BBC iPlayer chief: “Connected TV is not showing a growth curve we can be proud of”

Daniel Danker, General Manager of On Demand at the BBC

Daniel Danker, General Manager of On Demand at the BBC

After last night’s fun at the TV Connect Industry Awards, Daniel Danker, General Manager of On Demand at the BBC, had some sobering words on the outlook of connected TVs for those attending his keynote presentation on Day 3 of TV Connect in London.

First, some figures: usage of the BBC’s massively popular iPlayer service grew 46% in the 12 months to January 2013, helped no doubt by the “Olympics effect” of the games that took place during this period.

Overlaying the growth curves of consumer adoption of popular technologies such as radio, refrigerators, VCRs and the Internet, he demonstrated that for many of these massively successful innovations, consumer adoption has taken around five years to achieve 25% penetration, and 20 years to achieve 90% penetration.

Mobile devices leaving connected TVs in their dust

iPlayer has ripped up the rule book on this, achieving over 50% penetration within five years, and is showing no signs of slowing down. However, looking at what platforms are being used to access iPlayer, connected TVs are being left far behind by mobile devices and others, despite being perhaps the most natural fit for iPlayer.

Mobile devices saw their share of total viewership rise from 13% in January 2012 to 36% in the same month of 2013, while connected TVs still languish around the 2% mark – and Danker believes that the industry must take action now if it is to prevent connected TVs from disappearing down the same rabbit hole as 3DTV.

“This is not a growth curve we can be proud of – we are at a critical time in the development of connected TVs,” he said. “My aim today is to convince you that if this is going to be successful, we have to get together as an industry and make some changes, or else connected TV is going to be a failure.”

The need to delight viewers

Pleasingly, he had a one word answer to how to address these shortcomings – delight. Consumers must be delighted by the user experience of connected TVs, or else they will continue to stubbornly ignore what these devices can offer.

An interesting metaphor used was that of cars – while motor vehicles can vary enormously in looks and performance, they offer some common attributes such as the steering wheel, pedal and gear lever all being in more or less the same places.

Danker believes that connected TV experiences should be made with a similar aim in mind – remote control buttons in common places, catch-up and online content again in similar positions across the different manufacturer offerings…

“Success or failure is determined by adoption rates – and on this basis, connected TVs are not currently succeeding,” he said.

“To reach the kind of adoption rates we’ve seen with radio and other popular technologies, we need to tear down the barriers that prevent all viewers from adopting it. We need to agree a basic set of principles, create exceptional content, and provide a seamless connection with live TV.”

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