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.

4 comments about "Will Consumers Ever Connect with Connected TV?".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct, March 15, 2013 at 3:37 p.m.

    Interesting. But I think he underestimates the fundamental problems in connected TV. For example - the chaos. On cable, I have one unified system - even included shifting to on-demand program. It's really quite easy to find what's "on". With connected systems, I have 4 to 5 different sources I have to browse, it's a pain trying to browse them, and I'd really rather visit a video store (non existent today) where all the options are laid out visually on shelves where I can very, very, very quickly scan and isolate. These are fundamental consumer issues - issues that the digital hipsters seem to want to ignore. Perhaps, in fact, the problem is that these systems are being developed by geeks - without enough care spent on the really important issue which aren't technological.

  2. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, March 15, 2013 at 3:49 p.m.

    We use them now what are you talking about P.J.?

  3. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, March 15, 2013 at 4:13 p.m.

    Bottome line, who cares if Smart TV's are being used or not (which of course they are to some degree)....with technology advancements, distractions and media fragmentation that include Smart TV's, Tablets, Netflix, Game DVR's, Consoles, iPhones etc, (all of which are used heavily during primetime viewing), the aggregate usage has eroded the tv rating model and commercial engagement to the point where the main benefit TV sellers fall back on is that "TV still offers the most scale!".....Ok, but at what price....why continually pay more for less? Do a bad job year after year and get a raise...complete opposite of the world we live in now.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 15, 2013 at 11:22 p.m.

    The media people have a job in media to understand the jargon and the tech. The other people have other jobs and don't want to learn another confusing mess.
    KISS up.

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