Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Streaming kills the video star

It looks as though the tide is turning for connected TV services. This month for the first time ever, LOVEFiLM announced its members streamed more films and TV series over the internet than it rented DVDs. The number of films and TV episodes streamed online increased by 20 per cent over the previous month and increased by 400 per cent compared with the same month last year.

These services are currently offered over internet-connected devices such as games console, laptops and connected TVs. But we should start to see connected TVs and STB’s take the lion’s share as consumers become more aware of the benefits of plugging an Ethernet cable into the back of their TV’s and set-top boxes.

Amazon’s LOVEFiLM was the pioneer in online film delivery services in the UK and with over two million members it’s still the largest in Europe. But the marketplace is hotting up with competing offerings from the likes of Netflix, Dixon’s KnowHow service and Sky’s NowTV to be launched in the summer.

We hope to see these companies take movie streaming services to the next level, by not only offering great content but interactive features as well. Service providers need to consider what value added content they can deliver on top of programmes, such as social media interaction and recommendations.

Friday, 16 March 2012

“Chatterboxing” set to be the norm

More and more people want to interact with the content they are watching and feel connected to their TV. If that was not already accepted, then the recent TeleScope report published by TV Licensing should help to convince the doubters. The report covered over 2,000 UK adults looking to take the pulse of the nation’s viewing habits. One of the headline findings is that over a quarter of those people (26 per cent) said they now use multiple devices whilst watching television.

The practice of using smartphones and tablet devices to comment on television in real time has been dubbed “chatterboxing” in the report, and if the growth of social networking sites and sales of such devices continues, then it is inevitable more people are going to want to interact with content in this way.

For instance, if a soap show or a football match is on the box, you can bet at least one aspect of the content will be trending on Twitter. People are watching their televisions and reacting to what they are seeing on social networking sites via their smartphones or tablets. TV shows are already creating their own hashtags to compliment what is being transmitted. Look at something like Question Time, interaction with the audience at home is now done via social networks. It’s almost completely replaced the concept of texting or calling into the show.

The key to this shift in consumer behaviour will be to rollout connected TVs with the ability to work in unison with other devices such as smartphones and tablets. At the moment these are treated as independent devices but the viewing experience of the future must enable these devices to 'talk' to TV’s, delivering a more personalised viewing experience for the consumer. This is something we looked at in our ‘Predictions for the year ahead’ blog.

Whilst for some this may be seen as a big investment for the TV industry to meet, the TV Licensing report shows it should be a financially rewarding project for them. Chatterboxing is actually encouraging people to watch scheduled TV. A quarter (24%) of social media savvy adults covered in the report, aged under 35, watch a programme live, rather than on catch up, because they enjoy being part of the related social media chatter. One in five (19%) are more likely to watch something as it is being shown on TV because they are worried ‘social media spoilers’ will ruin the ending.

If this heightened interaction and the risk of ‘spoilers’ encourages more people to tune in at the scheduled times, then it should help broadcasters to sell advertising space for higher rates. All of which will trickle through the industry helping everyone to benefit.

However, to ensure this opportunity is seized upon, content providers and device manufacturers need to work together to create further options and make sure interaction between the viewer and the broadcaster is taken as far as it can be. TV is such an important part of today’s social behaviour and the onus has now been placed on the TV industry to deliver a converged TV experience that embraces new viewing trends.