Small sevs

Sam Evans

Experience & Strategy Director

TV's Turn to Catch Up

The digitisation and consumption of TV online now plays a huge part in our daily lives. With the major distributors (with a terrestrial heritage) and the latest dot com streaming services offering us live and on-demand content, accessing and digesting their media couldn’t be easier. Although could it?

With many recent surveys showing that daily time spent online has now overtaken time spent watching TV, it’s more than plausible that people are shifting their viewing behaviours. Although media consumption statistics for me, are a rather grey area. People watch TV online don’t they? I guess I'm stating the obvious here but TV and online are becoming one in the same thing. Every dusty set top box in the land has an ethernet cable hanging out the back and for the lucky ones, internal WIFI.

So where's the problem? A screens a screen after all. Well, this new generation of TV through mixed media in my eyes has a bit to learn. It seems ever more apparent that it’s TV’s turn to play catch up. It’s time to learn from digital best practice and with my day to day all about giving the user the best possible experience, I do have a few bugbears:

Improvements in real estate would make for huge improvements.

  • FILTER! FILTER! Where are you? (I’m currently considering a Fenton remix campaign)
  • Why do I have 30 million buttons to interact with? It’s not a Saab dashboard!
  • There is a real lack of any sensitivity towards screen real estate.
  • Searching is a pain and result screens don’t aid my current frustration.
  • Personalisation is non existent. I know a lot of the benefits arise when you spend time here, but who has time? Let’s improve the tech algorithms.
  • Speaking of time, connection speeds need a bit of work.
  • Plugins. No Netflix, I am not installing Silverlight. Please serve me a working version for my setup. It’s possible.
  • Advertising interference. I know monetization needs to take place but lets tone it down a little.

Remote control analytics please.A simple iteration of input devices would aid the user experience 10 fold.

There’s no need to go off on a mass critique crusade here, and what niggles I have stated obviously negate any limitations around business pressures and budget constraints, but I’m playing devils advocate (aka the user). I’m sure if you thought for just two seconds you could think of something that bothers you when interacting with a streaming service app or satellite TV guide?

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Streaming services such as the BBC’s iPlayer have joined the industries ‘real estate debate’ and churned out a lovely, fully responsive iteration. Obviously this won’t work on every bit of web enabled hardware in the land and nor should it (wait for it… Blackberry) but they have given it a pretty good shot. It demonstrates skill in all disciplines of great web app development. The UX and IA are well thought through and it’s more than obvious decisions have been made on decent research. The UI is intuitive and elegantly understated and the frontend responsive in a very sharp way. The tech goes without saying. I know in the industry there has always been a positive bias towards the BBC’s online offerings but full marks here, it’s a mainstream triumph. Albeit an unpopular decision with the press and social media, the BBC’s decision to drop BBC3 and stream it’s content through iPlayer only goes to show one thing. Online consumption is the future. Shhhhhh. It doesn’t take a genius to see through the press hype that decisions like that are not just based around cost cutting exercises.

And, with new hardware finding it’s way to market such as Google’s Chromecast, the way in which we interact with our TV is becoming more and more intertwined with digital. The famously coined ‘2nd screen’ will become ever more important in the way in which we interact and consume media.

It’s clear there are a handful of streaming services that are leading the pack. These are delivered by teams that have a taken a holistic approach, done their homework and are not afraid to upset a few people. For the rest of them it will take a few more iterations to get closer to seamless interaction and delivery but we are on our way and it’s exciting times. With all digital, I can’t wait to see what the future holds, however I will be keeping a keen eye on how it continues to influence and shape the TV industry and how we interact and consume content.