Future of Television.. Part I
Will the Future of Television be a complete makeover from where it stands today? Let’s face it – not much has changed in the way we have interfaced and interacted with Television for the best part of last several decades. Physically television has seen change – bigger, brighter and wider screen, thinner bezel, more pixels, higher resolution, more connectors and yes more buttons on the pristine remote.
Technology, user expectations and regulatory compliance have brought some noteworthy features over a period of time. Features like introduction of digital tuners, DVR technology, Video on Demand, Pay per view, parental controls have gained maturity, others like TV Everywhere, DLNA compliance, network DVR, remote management seem more on the horizon. Still others like interactive applications and cable card which vowed to revolutionize could not achieve promised heights. While it is overwhelming to see the vision companies are charting out for future of television technology with projection and touch technology turning any surface into Television screen, transparent and fold able screens, Ultra HD or 8k content format, holographic TV, voice and gesture activated controls, augmented reality glasses etc., most of these visions are still a long way before becoming technically production ready as well as economically viable for mainstream consumers..Today Connected TV is most often described as the generation next for television with an ability to transform Television into a smart,engaging and converged device impacting all media stakeholders from content creators, aggregators, broadcasters, service providers to end consumers. Television industry itself is undergoing swift changes – increase in number of broadcast channels, OTT providers, connected media adapters, new advertising models, content convergence, influence of social networks etc. which are changing the business models of how content is created, priced and distributed and when and for whom to make it available. With emergence of multiple screens and services, consumption is getting more fragmented – once accepted and sufficient single screen has given way to main and complementary screens with expectation of ubiquitous content delivery for a lower subscription cost.
Broadcasters and Service Providers with power of consumer relationship added with extended and exclusive media contracts have largely controlled the content on their terms but today reeling under the growing competition from OTT players the genre is innovating to deliver content in non-linear formats across multiple devices.
Pay TV Subscription is also under churn with Generation X not convinced in paying for cable (the uncorded generation) and a growing number being satisfied with a Netflix subscription (an optional OTA antenna) and a connected DMA to meet their content requirements. But majority of consumers are still hooked to their traditional broadcast television when it comes to long form content consumption and the pre-historic user interface to deliver programming and live sports which reconfirms the view that the old television is still very much here to stay. Percentage of consumers who have cut the cord and are completely off cable is growing but by all means remain minimal.
Television is unique with limited or no parallels to other devices used communally and personally, and with growing agreement that Television is far more capable than what it is today it rightly stands at crossroads of disruption. Listed below are some areas which have started to evolve and will go through a feedback, improvisation and hardening phase before making real impact on the way television is accessed, used and integrated today.
Today there exist over 500 broadcast channels in addition to VOD, OTT and user generated content while the time allotted for Television viewing has not increased but rather has got multiplexed with additional activities. But since channel and sources exists there is now a need to search/sort and present the relevant content based on the personal preference, social influence and intelligence based on the genre, age, geo-location, historical viewing and more. While the content explosion has given rise to more channels and more choices with a virtual feeling of being in control, some true innovation is still needed for meaningful control with the leisure of now forgotten laid back experience.
User Experience and Content Discovery
Channel lineups and content search are critical first interfaces to the user but unfortunately they have largely remained devoid of innovation, similar is the case with remotes which is the controller gateway to the Television but still continues to be slow and sluggish with virtues of line of sight restriction. Gesture controls integrated with smart TVs looks fun but waving hands around to actionize an event seems least intuitive. Voice control through Television remote which keys in the content and presents the intended channel seems more promising. Today Xbox does it with Kinect, Google has recently introduced Voice and not so far we may see customized Siri for Apple TV. Voice and gesture search also maintains content viewing/browsing continuity which gets broken with second screen interface. Finally whether it is gesture or voice or control through companion device – a simple no brainier content discovery interface which shows content options across retailers with price and rating details and unified purchase gateway will be a true game changer