Rob Sutherland, Managing Director and CEDIA member, Inspired Dwellings, takes a look at how TV viewing habits are changing and the likely impact for installation businesses.
The transformation of the television viewing experience is well underway.
Technological advancements are enabling consumers more options and giving them much greater control over their viewing experience. The days of only five channels, hard copy TV guides and multiple remote controls are long gone.
Today, consumers have access to unimaginable amounts of digital media content by simply downloading free catch-up apps or subscribing to on-demand internet TV services.
Netflix and additional video-on-demand (VOD) services, such as Amazon Prime, challenged traditional viewing habits, and continue to do so by offering an alternative, more convenient way of accessing digital content.
They provide consumers appealing content 24/7 and match their lifestyle by allowing them to watch their favourite show on the go. VOD services are also providing new award-winning content, with a faster release rate that allows subscribers to watch TV aired in the US in a similar time frame. These benefits are not only differentiating the brand of VOD services, but allowing them to succeed as viable competitors. It is no surprise why they are gaining millions of viewers each year and global subscribers of VOD services are estimated to grow to 199m households by 2020 (Mintel 2014).
So what does the future hold and how will that affect our role as home technology professionals?
In my view, we are likely to see a greater degree of merging between TV broadcasters, content owners and technology companies. As a TV broadcaster, adding services is vital to tackle the threat of substitute VOD services and is something which Sky has already taken into consideration by launching its new product line, Sky Q.
Sky Q delivers a blend of live content with on-demand TV to emphasise a ‘fluid TV watching’ experience and reinforce the beginning of the evolution of a channel.
Content curation will also be important due to the huge growth of content competing for the consumer’s attention. Investing in the correct content – existing or the creation of new content – for the right target market and organising it appropriately will enable companies to survive during the TV transformation period.
As well as investing in content, TV broadcasters and new entrants will need to think about how and where this content will be watched. Connected devices where digital media can be streamed and viewed are increasingly on the market, and thus a connected home will effectively complement the future of TV.
Within the next few years the number of connected VOD boxes and viewing options from devices such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Blu-Ray’s and games consoles are likely to increase. All these devices are equipped with their own remotes and controllers.
Our services as installers will be increasingly in demand to integrate operation of the various boxes and services so that we can create a seamless, user-friendly experience through a single remote control or touch panel platform from the likes of Control4 or Crestron. In this evolving world, minimal clutter and a simpler user experience will be key triggers for homeowners.
In the future, we will also begin to see wearables being used to control the media system. As a result, personalisation will become more central to a consumers TV viewing experience; devices will be able to know what you want to watch and when.
For these connected devices to integrate and work seamlessly with one another to deliver the best TV viewing experience, good cabling infrastructure, an enterprise grade network and ensuring that the client has the best broadband options will be critically important factors. Together, these should ensure that as the future of TV continues to change, our profession will be well-placed to benefit.