What has the emergence of Internet TV service providers like Netflix, Hulu and HBO GO given you? We take a lot for granted when it comes to new exciting services that add to and enrich our home entertainment experience, but around halfway through a weekend of binge watching Marco Polo, the questions still pops up. And the quick answer is obviously that we have gotten great new content. In the 2014 Emmy’s Netflix got 31 nominations, compared to 99 for HBO, and they walked away with 7 of them when the show was over.
However, in addition to new quality content it has also brought a whole bunch of new devices and remote controls to your living room area, or the fridge, if you’re as absent-minded as me. And once you do find them all you are stuck with even more devices and remotes than ever before – with Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast – and the most recent addition the Nexus Player – sitting side-by-side with your pay TV set-top box.
As a consequence, the user experience in most living rooms still leaves much to be desired. It’s not just hitting play, sitting back and enjoying the show, but rather the inconvenience of finding the right remote and then the right channel on the right device, before you can even start thinking of the content.
Which brings us to the next challenge. With the abundance of content available today, both live and on demand (we are literally talking about thousands and thousands of movies, shows and sport events) how are you supposed to find the things you’ll actually enjoy watching?
The answer isn’t new; it’s been the same and will stay the same over time even though the technology behind it might change. It’s actually the same answer that Einstein was looking for even though he was dealing with slightly more complex components. What you need is a unified solution (or in that other case a unified theory).
Because even after the entrance of Internet TV in our living room there is still some important links missing in the TV experience. Being able to offer the best of both worlds by combining Internet TV and live TV in one single device – controlled by one single remote – whilst providing easy and intuitive content discovery, is still not a reality in most homes.
And here the TV operator has an important role to play, to be the one to gather and package both live and on demand content in a single solution, regardless of distribution technology, and enable this through a great user experience. That’s really all we binge watchers want. We want easier access and a smoother way of finding our next favorite show.
Also, we don’t necessarily want to get rid of our regular linear TV as pure Internet TV services aren’t serving the total need for Pay TV consumers, as shown in a recent focus group study conducted in New York by Bernstein.
The study showed that even people that identified themselves as “highly likely to cut the chord in the next 6 months” said that the advantages of doing so were minimal. One reason for sticking with the bundle is the diversity of programming and the convenience. While Internet TV is more of an individual product, pay TV is more of a household product, serving the diverse interests of multiple members of the household.
So even though OTT or Internet TV providers have been a most welcome addition to our everyday lives and home entertainment, they are still just that. An addition. Something to give us the diverse and rich experience that we have been looking for, both by releasing great new material but also by challenging the more established service providers to do the same. Content remains the once and future king, and those who can provide both Internet and linear TV as well as make relevant recommendation, will reign supreme beside it. And our living rooms will be that much better for it.
Peter Rosenberg, Director Product Marketing