Google TV Lives On!

In October 2010, Google TV made its appearance in three different hardware formats. The Logitech Revue was constructed with Google TV in mind and is separately connected to the TV. Sony also produced its own equivalent labelled “Sony TV Internet” – costing $100 more than the Revue, but including a Blu-Ray DVD player. In addition, Sony also continued to integrate Google TV directly into some of its television sets.

Google TV simply unifies your satellite box with media from the Internet and features wide searchable content featuring TV Shows. No matter where the viewing material is located, Google TV plays it. However, after television networks prevented their content from being played on the Google TV things began to look grim for the product. Since you could connect your laptop to the TV and have no problems in viewing content, the restrictions specifically placed against Google TV made little sense.

After this shock Logitech and Song reduced the retail prices of their products. Logitech also embarked on a massive advertising campaign that involved Kevin Bacon. Google TV however didn’t really manage to keep its head above water and any excitement surrounding it simply fizzled out.

In May 2011, Google TV provided a snapshot of its new interface at the Google I/O conference. It’s been redesigned, rethought and restructured and the next version of Google TV will also include the Android Market.

Boxee – The Box for Everything

The Boxee Box is a device that allows anyone to play video of any format on their living room TV. Manufactured by D-Link, this device is slim, stylish and robust and contains numerous features including a remote with a full QWERTY keyboard on its back, allowing for ease and versatility while navigating through titles, menus and settings.

The Boxee did have initial problems as the software was quite buggy, however after a firmware upgrade released in May 2011, all these problems seems to have disappeared. Boxee features access to Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Pandora and Amazon. With Boxee, users can also connect through social media allowing you to receive recommendations from friends and other groups. Boxee Box owners also have the ability to send video directly from their own iPad to their televisions.

By August 2011, Boxee Box owners had nearly two million users registered with the service and also sold over 100,000 Boxee Boxes themselves. They recently launched their second device by partnering with Iomega, a major hard drive manufacturer.

Yahoo! Connected TV – The first one standing!

Yahoo! first launched its Connected TV product in 2009 with many consumers unaware of Yahoo!’s involvement due to the labelling and marketing. Today, Yahoo! Connected TV comes in-built in around 160 Television sets across brands including Samsung, Toshiba and Sony.

Yahoo! Connected TV also provides free software development tools that allow developers to excel with their TV-based applications. An example being Yahoo!’s ‘broadcast interactivity’ which suggests Internet connect related to the material they are viewing.

Yahoo! went on to release new features through technology known as “Device Communication”. With this, users are able to open a second screen on their iPad or smartphone avoiding taking up space on the TV screen. Yahoo! also offers Connected TV through separate devices and boxes so users do not have to buy a new television system to have this platform.

Xbox goes beyond Games!

Though many people associate Xbox with solely gaming, it’s much more accurate to describe the product as a complete media centre. Today, the Xbox sits in more than 53 million homes and 40% of its activity is prescribed to non-gaming purposes.

The first Xbox was launched in 2001 and the Xbox 360 made its mark just four years after this. Xbox Live, the online platform for the device now has well over 30 million users who use it for social media purposes, or streaming content through sites such as Youtube and Netflix. The percentage use attributed to such activities like watching TV programs or movies seems to be growing rapidly. Those who have Xbox Kinect are able to access, view and pause content with voice commands or simple bodily gestures. It would seem the television remote is quickly becoming out-dated.

More to the Eyes for Connected TV

Connected TVs are not simply about on-demand content but are also quickly moving into the field of Live Television. For instance, the next version of the Boxee will have an antenna that allows users to receive HD content directly from local television stations. Boxee has recently partnered with Wall Street Journal to give live news content to owners of the set-top device. Microsoft too announced in June 2011 that live television was coming to the Xbox 360. All in all, the Xbox now has deals with about 40 companies and channels including SyFy, Bravo, NBC Universal and HBO.

Connected TVs – Will they outrun Traditional Pay TV?

