Some revealing insights about the evolving television and video ecosystem emerged from research released this week.
As is often the case at this juncture, some trends speak to technology or user-experience limitations, and others to consumers’ inevitably common-sense approach to doing what works for them, including switching among platforms and devices.
Case in point: While TV Everywhere (TVE) continues to grow at remarkably rapid rates, the promise inherent in the platform’s name — setting people free to watch wherever, as well as whenever — has barely begun to be realized.
In Q1, TVE video viewing grew 58% quarter-over-quarter, and 107% year-over-year, according to Adobe’s latest Digital Video Benchmark Report. That followed Q4 2015 growth of 29% QOQ and 102% YOY.
However, fully 71% of TVE viewers in March watched from a single location. And even more surprising, 72% of those viewing TVE on mobile watched from a single location.
The single-location viewers use multiple devices, watching 43% of their content on smartphones, 38% on desktops, and 19% on TV-connected devices such as Apple TV, Roku and gaming consoles.
Does the oddly stationary nature of current TVE viewing reveal implacable couch-potato syndrome, or some other habitual barrier to adopting the technology?
Not really. Much of it comes down to log-in — or in industry parlance, authentication — obstacles. Meaning having to log in over and over, and possibly juggle multiple passwords.
"The log-in experience hasn't been great," Adobe’s director of product marketing, Campbell Foster, acknowledged to CNBC.com. "Do you know your Comcast password?"
But a solution is in the works. This month, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) announced support from key industry players for a new, non-proprietary industry standard developed in collaboration with Adobe.
The standard will “dramatically improve the sign-in experience for pay TV customers across platforms, both in and out of the home,” says CTAM, with two capabilities. Home-Based Authentication will automatically sign in users when they’re at home, and Single Sign-On will enable outside-the-home users to provide their credentials just once in order to be signed in across multiple pay-TV and programmer-supported TVE apps.
Portions of the solution will be available this year. In addition, CTAM aims to drive TVE growth by developing a unified consumer marketing strategy.
Millennials Mix OTT, Pay TV
Meanwhile, the latest data from Parks Associates’ OTT Video Market Tracker confirm that while Millennials’ viewing consumption habits do differ somewhat from the broader population’s, they aren’t willy-nilly abandoning pay-TV options, at least for now.
Currently, 23% of Millennial heads-of-household use OTT only, versus just 15% of all U.S. broadband homes, according to the research.
However, 61% of Millennials subscribe to both pay TV and OTT services, also higher than the national average of 52%.
"Younger consumers are willing to subscribe to pay-TV service, provided the offerings align with their expectations," summed up Parks Associates research analyst Ruby-Ren. "In particular, Millennials show higher-than-average affinity for popular culture and premium movie channels, as well as programming for younger children."