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Connected TV critical part of multi-screen video app delivery

With over 200M users of connected TVs forecast in the US by 2020, supporting the platform is of critical importance to online video providers. But platform fragmentation makes this hard to do, and needs to be done the right way according to Bottle Rocket.

Connected TV enjoying strong growth

Connected tv penetration through 2020By 2020, most homes will have a connected television according to a new forecast by eMarketer. The company says that over half of the US population (182 million) is already using one or more of smart TVs, streaming media players, or other connected TV devices. This is expected to reach 60% of the population, or 202M, by the end of 2020.

It seems like an obvious choice for an online video provider to support the connected TV. This, however, is far from easy. eMarketer says that 34% of US connected TV users will watch through a smart TV in 2020, which could be made by Samsung, LG, Vizio, or one of the many other TV manufacturers. The rest of connected TV viewers will be using one of many streaming devices, including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and others. Each of these device manufacturers have their own app platform. That means a video provider needs to create many apps to reach all 200M viewers forecast for 2020.

The challenge of delivering on each connected TV platform

In the webinar Multiplatform Solutions – It simply isn’t one size fits all, Peter Welpton, Head of Business Development for Bottle Rocket Studios, emphasized how quickly the connected TV has emerged as a critical platform:

“If you’d asked us about doing a streaming device 18 months ago, it was pretty much left up to the biggest companies because of the cost and expense. But today the idea of doing Roku and Apple TV … is becoming table-stakes for a lot of brands.”

Judy Johnson, Director of Product Management at Bottle Rocket Studios, focused on just how big a challenge delivering on all the connected TV platforms is:

“How often do each of these platform apps need to be updated? What are the support requirements for each one of these, and to understand the priorities around that…what are going to be my ongoing costs to build and maintain these? How often are there new devices models?”

Even mobile services need connected TV support

Delivering video services to mobile platforms is considerably easier. Since the market is dominated by two mobile OSs, iOS and Android, two app versions can provide very broad support.* However, even mobile first video services need to support the connected TV.

Mr. Welpton says this is most commonly achieved through support of “casting” a mobile screen to a device like a Chromecast or Apple TV via Airplay. Ms. Johnson says many video providers don’t do this. She tracks comments about video apps, and says casting support is a frequent cause for complaint among video app users:

“The number one complaint is ads, number two is ‘my MVPD is not available’, and number three is airplay and Chromecast <support>. If it doesn’t exist people are very vocal about it”

How to support the right connected TV platforms

Providing broad support for connected TVs, and other streaming platforms, is a huge challenge for video service providers. However, there are ways to lighten the burden and contain costs. To understand how to approach this you can watch the recording of the free webinar Multiplatform Solutions – It simply isn’t one size fits all by clicking on the embedded video above. Or you can access specific topics by clicking the chapters below.

Chapter 1: The video service conundrum (3:00)

Chapter 2: General approaches to creating video apps (6:40)

Chapter 3: Know your audience (17:40)

Chapter 4: Prioritization is key (21:00)

Chapter 5: Prioritize the features (33:50)

Chapter 6: Q and A (50:30)

Why it matters

Connected televisions will be in most US homes by 2020.

Delivering online video service apps on connected TVs is complicated because there are so many platforms.

There are ways to lighten this burden and contain the costs of video app delivery.

*Keeping up with OS versions is still a big challenge for video services, as the apps must be checked and potentially updated each time there is a major update of iOS or Android.

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