After becoming annoyed with his $80/month cable TV bill, Ilan Benatar decided it was time to do something about it. He decided to watch TV exclusively on his iMac and after a while found out about the Boxee TV device. Having quickly purchased it he no longer looks back at the days of watching tedious adverts and awkwardly connecting his computer to this TV – it’s all done for him! Having become an extensive user of the Boxee’s Netflix app, Ilan now sees traditional cable TV as ‘weird’ and out-dated, claiming that his new setup is saving him thousands of dollars every year. He is one of just a few called ‘cord cutters’ who have completely given up on regular cable and satellite services.

Television of the Future

It is extremely difficult to construct a figure or percentage of those who have abandoned traditional television services as dependant on source, figures can vary from 0.1% to 20%.

A study conducted by the Diffusion Group demonstrated that 32% of Netflix users were intending to lessen the amount of content they receive from cable TV companies. Rather than ‘cord-cutting’ this is more appropriately referred to as ‘cord-shaving’.

Television companies have to fight a hard battle, and many are now preventing their content from being played on separately connected TV devices such as the Boxee Box. In 2011, Fox changed its regulations so that content would be available eight days after initial broadcast as opposed to the day after. They also adopted a ‘proof of subscription’ policy like many organisations which means that should you want next-day access to content you would have to prove that you are paying for their broadcast services in the first place.

Cable Becoming Similar to Connected TV

Cable companies are becoming increasingly aware of the danger Connected TV poses to them, and in an effort to thwart so-called cord-cutting, the cable boxes themselves are beginning to act more and more like connected TV devices.

In 2011, Brian Roberts, CEO and chairman of Comcast gave a presentation on the new Xfinity TV pilot that revealed a completely new interface which provides recommendations based on what one is viewing or recording. The new interactive program allows for quick access to information regarding weather and traffic, as well as including popular social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Pandora. However a primary element missing is the ability to stream media from sites like Hulu, Netflix and Youtube that leaves the product a severe disadvantage.

Advertising on Connected TV

Advertising on Connected TV is possible through content apps or directly on the platform itself. The company behind Boxee has kept its advertising at next to none, with the same applying for Apple TV and Google TV. It’s all in the aid of providing a less intrusive user experience that is advertisement, not to mention hassle free.

Yahoo! Connected TV Advertising Possibilities

Yahoo! first introduced advertising to its Connected TV services in 2011. Having partnered with brands like Microsoft and Ford the advertising is specifically designed to complement the experience. Users are given a small prompt on the TV screen that enables them to view advertisement or information about the TV content they are currently watching.

Xbox Kinect – Advertising in another Dimension

Xbox Kinect allows users to easily and physically engage with content on their screens. Advertisements on the Xbox can be used to prompt viewers to share them – for instance, a user might say Xbox Tweet – and the advertisement or product at hand would be posted to their twitter account. Other functions include ‘Xbox Near me’ which would inform the viewer of the nearest stores that sell the brand they are looking for. Though it may be an elegant way of communication, whether users want this kind of technology to interact with advertisements is not yet known.

Advertising through Apps

Content apps that stream movies and TV Shows can also feature in-video advertising that cannot yet be skipped by users. This means that viewers will actually watch the advertisement!

Starting Points

In order to take your advertising to the Connected TV market you will need to heed a few crucial points:

  • Know your audience! – Understand the differences in gender and TV genres – and realise that each Connected TV is unique and not easily generalised into specific categories.
  • Creativity – People buy connected TV devices for ease of use and functionality and your advertisements need to complement this service. Design your ads with creativity at mind and try to seamlessly blend your ideas.
  • Brand Awareness – If you have engaging content to share, try to create your own channel that can be viewed (with partnerships) on a range of connected TV devices.

Connected TV Really is the Future

Television and the Internet now go hand in hand. Connected TV brings to the user an interactive mesh of nearly every available technology today and is creating really interesting ways of accessing and viewing content today.