The Reality of the Lazy TV Audience


So let me start with a few extracts from a blog piece that was written by Mr. Will McKinley a New York writer and author. Why? Well, I want this subject matter (Streaming versus Linear TV) to not be seen as my opinion (because I don’t have the clout when it comes to people taking note of what I say … But I do say things that other more famous people say, often way before them – Sometimes that is frustrating. Sometimes it reassuringly delights.)

I love the convenience of streaming. It’s thrilling to have easy access to every episode of shows (and movies) I love, and have loved for my entire life. But, in a landscape where there’s so much choice, having everything can almost feel like having nothing. There’s no call-to-action, no immediacy, no reason why I should watch one thing over another right now. But perhaps more importantly, there’s no shared experience…

But perhaps most importantly, a linear network means that someone else is doing the work for you. Because sometimes you just want to plop down on the couch and watch, not assemble your own custom lineup from across multiple streaming platforms (and I speak from experience, because I subscribe to pretty much all of them)…

Will on-demand streaming be a dominant force in TV? No doubt. In a sense, it already is. But creatively curated linear programming will always be an important option. They call TV viewers couch potatoes, not couch amateur TV executives for a very good reason. Never underestimate the laziness of the American public.

While this ‘Linear versus Streaming TV’ narrative plays out across the world, it was interesting to see at IBC 2016 show in Amsterdam that TV technologists can now introduce SVOD content into EPGs as if it were a Linear channel. There are also companies that will, for a small fee per annum, curate Free on-line programmes for you (e.g. Rabbit TV’s Freecast) so that you do not have to do the hard work of being your own amateur TV executive – Thank you, Will McKinley, for that expression, which I too have used in many previous articles to express the burden TV viewing is becoming.

Let’s not forget that TV, despite its modernisation, is a product that has to appeal to the masses. i.e. The old, not so old and the very young. I don’t like to use the term Millennials because they too will have life-events that will make them lazy couch potatoes. So as far as the majority of TV viewers is concerned, being entertained must not be hard work. So if TV streaming becomes the norm, we will be expected to be our own TV show curator, which means that we will end up stuck in a viewing rut, as our limited knowledge of what is available from the global pool of entertainment is limited by our ability to memorise the planet’s content. Yes, we are we now expected to take the cognitive burden of knowing what content is available from what provider and whether we have already seen it or not by having to dig through all the buried content.

Live broadcasts are also an opportunity to encourage sampling by channel-surfing new viewers, in a way that streaming will never offer.

I agree with Mr. McKinley when he says that we still need the lazy person’s option for a long time to come.

A Short Play Called ‘The Death of TV’


Setting the scene: The evening light is dimming.  It’s 8pm and the children are snuggled down in bed and the husband says,  “Dinner is almost ready honey, can you find us something to watch on TV?” …

 

Picking up the remote the wife switches on the TV …

“I don’t know darling!” “Why not honey?”  “Because there is only a bunch of icons on the TV and I cannot see any TV shows, that guide thingy we used to have, it’s gone darling!”  “Gone! Why would they do that honey, it was very convenient.”  “I heard that you are supposed to know what you want to watch darling, you just ask for it now.”  “Really honey, OK!”  “Are there more programmes like that documentary on South Africa we saw the other night?”  “Maybe darling, what was the programme called?” … “Ermm, what channel was it on?”  “I cannot remember darling.” “Neither can I honey.” “Oh!” “Now what shall we do?” … “Ask the TV honey its got that voice thingy activated.”  …

Wife fiddles with remote control – pushes button …

“TV,  Can you find me any travel programmes about South Africa, but not about South Africa as we have seen that, what about somewhere else please.”

Screen icon turns … searching … searching … searching … TV replies

“Can you be more specific, I have 24,000 programmes on South Africa and 30,000 programmes not on South Africa and I have several shows called Somewhere Else.”  “I have them in English, Greek, Spanish, Arabic, French, Portuguese, Polish, German and 25 other languages, what do you want me to do?”

8.45pm: “Have you found anything honey?” “No darling, I’m afraid not … its not that instant anymore.”  “Shall I put the radio on honey?”

The End.

If I Can Talk To My TV Aren’t TV Apps Dead?


