When two very different industries like traditional broadcast television and digital collide, it’s difficult to ignore the implications on both sides.
While analysts predict that 60% of households will be watching internet TV by 2014 and many companies are trying to capitalise on shifting viewing habits, the connected TV market is still in a nascent stage.
To coincide with the recent release of Econsultancy’s Connected TV Smart Pack, we’ve identified five key elements of this emerging ecosystem that any marketer needs to be aware of.
These are what we call the five Cs of connected TV...
This emerging, hybrid ecosystem is primarily based on the convergence of online and broadcast entertainment on a television screen.
This convergence is generically termed 'connected TV' and most often refers to a wide range of connected devices that provide an internet connection and deliver web content to TV sets, such as set-top boxes, games consoles, media streaming boxes and Blu-ray players.
According to Informa, there will be more than 1.8bn devices with inbuilt internet connectivity in use in over 570m homes by end-2016.
While providing access to online content on television sets is not an entirely new concept, alternative content delivery systems, second screen apps and social network interactions make it one of the major developments that will shape the future of television this decade.
Traditionally, watching TV has been a lean-back, passive experience that involved a limited programming choice and casual channel surfing.
Although consumers are now faced with a multitude of options and have more avenues through which they consume content than ever before, they still spend most of their time watching a small bundle of TV channels or shows.
As consumers’ choices only continue to increase and content availability and penetration of mobile devices reach all-time highs, focus is shifting from challenges in content availability and delivery to difficulties in driving and managing consumption. Challenges may no longer lie in having enough choice, but rather in keeping so much choice from becoming a burden for consumers.
The TV industry is gradually moving from a push to a pull model: consumers now expect advanced personalisation (choice of content and length), customisation (setup and delivery options), seamless content discovery and interactive social experiences around their favourite TV shows.
Research has showed that around half of consumers are now using another device while watching TV at home and most of them typically discover content on personal devices such as smartphones and tablets (often accidentally), but want to watch it on their TVs.
While many companies have started to make inroads in linking content discovery and consumption devices, the logistics behind seamless discovery and delivery are complex.
Switching between online, TV and stored content has proven to be a frustrating experience for users and the market is still far away from offering a single intuitive search and navigation interface that is tightly interwoven with a powerful recommendation engine.
As social media activity has started to disrupt TV watching, many startups are capitalising on the increasing convergence of the two by launching companion apps with interactive social media features to drive engagement and TV ratings.
Apps have become an important part of the holistic TV experience, as they recreate the water cooler effect and give viewers a reason to interact and engage.
In the UK alone, over a quarter (26%) of consumers surveyed say they have commented on a programme on a second screen, with young adults (46% of those aged under 25) being the most likely to chatterbox.
Figure 1: Percentage of people chatterboxing
Chatterboxing: Watching a programme on the television (colloquially known as 'the box') whilst talking to others about that programme online, normally via a social media platform.
Pay TV operators have also been looking at ways to incorporate social TV recommendations into their IPGs or to include social media elements in their shows such as live-tweeting, showing curated tweets or launching Facebook apps for live voting.
As Twitter's UK general manager Tony Wong said: "Broadcasters are not the ones to choose whether to have social TV. It happens whether they like it or not. But they have a choice about how to harness that social TV energy".
You have probably heard this phrase multiple times this year. For those who haven’t, cord-cutting is the act of cancelling cable and satellite TV subscriptions, often used in the same context as cord-shaving (spending progressively less on TV packages as more content becomes available online) or cord-swapping (switching from one multichannel service provider to another for a better deal on high-speed internet and cable TV).
But how real is this threat and how are pay TV operators responding?
Informa forecasts that globally, 16.1m homes (only 2% of the global pay TV subscriber base) will have 'cut the cord' with their pay TV provider by the end of 2015.
Under a fifth (16%) of the consumers surveyed by Chadwick Martin Bailey said they are 'highly likely' to cut back on cable next year, while more than half (57%) are 'unlikely' to do it.
Driven by the increasing demand for access to premium content everywhere and consumption of long-form content on mobile devices, broadcasters and pay TV operators have responded by extending existing TV services to different devices.
They are trying to explore different business models, such as either tying them to higher-tier offerings that include multi-screen services or offering standalone subscriptions for mobile or online access to content.
While TV Everywhere might be the answer to the cord-cutting threat, TV networks and cable operators are on a collision course due to content licensing disputes. The challenge for TV operators is two-fold: channels are increasingly making shows available through their own apps to have more control over viewer data and become less dependent on cable operators, and content owners seek new distribution methods and additional revenues for unlimited access.
News Corp. and Disney, for example, will only agree to license content to TV Everywhere if subscribers can also watch it through their joint-venture, Hulu.
Competition and cooperation
The connected TV market is set for explosive growth in the coming months and competition has already intensified. The convergence of online and broadcast entertainment is also creating a new breed of service providers trying to build market share.
For example, technology giants such as Google and Apple are utilising their hardware and service platforms to offer a potential replacement for traditional Pay TV. And then there are the big consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers building content portals and working with developers based on a revenue-share model.
As shown in the chart below, a recent survey conducted by Informa revealed that CE manufacturers stand to gain the most from connected devices, while traditional operators will lose ground overall.
Figure 2: Who will gain/lose from connected devices
While pricing and content rights will be key, the connected TV market will not reach its true potential unless all stakeholders collaborate to achieve DRM interoperability and standardisation in measurement instead of battling over profit margins.
Partnerships can enable a better user experience for the consumer and win-win business models for all companies in the value chain. In other words, key players need more than a piece of software that runs – content discovery and engagement will be the most significant challenges moving forward.
The Connected TV Smart Pack provides a snapshot of the fast-paced connected TV ecosystem. The 80-page report includes sections on:
- Market trends and developments.
- An overview of the key players in the industry.
- Case studies of compaies using connected TV for marketing.
- Third-party statistics and research.