Understanding the Big Screen for OTT and VOD viewing

Find out more about the research and pricing information.

For viewers the TV screen is still the main device to enjoy entertainment. From watching TV over the set-top box, casting VOD content using Chromecast or Apple TV, or playing video games using a Playstation or Xbox. The big screen is the end device in multi-screen media consumption; especially for long-form content. Increasingly viewers are connecting their (smart) TV’s to the Internet to watch videos. In 2015, in the UK 93% of all Smart TV owners connected their TV to the internet, a rise of 21% compared to 2013. Worldwide the number of connected TV sets sold grew with 58% from 307,4 million in 2013 to 486,7 million in 2015.

Connecting directly to a viewer

The big screen is no longer the sole domain for cable companies and broadcasters. New content platforms have easy access to Smart TV’s, cast devices and media boxes, resulting in increased competition. The big screen provides new opportunities for content creators to reach viewers by creating a seamless viewing experience across devices. The Smart TV connects directly and individually to a viewer instead of through a distributor. This allows broadcasters to move from a b-to-b-to-c business to a b-to-c business. To achieve this they have to make sure their brand and content works on any screen. Especially since 37% of TV viewing time on smart TV’s in the UK spent on on-demand content

Designing for the big screen

Designing apps for the big screen requires a new mindset and approach. The Smart TV is limited in user controls, requires an easy to use interface, and is often shared with multiple users. Standards that have been applied on the web and in mobile apps don’t apply to the TV.

Netflix hast set a golden standard for UX design. Viewers decide to hook up their smart TV’s to watch Netflix on the big screen instead of a mobile device. The cross-platform integration provides a seamless experience for the end user. Broadcasters are trying to incorporate these best practices for their specific use case.

Researching the big screen

In a recent research project for a leading commercial broadcaster, ComingNext.TV analysed Smart TV apps using a custom analysis framework that looked at the UI/UX on different devices, the popularity of the app, the availability of content and different discovery options, the commercial models, personalisation options, and cross-platform features. The result are in-depth case studies including video walkthroughs that give a good understanding of best practices in concept development for the big screen.

The research found that the multi platform user experience evolves in several phases. These phases can relate to different versions of a big screen app but also the maturity of the market. They are key considerations in the development process; the more advanced broadcasters with large budgets go directly to phase three. Providing an effective concept that aligns with these phases can ensure good reception and adoption by the viewers and are important in understanding the relevance of the big screen for OTT and VOD viewing.

1. Consistency

Smart TV Research - Consistency

In the first phase of multiscreen app development, the guiding principle is consistency. This leads to experiences which are identical within the boundaries of device capabilities. Often driven by HTML-5 responsive design.

2. Continuity

Smart TV Research - Continuity

The next generation multiscreen apps are still very similar, but the individual devices are aware of the users behaviour across the portfolio. App data is synced across devices: ‘continue watching’ across different devices and shared preferences are most common features. Requires login and has significant back end implications.

3. Complementary

Smart TV Research - Complementary

In the latest generation of apps, the devices functionally complement each other. Specific tasks, like registering or watching are more prominent on certain devices. The devices may also be aware of each other when used simultaneously, taking the role of master or slave.

Other findings

Another important finding from the research is the importance of extensive content metadata that can be used to provide valuable recommendations and display attractive visuals. Because of the limited navigation options on the big screen it is relevant to get the user to the content as fast as possible. Therefor the availability and usage of metadata has a strong influence the UX.

To provide valuable and personal recommendation some kind of login is required. Preferably this is handled on a second device that allows the used to identify itself after which the Smart TV shows a personalized interface. This can include recommendations to watch, continue watching from other devices, and editorial suggestions or notifications for upcoming shows. It is important to realize that the Smart TV is considered an end device for content. Emphasis should be placed on quick and easy content discovery while more complex interactions are done on a second device.

Research of big screen propositions

For the research a Smart TV app short list is created based on expert validation and quantitative research. Based on interviews and market research an analysis framework is developed. The apps in the research include Netflix (Global), FoxNow (US), Arte (DE/FR), Stan (AU), MTV Play (EU). These apps are extensively researched to create a set of best-practices in big app concepts, supported by practical and hands-on video walkthroughs.

Smart TV apps in Research

More information

Find out more about the research of international best practices in big screen propositions.

For more information on acquiring the results and pricing information you can contact Isa Buchner via isa@comingnext.tv.

Testimonial Channel 4

Before undertaking a re-design of our All 4 big screen apps, we engaged ComingNext.TV to research international big screen apps in the VOD market. Their international focus helped us to identify and analyse best practice by creating analytical case studies covering both product features and user interface design for big screen apps from across the globe. The work helped us to validate our decisions relating to the scope and development approach we are now taking to the re-design. Maureen Glennon All 4 Big Screen Product Manager for Channel 4, UK

How we can help you

ComingNext.TV is specialized in working with broadcasters to define their next generation TV strategy. During a workshop with your team we co-create the first outline and support you in realizing your ambitions. Contact us to find out more.

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