The subject of this piece is navigation, search and recommendation on modern day television platforms. The standard way of navigating through the hundreds of channels via the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) is heavily criticised. The EPG is called antiquated; Linear TV channel and programme line-ups are very old-fashioned is all we hear.  Surely we have a better system?  We know we do and it is called Apps!  The future of Television is Apps is it not?  After all we do Apps on the telephone, tablet, so why not on the TV? Let’s have an Apps dashboard approach for the navigation of content.

Simple! Errrm! Nope!

An Apps driven navigation platform expects everyone to have a mental programme/film database for the plethora of coloured tiles (Apps) that hide content within them.  As we split the content into a myriad of ‘coloured tiles’ on an interface, we all start only watching the top ten that we can remember.  There are thousands of programmes that do not get watched, not because the content is bad,  but because it just never appears anywhere.  Then the Apps all need to fight it out for prime position on the 42″ screen. Everyone wants to be the only entertainment theatre in town, so it is a real-estate war (As it is on the EPG).  Just as in Google search if you are not on the 1st page between 1 and 10 you are purportedly toast.  Android TV just added 600 Apps.  This is just the start.  So is there an answer to rid us of all of this fragmented, App, coloured tile, buried content complexity?  Can we offer a better system that makes it easier for the consumer? Well, it seems we can. It is already deployed. It is called voice!

“Hello! Is it ME your looking for?” Yes, we can just talk to the device and ask it for something to watch. Yes, we can just ask the device for a particular film, programme or TV personality and the system will present all the options available to us across the TV eco-system. It is called Universal Search and it is a new way of navigating the millions of programmes available on the system. Simple! As we travel around all the TV business to business seminars, people are raving about this new system and how this system is the saving grace for accessing all TV content.

Wait a minute! Does this not mean the end of the App? Because in the case of Universal Search it quite honestly does not matter behind which brand a particular content features anymore, does it? It’s just stored somewhere, and we ask for it with voice and then it is presented in a selectable list. No need to bother yourself with what sits behind what App; woohoo! Who cares whether it is is Hulu or Netflix, or NowTV or Roku or ESPN or Disney it is the content that we want to watch … So we just ask for the content and it will appear!

Simple.

Wait a minute! As we will never see anything presented in any format in this new buried content paradigm how will we get to know what content is available across all of our services connected to our TV? Perhaps we can go back to the old paper TV Guide and can look up content that is available (Like a Karaoke Catalogue) and then holler to the device so it can do all the work. The TV industry can then stop wasting money on all this Apps malarkey and the need for continual software upgrading, supporting of all their complex individual back-ends et al. The TV world can just fill a big repository with wonderful content and go about promoting it…We as consumers will get what we want when we want where we want, by asking for it…and in any language.

Wait a Minute! How will the content be monetized? Well, as it will be true ‘a la carte’, so you only pay for what you watch, or not, if it is Ad supported.

Simple.

I believe that Amazon has already hatched this plan …

HDR – I Have Seen The Light


cartoongoHDR was a finalist in the DTG Innovation Awards, and had a presence on the DTG stand at IBC 2015.  This is the first time that I have seen the light as far as HDR is concerned.  Up until now I have not seen any good reason as to why HDR should be advertised as a ‘product’, rather than a technology ‘feature’ or ‘option’ for the TV industry.  Desperate times needs desperate measures I suppose, especially in a market where 3D flopped and 4K is being chased by 8K.    At the IBC 2015 show all the furor was around HDR offering brighter, better pictures, however I finally saw a real and very good practical use for the technology being demonstrated by goHDR a spin-off from the University of Warwick, England.

goHDR was able to show how HDR technology can be used to enhance ‘segments’ of the screen or ‘items’ in the shot. i.e. in difficult lighting conditions (e.g. outside broadcasting) at, let’s say, St Andrews, you could highlight a golf ball and track it in a cloudy sky enhancing its visibility as a unique enhanced HDR object … and there were many other examples of other use-cases.  In simple terms goHDR could be described as the video version of Dolby Atmos, with its manageable ‘sound-objects’…For those who are not familiar with Atmos, you are now able to manipulate sound objects to create an immersive multi-dimensional environment in a theatre.  Imagine hearing a helicopter that is flying from behind you, over your head and then enters the screen, or an arrow shot towards you flashes past your left ear and you hear it fly past … OK, OK it’s got to be heard to be believed.  It is truly amazing.  However in this story HDR was invented for video and designed to enhance the picture quality of a TV in both HD and UltraHD.  Without the technobabble, HDR is simply all about high contrast at the pixel level that creates depth and dimension and makes colors seem punchier…however it is applied to the whole picture on the TV, not objects in the scene as shown by goHDR.

