As viewers become increasingly demanding — watching what they want, when they want to and on whatever device they choose — content providers are looking to find new ways to monetize their offerings and raise the levels of interaction.
Watching “television” is no longer a linear experience and while it’s true that terrestrial, satellite, cable and internet streaming services are all competing for space on our TV, laptop, mobile and tablet screens, viewers are consuming content in multiple ways — i.e. watching TV and using Twitter, or watching a game show and using a smartphone app to participate. This is only going to grow and according to Infonetics Research, the global set-top box market is forecast to be worth over $19 billion by 2018.
It’s all about the content
For content providers, the guiding principle is that viewers care about the content and not where it comes from — whether that’s a set-top box, a pay-tv provider or the Internet. So how does this affect content providers? How can they ensure viewers get the best experience and, as a result, properly monetise the content?
Ultimately, it is about the content and how viewers interact with that content. It’s no longer a question of switching on the TV and using the remote control to channel surf. Instead, it’s about having the full functionality at your fingertips to find exactly what you want to watch.
The user experience
One of the main user challenges — highlighted in research conducted by independent market research company Trendbox, on behalf of Universal Electronics is the confusion around switching source, or navigating between TV, set-top box, games console and other components – 34% of respondents said that they struggled to get the right picture onto the screen. Apart from affecting the user experience, this has ramifications for content providers and technology manufacturers. 10% of respondents said they contacted support to help change the source. While as a percentage alone it doesn’t seem very much, consider that each of these calls can last several minutes, which means that call centre operators are tied up answering these queries.
The role of the remote control
What it comes down to is simplifying the user experience, and often that’s accomplished through the remote control. If the remote control is easy to use, content providers have a better chance of getting their content appearing where it should be.
But what about navigation? For set-top box operators, searchability is key. Whether that is accomplished by using spoken words through voice control, hand movements through gesture control, or keys and track pads through more traditional control methods, the remote control forms the basis for finding and interacting with that content.
Where does ease of use begin?
Taking a step back, setting up the remote, especially a universal remote that controls everything from the TV and DVD player, to the set-top box and games console, can also be a stumbling block for users. While many users might get installers to set up the remote control during the initial installation process, what happens when components are added to the stack, or if remotes get broken or lost?
It starts with the remote control
According to the research, 80% of TV viewers want a remote control that’s easy to use. But therein lies the paradox: Users have more content, more services and more devices than ever before, but they want less complexity and have fewer keys on a remote control, while maintaining their levels of choice. The challenge that content providers, and by extension manufacturers, have is ensuring that ease of use. It begins with the remote control and, if successful, interactivity and monetised content could be just the click of a button away.
Photo/Graphic courtesy of Universal Electronics