Millennials are killing TV – LOL!


While researching this topic I noticed a slight difference in the definition of the group Millennials.  WJSchroer defines them as born between 1977-1994. Pew Research says this of Millennials in the chart below = Generation Y (1981 -1998).

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  • McCrindle Research Center defines Millennials as being 1980-1994 and “Gen Z” (i.e. post-millennials) as being 1995-2009
  • Strauss and Howe use 1982 as the Millennials’ starting birth year and 2004 as the last birth year.

We use the term Millennial very liberally in 2016. They are seen as the group that will decide the future of many things, including Television.  We constantly hear that Millennials do not consume TV like the other groups before them.  They have a dislike of pay-TV services and do not have Televisions in their homes (Errrm! What if they live with people of a previous generation?).  Is all of this noise around Millennials a true gauge of the future of the world of business?  I have a feeling that if you were to look at those born in 1981 and those born in 1998 you would see an enormous difference in their perception of the world and how they function in it.   Millennials are not all born equal.

‘Millennials’, like the Gen X group, is just too broad a group for it to mean anything.  It has become a psychobabble term for writers and speakers to put some credibility on a particular target market, to justify their reasoning for their theories on how to win them over…It gives them kudos, and we do not question. I am however, questioning the use of this term as an accurate or relevant marketing justification.

We use this pigeon-holing method because we need factual evidence i.e. numbers to support our ideas and conclusions on modern consumption.  e.g. Millennials don’t do this; Millennials don’t do that, and by the way here is a pie chart to prove it. These Millennial statistics worry me because they can easily deliver misinformation, they do not go deep enough to find the real cause of a generation behavioural shift.  I just read a fantastic article on this subject by  Laura Marsh @lmlauramarsh – The Myth of the Millennial as Cultural Rebel | New Republic.  In it, she talks about reasons why Millennials car share, flatshare, dont buy houses, marry late etc.  She states that ‘Millennials in the USA are feeling the pain of lower living standards,’ which therefore naturally impacts their spending and attitude towards the world around them.  Laura hits the nail on the head many times in this wonderfully written piece. She writes, … when headlines of “Millennials are killing the X industry” could just as easily read, “Millennials are locked out of the X industry.” There’s nothing like being told precarity is actually your cool lifestyle choice.”

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Just to wrap this up – My argument is that Millennials are not any different than previous generations, other than they live in an era where technology has enormously changed the world they live in.  In fact it has changed the world for all generations still living.  I recently read that we have now reached the tipping point in society where technology is actually causing more unemployment than the creation of new jobs. This could be a life-event factor as Millennials have less disposable income. Millennials also choose to stay single longer.  However they do have many ‘life-events’ just like everyone before them … So while they are young, adventurous, virile and sporty, why would they plonk themselves in front of a TV.  I see a lot of them down the pub having fun, socialising or out playing sport.  What I believe is that as they grow older Millennials settle down, get married, have babies, buy houses and eventually flop in front of the TV when tired after a hard day in the office.  Marketing to them in that mode changes, but they are still considered somehow a different audience.

When you dig deeper, it is indeed revealing that there is a flaw in the narrative regarding the group we call the Millennials.  The people who are killing industries with their non-conformist lifestyle.

 

 

This Was TV Yesterday-2

TV Viewing HAS NOT Changed – The Gap Filling Has!


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.

 

 

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 …

CONTENT IS STILL ALL THE YESTERDAYS OF TOMORROW’S TV


This Was TV Yesterday-2Once upon a time we switched on the TV and watched a programme or two, in the evening after we had tea, when the kids were in bed and it was time to settle down to relax.  TV Time was limited as the TV signal would shut down at night and eight-year-old Carole Hersee would appear (in the UK at least).  We had a choice amongst Light Entertainment and Drama, Documentaries, News and Sport all chosen for us and delivered when somebody else thought best.

