Your Remote Control Is Also Your Phone, Most Likely. Or It Will Be

I wonder about the remote control almost every time I use one; it’s a pretty dumb thing and about the last electronic device out there that also existed in the home where you grew up, maybe right next to the rotary phone.  

I thought about that recently looking at chart-like matter from Ooyala called "The New Remote."  You can already guess where that graphic is headed: That new remote is your smartphone or your tablet, but what that new remote is summoning may be on your “New TV,” which is really material arriving via the Internet.

The Oolyala slide show notes that, as estimated by NPD, next year there will 202 million Internet connected devices in U.S. homes, a 44% increase from just a year ago. The number includes game consoles, tablets, streaming devices and connected TVs; Nielsen estimates there are 115.6 million TV households. TV exists across all of those devices, so that makes a good graphic and a good hook: Ipso facto, your smartphone or tablet is the new remote.

I don’t think anyone has fainted at that news, but it makes a good starting point.  

Also, some overwhelming data helps. Ooyala’s own video index says the share of online viewing that is going on through a tablet or smartphone has increased 133%.

Ooyala plucks out data that says 70% of us have a phone or tablet in our hands as we watch content on TV. That seems true. Every time I use Chromecast, I choose what I’ll watch via a tablet. When I record old-style TV programs, I mostly do it through Comcast on that same tablet.

My actual TV remote is kind of like the local bus; for long trips, I fly.

All that is just good news, says Simon Jones, the solutions marketing director for Ooyala, because the ease of selecting programming shifts the advertising equation away from just buying great big audiences—GRPs—to buying specific audiences whenever and wherever they’re watching.

Jones seems confident the consumer will easily transition from a TV-centered content experience to a streaming mode pretty effortlessly, and even knowingly.

“To be honest with you, it’s already started,” he says. He notes, as does Ooyala’s presentation, that the sales of TV sets declined for two straight years. But Jones points out, the decline in 2013 was smaller and he has a “sneaking suspicion” that an uptick may be in store as consumers waited to enter a new market for later generation connected TVs. That, in turn, suggests even more rapid growth.

“As more and more people begin watching video delivered by Internet,” Jones says, “it will become a lot harder to game the system.” The numbers, the data, specificity, will help push that along, as will those views of network shows gathered in through Hulu or other sites after their original air dates.  

Jones is encouraged by CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves, who keeps loudly predicting that in short order, advertisers will be paying to advertise in programs that are separated by weeks from their original broadcast date. That, says, Jones, is the kind of push the market needs to end the day-and-date mind-set of advertisers, and replace it with a focus on specific, measurable audiences that is the sales tool/cudgel of digital.

“When 85% of advertising at the network is not time-sensitive, what's the difference if you watch it in five or six days from now versus three days from now?" Mr. Moonves said at a UBS conference last year. "We will get paid from people who watch our shows 22 days from now. We might not get paid as much, but if you are advertising Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, what the heck is the difference if you watch it tonight live or 21 days from now?"

On a tablet or smartphone, day and date don’t mean much.

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