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TV Apps aren’t getting used

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By Adam Nightingale, VP EMEA, Accedo

TV apps are not getting used. That was the conclusion from research issued by Altman Vilandrie & Co. this month, which found that 70% of consumers have not downloaded any network or cable channel apps. You might think that for an app company like Accedo that would be bad news, but it is totally expected. It is one thing to develop dynamic and compelling apps, another thing altogether to make sure consumers find them, have a reason to download them, and then go on to use them, not just once but repeatedly.

The amount of available TV apps is only going to increase, so in order to make sure those TV apps get the attention they deserve, there are several important ideas the industry needs to embrace.


1. User experience

One of the biggest mistakes made by content providers and consumer electronics manufacturers alike is not paying enough attention to the user experience (UX)., Most consumers will tell you that a TV UX is dated and difficult to use, especially compared to a mobile phone UX, which has evolved significantly over the past ten years. Too often the user experience seems to ignore what the app is all about – video – and acts more like a static web page with silos of content rather than an immediately engaging, video-centric experience.

When talking UX, we are not talking high resolution or even what content is being delivered; it is about how the app engages the user, how it interacts with the user, and how it holds their attention. Content providers need to make the interface attractive, refresh it regularly and makes sure it’s intuitive and  the functions within their service easy to use, otherwise consumers will simply lose patience.


2. Discoverability

Helping consumers discover content goes hand in hand with the user interface. A constant refresh of top and featured content, which is not just relevant to the user but perhaps also to the device, to the time and day and perhaps to the season, will keep the experience fresh and interesting. The art is not just to add new features, but to make sure that the UX provides the shortest, most intuitive and enjoyable path to great content. A notifications service can remind users of particular new content items, as well as alerting users to the completion of downloads – keeping the user up to date with what’s new and interesting is a critical part of an immersive UX.


3. Multiple platforms

Consumption habits have changed dramatically and consumers are no longer just viewing content on the main TV screen, but expect to find and view the same content on any device. As Altman Vilandrie & Co. Director, Jonathan Hurd pointed out: “Managing multiple apps across multiple viewing platforms can be challenging and appears to be limiting the market penetration of nearly all TV apps.“ And of course the number of devices just keeps growing, but only by managing, monitoring and configuring apps centrally and across all devices will you ensure as large an audience as possible at the same time as optimising marketing and operational processes.


4. Consolidation

The report by Altman Vilandrie & Co. also commented that 86% of US pay TV subscribers want a single app for all of their video. This makes perfect sense to us and is a largely achievable goal, mindful of the functional differences between devices. There are two main considerations. The first is in securing equivalent content rights – you could argue that hiding the complexity of content rights from consumers was Netflix’ great triumph. The second is the complexity of managing perhaps ten or twenty devices and ensuring a consistent look and feel per-user across all of them whilst maintaining the need for a dynamic and easy-to-update UX.

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