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?”
We have yet another set of statistics that declare the living room TV Viewing habits are changing. Let us look at this from another perspective: I would put it to you that it is not TV Viewing that has changed it is human habits that arhave changed due to the advent of ‘New Technologies’. If you were to take away the smart-phones and tablets from a TV centric family (as I have done at home recently) you will see that the TV viewing on the BIG Screen once again takes principle place. Not book-reading, or board-game-playing but TV, and it quickly becomes a fight for the remote control with unhappy, sulky members of the family who are not interested in what the others are viewing….however we noticed that slowly but surely a migration back to sitting as a group with sharing-as-a-group takes place and an agreement to share what is on the TV, as it did in the time before these other access devices entrered the fray. As a family we searched for common-content that all the family could get a little something from, be it a documentary, a film or even a cartoon that pleased everyone . We became part of our children’s TV world and they ours, once again. We also adhered to the ratings and respected the different viewing options based on quality of content – NO MORE VIOLENT, SEX RIDDLED, TRASHY OR STOOPID content. It was a pleasant and fulfilling exercise. During the ads we went to the loo, talked and did what we always used to do during the Ad breaks – Watched some Ads and not others… (BTW Ads do not require ‘viewing only’ for them to have effect – the audio part subcontiously enters the brain even if you are not watching!).
Allowing the phones back instantly became the new distraction thus proving that easy access to communication (messaging), access to fun & stupid videos (via the internet) and access to ‘work and private’ emails urghhh, highlighted a penchant for instant gratification and removed the need to ‘work to find common-TV Centric ground’ and once again enabled what we call ‘gap-filling’ . Each to their own simplistic and shallow needs. The IAB piece on chaging TV Viewing Habits IAB Article states the following:
extract: For example, the incidence of checking emails is consistent during TV programmes and ad breaks (both 34 per cent) whilst texting or Instant Messaging is only 1 per cent higher during the ad break than the programme. The device tracking showed, overall, there was actually more online activity per minute during a programme than an ad break.
The information in the article is not startling and supports the findings of the experiment we carried out at home . It shows that if the viewer is not fully engaged with the programme they will still feel the need to do something else. We saw distraction in the form of speaking and fidgeting or leaving the couch when the TV show did not fully delight a particular family member. So what does that tell us? It only tells us that TV is all about engaging the viewer as much as possible. It has never been that we all sat avidly from start to finish without some form of mental distraction, UNLESS it was a TOTALLY compelling content from beginning to end.
In the old days we had a lot less content to choose from and it was a lot less ‘same-same’, as it is now in the world of 24 Hour channel stuffing. It is not TV Viewing that has changed it is the enablement of filling the ‘distraction time’ without having to get up and do something else and it is the masses of same-same stuff on TV that drives people to look for fresh and exciting, different content elsewhere, which makes the stats skewed. The people surveyed must have been sat in front of the BIG Screen for those statistics to have been gathered…The only difference is from yesteryear to today we have technology that has made it simple to ‘visit another place’ for instant gratification. The dwindling ‘attention span’ is bad content and boredom, no matter how minor, leads to ‘gap filling’.
And to finish: The Kettle Surge moment, written in the article, is also a just sign of the developing times – We have much more efficient coffe machines and probably hear the sound of corks popping much more, as NESPRESSO and WINE has replaced the TEA drinking of yesteryear. LOL.
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!
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.
I believe that Amazon has already hatched this plan …
I have spent the last few days listening to several Analysts and many TV professionals give their opinions on the state of the TV market both worldwide and in their regions – We as delegates sit and usually suffer death by Powerpoint at these conferences. Sometimes the speakers are good but in the main they are sales pitches and that is tiring…However TVConnect CEE was not that sort of event.
The quality of the material, intensity of the speakers and the reality delivered by all the speakers was very good. What was highlighted is that there is too much ‘noise’ concerning the death of traditional PayTV due to the rise of OTT. This merely shrouds the reality as the following statistics divulge.
- There is a SATURATION of OTT services; that we know
- However PayTV is in GROWTH mode everywhere
- The press needs its daily does of Netflix but Netflix success reality is also somewhat different
- Netflix will build a BIG subscriber base but many of them will be PayTV Subscribers
- In the USA OTT revenue is only circa 9% of PayTV revenues
- The traditional Disc market (DVD & BluRay) annual revenues are higher than OTT
- The THREAT from OTT is OVERSTATED
For the last 5 years OTT has dominated the conversation however OTT has hardly made any impact on traditional services…PayTV was shaken by the entrance of these pretenders to the throne, however it has adapted and continues to react positively in order to change the business to both retain and grow the PayTV customer base.
I have met Josh Sapan, and I admire his passion, insight and flair. I agree with him when he rails against analytics and the creative side of making content – I feel that he is absolutely right to state that the the future of content production should not be based on analytics, algorithms, and big data. What AMC is bringing to the market in terms of content is already great because thier creativity abounds. Creativity and flair has to be nurtured; it must be allowed to fly free. Content creation guided by algorithms and too much kowtowing to everyone’s opinion will see us end up with banal same-same productions that break no boundaries and do not push the envelope of imagination.
I loved ‘Mad Men’ but I could not get into ‘Breaking Bad’, unable to get past season 1, yet amongst my peers I was a complete outsider on this particular show; that does not mean it was not a great show, brilliantly done. Ultimately why the hell should my opinion count – I am a viewer not a creative writer of TV shows?
Who better for guidance in the scripting and content flow for future shows but the people whose job it is to come up with the goods – I wouldn’t ask the local butcher to write a show and I wouldn’t ask a hollywood storyteller to be a butcher – horses for courses I say and let’s please stop trying to give credibility to computer algorithms goddamit. NO I say! It should not be ‘Joe the plumber’, or ‘Fred, the banker’ or any Tom, Dick & Harry who has shouted out on Twitter or Facebook and the like, that should determine how a show plot is developed. Leave to the professionals.
goHDR 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.