Will Consumers Ever Connect with Connected TV?
Mark Twain said, “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” and I thought of that reading an essay about connected TV by Tony Duarte. He’s a senior media consultant at fluxx ltd.
He penned a blog for eConsultancy in which he wondered why, for all the industry talk about connected TV, it’s not so very popular with consumers.
For one, you might retort, the premise is wrong. AppleTV, Roku and smart TVs seem to be getting a lot of buzz. Though, if you’re reading this, you probably run around in a tight circle of digital savants, not the real world. Ask the guy next to you at the bar if he has a connected TV, and he might look at you crossed-eyed: “Of course, it’s plugged in.” Talk about television and boxes and your conversation inevitably will be about the cable converter, not OTT devices.
“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,” Duarte writes, and it sure does seem true.
Fluxx has a white paper about it that’s worth reading. But Duarte, in a kind of preview, lays out the situation—it’s hard for me to call it a “problem” at this point--pretty well.
“Consumers lag behind the broadcast industry in their behaviours and understanding, which leads to low uptake for connected entertainment experiences with a TV focus, though it is increasing,” he writes. “The broadcast industry lags behind the current capabilities of connected device technology and the agencies that understand it. Established linear formats and commissioning practices form obstacles that need to be overcome. Connected device technology itself undermines its own potential through a lack of standards, fragmentation of platforms, poor performance and poor usability.”
He bullet points the major obstacles. In keeping with my personal goal of reducing bullets of all types, I’ve ReaderDigested Duarte’s points of view into four, with my parenthetical comments:
- Consumers brought up on a passive, linear TV experience show ingrained lean-back behaviour. (As an older person who just referenced Readers’Digest for goodness sake, I understand this one. For many TV viewers, the proliferation of choices and chances for interaction has gone far enough. I’m not in that camp, but I get it.)
- Lack of standard advertising industry metrics for second screen engagement obstruct advertising revenues from flowing into the second screen sector and Social TV. (A simple rule in the media business: Follow the money, or create a way for the money to find you.)
- 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. (Work on that and you also can convince some customers they don’t have to be so damn smart to watch SmartTV.)
- Smart TV user experience is improving incrementally, but a breakthrough pattern is needed to inspire a mainstream shift as touchscreens did with smartphones. (Again, the KISS concept works, but call it MISS for Make It Simple, Stupid.)
Duarte is upbeat. Everybody in the connected TV business is sure they’re early settlers in The Future. Duarte writes, “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.”
He’s all right, or he’s probably right, or mostly right. Going to his first point,after a day working for The Man, many of us get home and want our deliberations limited to the chicken breast or drumstick? level. And we’re cynical. All those cable “choices” haven’t increased our good choices that much; they’ve just expanded our ability to make bad choices.
But one thing media technology has done is made our decision about when to watch much freer, which is a funny thing to contemplate as broadcast networks form their fall schedules. No one cares very much those schedules will look like. Viewers, even average viewers, don’t pay much attention to schedules, and SmartTV and connected TVs have great opportunities tapping into that viewing pattern. That’s why they’re so smart.