The Battle for the Living Room – Who will own the consumer relationship and how will the TV user experience evolve in the future?

TV UX is a rapidly-evolving part of the living room experience. New platforms on new devices have shifted the consumer experience, resulting in growing pressure for television to adapt. Voice search is gaining traction, as data drives hyper-personalisation and more targeted recommendations.

What platform will users choose to consumer the content on? Will voice be the answer to search on TV? How will mobile affect TV user experience (UX), if at all? How do needs differ across this myriad of devices?

To help us navigate through this array of questions around TV UX, we were joined at the latest MTM Forum – an event where media and technology professionals are invited to discuss the impact of latest industry trends – by four senior industry executives:

  • Neil Memmott, Head of Software Engineering, BBC
  • Ed Corn, Strategic Partner Development Manager for Android TV in EMEA, Google
  • Benjamin Tomlinson, Creative Director – UX & Design at NOW TV, Sky
  • Richard Halton, CEO, YouView

Chaired by Jon Watts, Founding Director at MTM and Syann Cox, Research Director at MTM, the panel represented different parts of the TV ecosystem, and made for an evening of fascinating discussion.

Fragmented environment

The conversation began with the panel talking about the fragmented landscape of living room viewing.  With the proliferation of internet accessible devices and OTT consumption, users now have numerous ways of finding and consuming the content they want. Dozens of players, from hardware streaming devices like Roku to Kodi, to SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, are competing for living room dominance.

Fragmented consumption begs the question of where content providers and technology vendors should channel time and investment. One panellist noted the importance of finding where the consumer places value, and responding accordingly. Other panellists focused on partnerships as the route to market.

“The challenge is, along with the fact that users are consuming so much content, there are an increasing number of players in the market. People who produce content, people who distribute content and everyone else in-between.”

Voice – does it merit the hype?

The panel talked extensively about the advancement of voice technology to navigate content and how voice will change the TV UX landscape. A key debate topic was whether users would prefer voice over traditional search and in what scenario they would use one over the other.

Our panel were slightly sceptical over voice, as the exact use cases haven’t been defined. Since it’s such a relatively new area, the range of capabilities of voice are hard to map out. One panellist noted that users might want to use it for video calling, or children could use it to play games – but with no specific entry point it may lose traction. One panellist questioned if voice would impact the content, particularly through losing the chance and serendipity associated with traditional content discovery, or even personal recommendations.

“Optimising the experience, pushing the right content … what about serendipity? Discovering new content? You can have the perfect personalisation, you can just watch action movies, how do you break out of that? Serendipity always happens with friends who will often tell you what to watch, but you never would’ve chosen that thing!”

A consensus would probably be reached, commented the panel, with a hybrid UX combination of both voice and other methods to search for TV content. The panel suggested that users will prefer the most convenient method to navigate through large volumes of content, and voice is well-positioned to provide this.

Driven by data?

Data was seen as imperative for future developments in TV UX. One panellist broke down what it really meant for them: being able to access useful data in a timely, efficient manner that can provide decision makers with meaningful insights about their user base sounds easy in theory, but difficult when so many variables are changing.

A panellist noted that the more granular the data they have on users, the better they can understand their audience. With this large increase of user data, having the right metadata is important for arriving at the right conclusions. In return, providing a more curated viewing experience in terms of content suggestions keeps users around for longer.

“Data is key to our business, it helps us make decisions about users almost in real time”

In the end, it was agreed that there is a still a large amount of uncertainty around how the TV UX landscape will play out over the coming years. Navigating through these possibilities is just one of the many things we tackle for clients here at MTM.

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If you are interested to learn more about any of the topics discussed please do not hesitate get in touch at info@mtmlondon.com, or sign up to our weekly mailer to see what we’re thinking about each week.

About Fineas Tatar

Fineas Tatar recently joined the strategy team and loves all-things tech, media and tennis. He has previously worked for an analytics start-up in San Francisco and is actively involved with the startup-up/VC ecosystem back in Canada.