Over the past year, the U.S. has shown a significant increase in subscriber losses for pay TV. Due to this trend, it may seem that pay television is slowly dying out, but that’s not entirely the case.
What’s happening is that satellite and cable are soon to be placed in the same category with CDs and newspapers, while TV is naturally evolving in order to align with its modern user — one who looks for user-friendly business models, updated user interface (UI) and affordable devices.
Here are key trends to expect in 2018 for Cloud TV that will bring new UIs, voice control, sports and investments in OTT TV ad infrastructure:
1. Refreshed TV UI
Don’t give up on TV sets just yet. Content viewing on mobile devices may have increased, compared to prior years, but when it comes to long-form premium content, TV is still dominating.
Nielsen reported in October 2017 that about 90% of time spent streaming is done via TV, which confirms that although mobile might be great for short-term, on-the-go viewing, TV is still the main destination for viewers for premium content.
The current trend is to modernize the TV UI. In 2018, higher volume of web content and premium content joining together and veering away from the traditional TV UI is predicted. Many platforms have already implemented a crossover between web content and premium content.
An example of this was seen on NBC’s dashboard for the 2016 Olympics. Roku is also acting on this; its OS 8 Smart TV interface combines both broadcast and streaming content. Roku aims to find its users the lowest price from either its various apps or free TV when searching for a movie or episode.
2. Advanced Voice UI
Most of us prefer the convenience of talking over typing, and various TV platforms have already implemented voice control, think Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Comcast X1 and Sky Q, to name a few.
Voice was one of the biggest trends at IBC in 2017, and operators indicated it as the most-desired customer feature. In 2017, Comcast voice-control remotes added commands to replace manual rewind by implementing voice commands, such as “rewind 30 minutes” or “fast forward 10 seconds.”
The Voice and AI trend has made a breakthrough in tech companies, showing a greater presence in Apple, Google and Microsoft, and will also become increasingly relevant for TV operators.
3. Sports At Your Fingertips
Some of the big players, like Netflix and Amazon, have announced their upcoming plans for providing more original content in 2018.
Netflix is investing $8 billion of new content, while Amazon confirmed five new projects, one of which is said to be the most talked about show since “Game of Thrones.” What about Cloud TV and sports? There is still a long way to go, but soon enough, sports will also be an active player in the Cloud TV market, especially with ESPN’s big plans to launch a direct customer-streaming service.
The demand for Sports live content isn’t a secret. Today's users want their premium sports content to be OTT. Disney newly acquiring BAMTech is taking the steps to get us there. Disney announced it will be providing OTT services through BAMTech for their ESPN property, which means its sports content will be available for streaming (along with BAMTech’s existing streaming of MLB, PGA, NHL, WWE and more).
Although many networks have been hesitant to provide streaming for premium sports content, this transition will benefit them. The pay TV trend is transitioning towards streaming and sports, drawing in more viewers, due to its existing fan base. Expect to see greater direct-to-consumer services, as more sports networks are hopping on this train.
4. Revamped Ad Infrastructure
If you are familiar with streaming content via TV apps, then you know the current ads on Cloud TV have yet to evolve within this space. Most shows that you stream will show the same advertisement across multiple ad breaks.
That’s mostly because advertisers are not comfortable relying on the measurements from Cloud TV when compared to other digital advertising methods, like mobile apps and display.
It’s important to note that streaming TV viewers complete 98% of all video ads, and are found to be younger, and wealthier than the average linear TV viewer. This means that connected TV is the future for digital advertising.
Unfortunately, it’s more complicated to target and track these users, since many of the connected devices, such as Apple TV and Roku, are cookie-less.
Luckily, Google has announced new products that will provide broadcasters the needed forecasting associated with trends and audience reach. These tools mean the future for digital advertising will bring traditional TV advertising into the Cloud TV world; budgets will slowly shift from linear to cloud.
The movement has already begun for modernizing the world of TV as we know it. Many active players have already demonstrated this cloud shift transformation. As the new year kicks in, it will continue to evolve and improve the future of Cloud TV and upgrade our entertainment experiences.