6 Top Considerations for Building a Connected TV Experience

22 / Dec / 2016 by Gaurav Gupta 0 comments

In this era of connected consumerism, connected TVs have steadily embarked their journey. More and more users are now expecting experiential interactions to be extended to their living rooms. It is now time for brands to make TVs an essential and not optional channel while defining their digital strategies. There is a definite trend towards this across industries such as Media and Entertainment, Education, and e-Commerce.

Research from Gartner indicates that by 2018, 76 percent of connected home apps will be accessible from smart TVs. Also, by 2018, 87 percent of TVs shipped annually will be smart TVs. These trends are a clear indication that more and more people now want to control what, when and how to watch content in their living rooms. People want to watch content on demand, without commercial breaks, and want a complete sync between their two most used devices smart phones and smart TVs. Smart TVs provide people the option to watch content other than that provided by select networks on a bigger screen. Users can now access content from YouTube, Neflix, Hulu and many other apps through their Smart TVs. Slowly and gradually, Smart TVs are becoming a natural extension of many smartphones and tablet apps.

With the added feature of the connected TVs, it opens up great opportunities for content providers, brands, promotional agencies and marketers to include Connected TVs as part of their digital strategy and develop apps across a broad spectrum of connected TVs. However, Connected TV ecosystem is quite different from other traditional digital channels. Here is the guide on how to design and develop 10 Feet experiences.

1. Define your target smart TV platforms: Identify the connected TV platforms that you need to target. The market is quite fragmented between Streaming Players, TVs with inbuilt OS, and Gaming consoles. All of these are mediums that your users leverage to get a connected experience in their living rooms. You should identify which all platforms you need to target depending upon your geography, industry, and end user profile. Connected devices are broadly divided into three groups.

    • Smart TVs, for example – Samsung Tizen, LG, Smart Alliance, Android Smart TV (with in-built Android OS and features) constitutes about 75% of the total market in the year 2015/2016. Projected to remain dominant and have a market share of 55% by 2021.
    • Media Streamers, for example – Apple TV, Roku TV, Android TV (like Nvidia set top box), Amazon Fire, Chromecast constitutes about 12.5% of the market share and projected to grow to about 30% by year 2021.
    • Gaming Consoles, for example – Xbox, PS2 constitutes about 12.5% of the market share and will reduce to about 7.5 % by 2021.

2. Leverage the existing systems: Your end goal is to create a connected experience. A lot of times, it will be an extension and enhancement of your existing applications on mobile and web. Keep in mind if you already have web and/or mobile applications, you are now building a new front end and should be able to leverage a lot of existing technology, marketing, and support system.

    • Using the existing backend systems will allow your current users to seamlessly explore the new connected TV apps with all their existing account data and preferences. This will enable you to create a truly connected and seamless experience.
    • Integrate Connected TV Analytics with your existing analytics reports and dashboards. An integrated dashboard will help you take key business decisions in a holistic manner.
    • Like any other digital channel, you will need to come up with marketing and promotions of your connected TV experiences. Again leverage your existing marketing programs and create an integrated campaign covering all channels.

3. Define the monetization strategy: T-commerce (TV commerce) is becoming a reality now with more and more brands using Connected TVs as a source of monetization. Two primary sources of monetization of connected TVs are subscriptions and Ads which could be in the form of SVOD (Subscription based VOD), TVOD (Transactional VOD) or AVOD (Ad based VOD). Define your monetization strategy keeping in mind the audience and the platform capabilities and limitations. Subscriptions are the most prevalent monetization method used by most of the players. However, there are limitations in integrating ad networks on certain platforms. You can leverage in app-purchase on platforms such as Roku and Apple that allows a seamless buying experience for users. Apart from subscriptions and ads, retailers are now incorporating complete e-commerce capabilities in their smart TV Apps. QVC, HSN, H&M, LC, and TJC are some of the brands which have come up with TV apps with complete commerce capabilities, where end users can make direct purchase of their products.

4. Define the feature set: To begin with, you should identify what part of your current web and mobile features will your user like to see and experience on a big screen in their living rooms. Your users may not be needing everything from your web or mobile to be part of TV application. Carefully select features that are really useful and will be of interest to your end users. For example, complete user registration flow on a TV may be a bad idea because it will be very cumbersome for the user to fill in all the details using a remote. Rather, you should come up with an easy to use and seamless login experience.

5. Build user engagement by leveraging native user experience: Smart TV industry is very fragmented and lacks standardization. All different TVs, streaming devices, and gaming consoles have different pointing devices and mostly different native functions and features. Using a Roku TV remote vis a vis using a Tizen TV or a Apple TV remote are vastly different. The end users are used to their respective pointing devices and all the native features associated with it. You should design user experience for each of the platforms keeping in mind the native controls for each of the platform.  Smart TV opens up with some really smart interaction possibilities. You can leverage Motion and Audio controls to help engage users with Smart TVs through basic human interactions. Think of how you can pamper your user who is already in a passive lean back mode, by providing the ability to search through audio controls. You can also come up with some unique experiences that can be shared with family and friends while consuming content on Smart TVs.

6. Cross Platform Development and Testing: You will need a team with varied technical skills to develop for different platforms. While platforms like Samsung Tizen, LG, and Panasonic leverages JavaScript, Roku development requires knowledge of BrightScript. Apple TV app can be developed using Swift 2.0 and Java/Android SDK experience is required to develop Android TV app. It is recommended to bring in a team who have a prior experience to develop smart tv apps as there is a steep learning curve. Avoid monkey testing and spend time in developing test scenarios and test cases. This will help your team think through all TV specific scenarios which might be completely new to your testing team. It is also very important to review and implement the development and app submission guidelines shared by each of these platforms at an early stage of the development. This will help you avoid re-work at a later stage and will reduce the number of iterations on app submissions and rejections. Conduct testing on actual devices rather than emulators. Emulators of different platforms are still not stable and therefore it is best to test the apps on actual devices. Identify TVs with different resolutions (HD, Full HD, and UHD) and define your test strategy to include testing cycles across each resolution types.

To conclude, the Connected TV landscape is quite fragmented at the present and you will need to make efforts to identify the platforms as per your geography and customers. You will also need to take care of multiple diversified channels as part of your digital strategies and programs. But the Good News is that to develop Connected TV experiences you will be able to leverage a lot of your existing systems. Now is the right time for making Connected TVs an essential part of digital strategies for your brands. This will help you keep your brand ahead of its competitors and will provide consumers another opportunity to interact with your brands right from their living rooms.



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