Guest post by Luke Gaydon, VP of Media, EMEA, at Brightcove
Each week seems to bring a fresh rumour about the next big thing in in the world of Web TV. Buzz mounted around Amazon, which recently entered the fray with an over-the-top (OTT) box of its own Fire TV, while Apple TV speculation continues to make the daily rounds. Another recent rumour on the TV grapevine, concerning a UK Google Chromecast launch, came to fruition last month, much to the excitement of media organisations and consumers alike, but not before Roku unveiled its own rival offering.
The steady rumble of the OTT rumour-mill is a testament to the amount of competition and interest in this space. The number of contenders vying for control of the living room is exploding, bringing with it a slew of devices, from Connected TVs, to games consoles that double as home entertainment hubs, and next-generation streaming devices – everything from streaming sticks, to Sky’s ‘NOW TV’ box (supported by almost all major UK broadcasters).
Add to the mix the multitude of connected screens consumers are using together to complement their TV experiences and the path to today’s viewer starts to resemble a spaghetti junction. In this crowded market, how can media organisations cut through the noise to secure living-room dominance?
The ‘streaming stick’ effect
The living room remains at the heart of video entertainment, but the colliding worlds of TV and the Internet are turning TV on its head. The next generation of TV will undoubtedly be one that combines a lean-back, immersive TV experience with the personalisation, selection and choice enabled by the Web – qualities that have enabled OTT services such as Netflix to thrive.
One device attempting to do just this is Google Chromecast. As we’re already witnessing in the US, Chromecast is a true game-changer. Previous attempts to innovate with ‘interactive TV’ have been shackled to the notion that people keep set-top boxes for 10+ years. But Chromecast throws out those constraints with a low price point that renders it a flexible, disposable technology that viewers can upgrade as frequently as they would their smartphone.
With less than half of smart-TV owners having actually connected their TVs to the Internet, devices such as Google and Roku’s streaming sticks raise a question-mark over the future of Smart TV by enabling consumers to make a TV ‘smart’ for less money than a meal out. In a new twist on the OTT set-top box (STB), these devices enable consumers to enjoy immersive, IP-delivered content on the main screen, whilst enjoying search and discovery functionality on their personal device, whether that’s a tablet, laptop or mobile.
It’s a viewing model that plays to each device’s strength; mobile is highly apt for personal, engaged interactions, but the TV will always provide the optimum viewing experience, thanks to its size and resolution. It’s this interplay between devices to create the best possible TV experience that holds the key to Google’s success. What’s more, it opens up an entire world of ‘second screen’ experiences and personalised channels.
But for content owners to be truly successful on streaming platforms such as Google’s, it’s critical to establish a strong advertising model to fuel the development of content and the technology to deliver it.
Monetising the new age of TV
Combining the personalisation made possible by the Web with the engaging, high-definition experience of TV-set viewing, devices such as Chromecast are a genuine breakthrough. They’re driving a new architecture that moves the complexity of video delivery away from the device and into the cloud, paving the way for the delivery of addressable content and dynamic advertising for VOD and live video alike.
It’s a win-win that counters the traditional one-to-many TV model: consumers get the premium content they want, when they want it, while broadcasters and programmers are able to deliver more value to advertisers by offering a more targeted and engaged audience. And advertisers are able to reach consumers with more brand impact, better engagement and conversion.
The streaming stick may represent the real ‘meat’ in today’s maze of OTT and streaming services, but device and platform fragmentation is only set to grow. As a result, delivering the right ad experience on the right device at the right time has never been so important.
Thankfully, it’s now possible to be dynamic in terms of where ads come from, how they’re targeted to the individual, and to serve them in a TV-like experience with the look and feel of premium content, wherever the location, and whatever the device.
With these weapons to hand, media organisations are well-equipped to navigate today’s complex path to the consumer – and to unlock the full revenue potential of today’s influx of OTT entertainment.