The internet has changed the way we consume multimedia content. The shift to smaller screens is very much evident, especially in a ‘mobile-first’ market like India. Availability of faster connectivity options such as 4G and Wi-Fi hotspots have only accelerated this trajectory. Current media such as TV broadcasters are obviously bleeding. Fortunately, a lot of them are evolving and embracing the digital age as we know it. Though sporadic in nature, the evolution of the traditional media has begun.
Smaller screens, of course, make a lot of sense in the digital age. You can catch up with any news, videos and even communicate with your friends on-the-go. With mobile displays peaking to 2K resolution, the user experience has only gotten better. Last year a Vuclip study revealed that while TVs were the preferred medium to consume content, people were increasingly getting acquaintance with streaming and downloading on their smartphones. ALSO READ: Online video consumption habits of Indians reveal the challenges for Netflix and other streaming services
In the West, the shift is happening at a much faster pace. According to an Accenture study, laptops and desktops have surpassed TVs as the preferred devices for watching TV shows. Also, the people who prefer watching shows on TV dropped to 23 percent from 55 percent in the previous year.
That being said, TVs are still around in our living rooms, and I don’t think they are going to be redundant anytime soon. What TV manufacturers and even broadcasters are doing to stay abreast with the shift in paradigm is embracing the internet.
Already a slew of smart TVs that let you surf the internet and access your favorite streaming apps have launched in the market. In India, these smart TVs are still niche, but growing popularity of Apple TV and Chromecast, and now Amazon Fire Stick, suggests people are wanting to get more out of their TV sets, rather just watch the routine channels.
As far as the televisions go, brands like VU have already some efforts in this direction.Last year, it introduced Netflix as preloaded feature on its TV along with a slew of entertainment focused apps. “Video-on-demand is big. We have partnered with Hotstar, Eros Now and bunch of other apps on the Opera store to offer video content on television,” VU Technologies chief Devita Saraf is quoted as saying. Though LeEco is currently in hot soup, it did make an attempt to bring its content ecosystem preloaded on its TVs. Xiaomi, on the other hand, has done the same in China. ALSO READ: LeEco to soon launch next-generation ecoTVs in India
In my opinion, the biggest push to this medium has to come from Google. Already it offers Android TV and recently launched YouTube TV, a $35-per-month internet-based bundle of channels. Google, however, sees the potential in this segment, but its strategy is very much in conjunction with its existing one for AdSense. Adjoining the two, Google hopes it could create a revenue model from the evolving the TV-internet segment. ALSO READ: YouTube users are watching billion hours of videos every day: Google
Google has just announced adding support for purchasing ‘TV commercial’ through its ad technology. Through this, advertisers will be able to reach TV audiences as part of their digital video ad purchases through Google’s ad platform. This is perhaps the first occasion when TV is being taken into consideration for selling ads. Google already has a list of partners in place; that includes Wideorbit and Clypd, and Google Fiber.
“As the lines blur between TV and digital video, it’s important that marketers are able to reach their audiences across screens,” said Rany Ng, director for product management at Google, in a blog post.
“Historically, TV and digital advertising have been bought and measured through different systems and currencies,” added Ng. “By adding traditional TV buying into DoubleClick Bid Manager, we are taking the first step toward allowing advertisers and agencies to manage their video campaigns across digital and linear TV, in a more efficient and effective way.”
At the moment, Google’s move is more targeted at streamlining the process for the advertisers but I don’t see Google not evolving the process to bringing it to televisions running on its platform.
Though it’s not the first time Google is targeting this segment. Back in 2012, Google introduced a Google TV Ads platform, which would work similar to AdWords and ads would be delivered through set-top-boxes. The product failed to take off and Google sensibly pulled the plug. But this was about five years ago, and in my opinion, the market looks more matured and ready than ever before. At least, West is ready for Google’s new foray.
But I see this becoming widely accepted sooner or later. India being one of its biggest markets should also be part of its plan. As I said earlier, the Indian market as it has been in the past embraces such changes at a gradual pace until a solid product/service comes in to disrupt the market. For starters, Google can partner with Airtel, which offers a smarter Internet TV running Android and offers apps like Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Games, Airtel Movies and more. According to reports, there are more such set-top-boxes are in the works by other DTH operators. ALSO READ: Airtel Internet TV will make your TV smarter, but should you upgrade right away?
I see TV companies making efforts to evolve as per the market dynamics but they got to do a lot more than what they are doing at the moment. While price and quality are basics, they will require bundling as many as popular apps possible on their platform along with an experience that’s in tandem with what they will receive on other platforms. Small things like constant updates and improvement in UI as the time progresses are the key. Also, the OTT players will need to show faith in this medium by optimizing their content for such screens. Netflix already has a list of recommended TVs. However, I’d prefer this to be more universal.