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The emergence of a new global TV landscape

by Phil McCann , 05.09.2012

TV is in the middle of a technology revolution which has the potential to completely change the TV-viewing culture and experience. A range of technologies is contributing to this revolution including Connected TV, HDTV, 3DTV, time-shifted viewing and the ability to watch TV programs on a number of devices.

These are having a significant impact on how TV manufacturers, established broadcasters, advertisers and researchers engage with their target audiences. The capacity to entice consumers to vote, bet and buy (via tablets and smartphones) while watching TV means that the global TV landscape is offering broadcasters and brands new and unique business opportunities.

Our global study[1] into content and device-viewing habits shows that developing countries have exploited the opportunities to consume and engage with media across a variety of platforms to a greater extent than their developed-country counterparts. Not only do countries such as India, Brazil and especially China view an increasing amount of content via second screens, but they also use TV in more advanced ways, in particular utilizing the smart functionality. Their rising levels of advanced TV interaction, paired with their higher motivation to interact with programs, means that consumers in China, India and Brazil are essentially the early adopters of the moment.

In contrast, consumers in traditional TV markets such as the US, the UK and Germany largely continue to see their TV set as the center of their content viewing, favouring watching TV content in the context of the traditional living room set-up.

As David Tice, of GfK North America[2], suggests, “TV is still king within the US, and consumers in this market want the biggest screen possible so they can enjoy the ultimate TV-viewing experience.” Nevertheless, how content is consumed is changing, albeit within the same living-room environment. An appetite for second screening is growing in developed markets. Tablets, laptops and smartphones are used to actively to engage and seek information related to the TV content that is being viewed.

Indeed, there is global commonality in terms of key purchase drivers when consumers consider their next TV set. Alongside the obvious barrier of price, the highest drivers of purchase are screen format and level of HD capability, with these factors proving far more important to consumers than whether or not their TV is internet enabled. Findings also show that globally, consumers feel uninspired by the social content of programs to interact regularly. Broadcasters must work creatively to integrate social elements into the fabric of programs to engage more consumers. So, while advanced functionality is more likely to be adopted as penetration increases, it is clear that this is not yet a base on which to build a marketing strategy.

In fact, our study suggests that intuitive control will be the next big growth area in TV, with high interest in touch and gesture TV control as a replacement to the traditional remote control. Microsoft’s Kinect technology is proving to be a breeding ground for such gesture-based interfaces, moving away from social gaming and towards visual content, such as catch-up TV and streaming movies. Meanwhile, with smartphones developing beyond the traditional boundaries of a cell phone it is likely that this technology, having already defined its usability credentials in terms of these advanced control methods, could be used both as an alternative to and in tandem with TV viewing in the form of a ‘second screen’.

But what does this mean for the future?

It would be unwise to suggest that TV is on the brink of losing its position as the top content-viewing device. However, the growth of online catch-up and streaming services means devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and games consoles are far more appealing to viewers looking for content rather than a mechanism for consuming it. As a result of this technology, manufacturers and OS developers could hold the key to future content delivery with viewers looking towards the most convenient and intuitive method of consuming this content across their device ecosystems.

[1] Survey was conducted by GfK, covering 6,027 consumers in 13 markets. All participants were interviewed between June and July 2012 using an online methodology

[2] Tele-depth interview conducted with GfK analyst in North America in May 2012