Life is a little different now because: 

Today we want TV at Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere and we want to watch What We Want, When We Want, Where We Want. We want to watch Live TV, with the use of Pause and Rewind Live TV.  And if we miss missed the beginning of something we need Start Over TV so that we can go back to the beginning of the programme that we have joined late.  We need Catch-Up TV for shows we have missed.  We need to Store Live TV programmes for later viewing on a Hard Drive (Personal Video Recorder) or a Removable Storage device with the possibility of using Series Recording for Binge Watching. We also want to be able to Side Load content onto a Companion Device to consume later when in the garden, or perhaps travelling on a bus or train.   We want a Whole Home PVR system or Network PVR so that we can have Follow Me TV that allows us to start watching in one room and then take the content into another room and join it from where we left off in the other room.  We want Companion Screen driven TV Everywhere so we can Throw and Fetch programmes from those devices to different screens in the home.   We want Over The Top TV so we can have non-Linear content and not be restricted to a Schedule.  We want Interactive TV with Applications that allow us access to Weather, or Horoscope or Games and a lot of other stuff all delivered over the Cloud and Home Network.  We want to be able to Search for, and Recommend content to other people on Social Media.  We don’t want this on a STB or CPE we want all of this on a Smart or Connected TV, in 3D or Ultra HD 4K or perhaps Super Ultra HD 8K.  We need it in High Dynamic Range, so that we get the best quality on a Curved OLED, millimetre thick, Flatscreen TV:  24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week, 365 Days of the Year completely uninterrupted.

TV Content has however NOT broken the boundaries that technology has.  Geo-Blocking, Distribution Rights, Landing Rights, Syndication, Franchising and all that shenanigans is hindering and hampering not helping, other than to further slow the transformation of TV – Perhaps that is a good thing?

In 2008 USA Cable Announced – The end of the cable set-top box? Now we have RDK!


The end of the cable set-top box? Yes, Comcast says

Back in January 2008 Comcast CEO Brian Roberts predicted that by the end of the year, and I share the quote.  “Virtually the entire cable industry will support Tru2way,” an “open cable” platform rendering the box moot.

Now I have understood that there is another Iinitiative that actually started in 2009, which is in full hype mode in 2013 called RDK which is designed to make STBs Faster to port and more flexible.  I guess USA Cable still needs STBs after all Brian?

Oh we are a fickle industry!

Open Source for TV – Does Canonical Hold The Key?


There has been quite a few initiatives around the Open Source aspect for Software in the Digital TV domain. Open Source is not Standardisation but in effect it is, if it becomes ubiquitous.

The lowest common denominator for the software is a decent OS stack and Engine. Canonical has the foundation upon which to build an Open Source model for the TV industry. Will ‘people’ allow that to happen? That all depends on the age old problem of ‘politics’.

Broadcasters and Operators can gain HUGE Savings in CAPEX and OPEX with Companion Screen Interactivity


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Companion Screen TV

 

This is one of the best articles I have read on the trials and tribulations of the 2nd Screen-Companion Screen and their role in Television interactivity.  As you might know I am a confirmed Interactive TV enthusiast, having been in this industry sector since its very early days.   The main dificulty in Interactive TV has always been the ROI.  How do you make money at it?   For the Broadcaster and Operator it is fast becoming more and more clear, but they have to change their thinking with respect to this area of Television and embrace a change in direction.  Why?  Cost Saving without cutting head-count, service reduction can be achieved and an actual revenue generating service can be implemented.  This makes sense for the long term financial health of teh Broadcasters & Operators.   Companion Screen Interactivity (SaaS based) is a natural CAPEX/OPEX ‘cost-saving’ exercise. We know that Embedded Middleware in STBs and TVs is a very costly exercise for advanced services and interactivity.  It is costly to License – Implement – Test – Run a Back Office and Pay to have Applications developed.  It needs constant Software Support and there are, in the main, run-time costs associated with most Middleware systems.   It is fragmented!   For the Broadcaster/Operator Interactive TV OPEX (SaaS model) can be amortised against the TV-Everywhere/Catch-Up Services Infrastructure already in place.  It makes sense to move to a SaaS based service as the Companion Screens are bought by the Consumer not by the Broadcaster/Operator.   STBs and TVs can also be cost reduced as they will require less intelligence.  Apps are/can be/will be downloaded for free.  Advertisers, Programme makers and the Channels can exploit this synchronised, always connected 2nd Screen in the home.    There may well be dedicated TV+Companion Screen sales at CE level in the future.  Although this will take time to evolve as a market I believe it is a natural path for Interactive Services.   Please read the Article linked below to get a good overview of the already fragmented market, the dificult marriage of many players and the reluctance of the Broadcasters/Operators who have not seen the obvious route they should be taking.

http://www.digitaltveurope.net/25348/good-companions/