shift as touchscreens did with smartphones.

Yet our futures are surely connected. There are proven consumer needs, which are already being partially satisfied by different providers, and a growing appetite to consume and engage with TV content in different contexts.

Despite the range of obstacles, none are insurmountable.

To rollout an oft-used phrase one more time…

"The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed." William Gibson.

To get a glimpse of the future, we need just look around... In the UK, 18 to 24 year olds are three times more likely to comment on shows via second screen than 55 to 65 year olds.

Sky and Microsoft provide consumers with the opportunity to shift their viewing from big screen to second screen with Sky Go and Smartglass, Channel 4 plans to follow suit with an updated 4oD product in 2013.

Facebook and Twitter are both developing Social TV metrics with Nielsen aimed at advertisers. Sky and Channel 4 have planned releases of advertising products for targeted and addressable advertising.

A recent complaint by the FTC against HTC in the US related to security issues, and their agreed settlement, could mark the first step towards Android defragmentation.

Smart TVs and second screens are fuelling video consumption rather than cannibalising it, which is great news for broadcasters. But audiences are increasingly ignoring their curated, schedule-driven channels as content becomes disintermediated.

To remain relevant, broadcasters will need to provide utility beyond commissioning and curating content.

Just as much of today’s online activity begins with search, expect tomorrow’s connected TV experiences to begin with a search and discovery engine, capable of surfacing the most relevant content from anywhere in the world, supporting an interactive Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), and accessed on any device. 

There is a great opportunity in this space right now to experiment with new models, which use broadcasters’ existing data sets, and test these with consumers to establish an app as ubiquitous as Google search is today.

Ease of use and supporting familiar behaviours will be essential elements of its success, and the quality of the consumer experience will be as important as the effectiveness of the technological execution for mass adoption.

The Fluxx white paper looks at these issues in more detail It has been drawn up for the benefit of broadcasters, content producers, agencies, device manufacturers, brands and retailers with media interests. 

Tony Duarte

Published 14 March, 2013 by Tony Duarte

Tony Duarte is senior media consultant at fluxx ltd and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Tony on Google Plus or connect via LinkedIn

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