The technology that goHDR demonstrated has to be fully analysed for its relevance to TV and whether or not it really does what it says on the tin,  however, the basic understanding is that it really has taken HDR to a new place and, by the way, it works very well on handheld devices.  Suffice to say I saw its relevance in Surveillance i.e. HD & UltraHD CCTV, also for Military, Scientific, Broadcasting, Medical and many other areas where you might want to manipulate a segment or item in a video using HDR for optimum effect.  I feel that I have seen the light and can now be more positive about this technology.  But hey! Don’t let me tell you the story, let the wonderfully ebullient Professor Alan Chalmers explain it to you at goHDR explained his enthusiasm is uplifting.

The Problem With Internet TV (OTT) and Child Protection – Not all Parents Care!


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Interestingly we are finally seeing the truth about Internet based TV (OTT): It is just another form of PayTV on an unregulated transmission medium, dah! dah!  Sorry about that but it is nothing earth shattering; however it finally has people writing about this obvious fact.   The ‘do-it-yourself’ package is described in this recent Advanced Television article: Cord Cutting Unrealistic Option is seen as probably costing even more for a consumer than a packaged payTV Operator offer.  Not only that, the author Colin Mann quotes Alan Wolk of TDG who states that there is no ‘User Interface’ that makes for a cohesive and pleasant experience.  In a previous blog post Changing the transmission media not the business model I had already highlighted the issues of more or at least same cost and clearly noted the backwards move in terms of experience.  However there is another very important issue, which has not been addressed by the ‘oracles’ of the future of TV and that is ‘unregulated access to content’.  Most DIY bundles have Apps that require access to Internet content – There is no Age Verification required.  That is an oversight in a very mobile, smartphone driven society.  So I have also been wondering when the ‘Do-it-yourself’ payTV bundle and free for all access might come under the scrutiny of the Regulators for both Consumer and Child Protection issues?

I already see that my very young children are exposed to some terrible things via the increasingly pornographic Internet, via Twitter feeds, via search engines etc.  Now that TV is a watch what-you-want-when-you-want experience on the Internet it requires parents to be careful –  The so called ‘watershed’ does not exist on the Internet and there appears to be no regulation apart from personal parental control, which has to set on a myriad of channels, devices and websites – BUT ISN’T.   That is almost a full time job in this mobile-free-for-all-do-it-yourself-media-world.  I happen to care!  I try to protect my offspring as much as possible from the gratuitous violence, sex and ever increasing psychopathic, narcissistic media offerings… (e.g. Walter White toy figures for sale at Toys-R-US).  However, I am fighting against adversity, especially if my 12 year-old is exposed to shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ as well as a myriad of free ‘Porn’ on a classmates smartphone browser at school.  I cannot supervise every moment of my son’s viewing habits outside of the home…and we happily tout OTT (Internet TV) as an in and out of the home experience.  We are also told that youngsters don’t watch Big Screen TV anymore – So where is the protection for the young, the vulnerable and the stupid in this mobile-free-for-all-do-it-yourself-media-world?

Not all parents care what their children are exposed to that is why we have regulation.  The regulators should be ahead of the game and not late like they have been with Music Videos, finally realizing that they should be ‘rated’.  In 2015 that is very, very late … Listening to my very, very young daughter signing ‘I wanna Sex You Up’, now exposed to ‘twerking’ – This is just not right!  We have a constant battle to keep them well grounded and not let their malleable minds be damaged.  I am not a prude and we have a healthy open relationship with the kids, but I cannot be the good parent if all around me doesn’t care and exposes them to the ever failing controls of the world’s what-you-want-when-you-want media access.

Why TV shows that contain Drugs, Sex, Bigotry and Violence on the Internet be treated any different to that on Broadcast TV is beyond me!

 

UBER BE SCARED: Ordering a Taxi on Television


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UBER BE SCARED –  It appears that you have a new competitor – The wonderful world of HBBTV has delivered its latest ‘App’ and it may rock the Taxi App World of the Smart-Phone … I cannot imagine when you might be watching TV and suddenly think – I will order a Taxi ! … Well the Czech Republic thinks so.  Good luck with that!