More content and more relevance hit Smart TV this year
TV has gotten a whole lot smarter, as Smart TVs take over living rooms across the globe. Plugging your TV into the internet seeks to meet all your home entertainment needs on one screen, whether it’s apps, surfing the web, or checking out new videos and music. Today’s TV viewers can unlock it all with their remote controls – and the future holds even more possibilities for web content and interaction. Aneesh Rajaram, Head of TV at web company Opera Software, shares his five top predictions for what to watch in Smart TV trends this year.
1. Internet video explodes onto TV
As more Smart TV owners connect their TVs to the internet in 2014, demand for content will explode – particularly video. “The first prediction for Smart TV in 2014 is the one that’s the most common sense: couch time will increasingly be spent watching video through TV apps and not only with the TV broadcasts,” explains Rajaram. Online video has proved to be the most popular content for connected-TV viewers. “Music, games and social media apps are also popular for Smart TV, but, this year, we expect massive growth in offerings of on-demand films, series, clips and user-generated video to meet the demand.” Fans of streaming web video on their mobiles and tablets will flock to the TV to enjoy the same video on the largest screen in the home, meaning viewers will spend more time with the TV. As top-notch web content encourages more viewers to connect their Smart TVs to the web, providers will seek to make content more discoverable and simpler to navigate.
2. TV apps actually get relevant, and people will start using them
There has been much buzz around second-screen and companion apps, where people use their tablets or smartphones for apps relevant to the programs on their TV screen. However, viewer research continues to find that when people pick up their phones during a favorite show or sports match, it’s to check email or social media – not use apps tied to what they’re watching. “Most Smart TVs already offer standalone apps, but, in 2014, we will see those apps become part of the TV broadcast and ‘context sensitive’, capturing viewer attention on the screen,” predicts Opera’s Rajaram. “The experience can be seamless and intuitive. Reality TV shows could include overlays to vote on screen for your favorite contestant. Films can let you check the movie’s ratings or actor biographies in one click of the remote – without your eyes wandering to your phone.”
3. TV ads become interactive
Can TV ads truly be useful? Opera Software thinks so. Just as connected TV will bring more interactivity to viewers’ favorite programs in 2014, so, too, will advertisements become more responsive thanks to web connectivity and HTML5 adoption. “An ad for an upcoming concert could feature an overlay that shows in real time how many tickets are still available for sale, or a commercial for a local pizza chain can include an option for you to order home-delivery – all from your TV screen,” adds Rajaram. “This will help make ads more relevant and easier for viewers to reach the products that truly interest them, in a ‘leanback’ way and without having to turn to other devices.”
4. More choice, more content
So far, it has been viewers’ TVs or streaming devices bringing more web content to the living room. In 2014, pay-TV operators, broadcasters and TV networks will jump on the bandwagon. “People will be spoiled for choice in the ways they can access internet content on their TVs, as well as the kind of content they can reach,” explains Rajaram. As people are encouraged to buy and connect more devices for different rooms of the home, they will demand consistency across those devices – in order to reach their favorite content on any screen, at any time.
5. Smart TVs become more affordable
Good news for viewers who find the latest and greatest in Smart TVs too much for their wallets. 2014 will see massive growth in low- to mid-range TVs, heralding even more appetite for online Smart TV content. “The Smart TV space will see an evolution similar to the mobile phone market, where people now demand that even the lowest-end devices include ‘smart’ capabilities,” explains Rajaram. “The huge increase in the number of Smart TV devices sold, the size of the audiences and the number of regions joining that audience will lead to even greater demand for relevant content. Broadcasters and content providers will quickly step in to bring more online entertainment offerings to the growing pool of viewers.”
Aneesh Rajaram is Opera’s Senior Vice-President for TV & Devices. Opera Software has worked in the connected-TV and devices space since 2001, when it launched a software toolkit for powering web services on TV. Today, it also provides an app store for 11 manufacturers and a TV web browser, as well as working to create new technologies that make broadcasted programs and commercials more interactive for end viewers. The company works closely with pay-TV operators, content developers and more than 50 manufacturers of TVs, Blu-ray Disc players and set-top boxes worldwide, including Sony, TiVo, Samsung, Philips and Toshiba. For more information, visit opera.com/tv/.