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Smart speakers, smart TVs, streaming sticks changing the experience of TV

smart TV smart speaker streaming stick

More consumers are adopting smart speakers, smart TVs, and streaming sticks. As penetrations rise, broadcasters and pay TV operators are becoming increasingly comfortable embracing the devices. Here are some of the ways they are beginning to exploit them to improve their services.

[You can read a condensed version of this post here.]

Smart speakers

Smart speakers are among the fastest adopted consumer technology ever. Adobe Analytics says that in just seven months, smart speaker ownership increased from 28% to 32%. Further, since most consumer electronics purchases occur in the fourth quarter, the company says it expects ownership to jump to nearly half by the end of the year.

smart speaker usesThe top three uses for smart speakers are listening to music (70%), getting the weather forecast (64%,) and asking fun questions (53%.) Emerging uses include asking for directions (34%,) smart home commands (31%,) and shopping and ordering things (30%.)

What is the smart speaker’s role in video consumption? It is not clear if Adobe asked its survey participants the question. However, in its Q4 2017 video trends report, TiVo did ask. The company found that 38% of smart speaker owners use their device to stream and watch video on their TV. For example, Amazon Fire TV owners can ask Alexa on Amazon Echo to play The Man in the High Castle on their Fire TV. Similarly, Dish Network customers can ask Alexa to change the channel of their Hopper DVR to NBC or HBO.

Smart TVs

The penetration of smart TVs in Wi-Fi homes has grown sharply over the last year, from 30% to 37%. Since virtually all new 4K TVs include smart functionality, we can expect the number of homes with a smart TV to continue to grow strongly. Broadcasters and pay TV operators are beginning to grow comfortable leveraging the smart TV in their core business.

Pay TV without an STB

Comcast has just released a beta version of its Xfinity TV streaming app for Samsung smart TVs. X1 subscribers with a late-model Samsung smart TV can watch live and on-demand TV through the app. They can also record shows using the Xfinity cloud DVR and watch the recording. Comcast already has a version of the Xfinity TV streaming app available for Roku devices.

Customized broadcast TV

BBC Research and Development is working on the way to personalize a broadcast channel with video segments delivered over the internet. The idea is to make a broadcast channel more relevant to the viewer by personalized the content to their tastes or viewing area. The BBC is working with Freeview Play in the UK to deliver the functionality on HbbTV 2 capable smart TVs.~

More respectful of owner privacy

Vizio is still dealing with the repercussions of collecting viewing data through its smart TVs without the owner’s permission. It has agreed to pay $2.2 million in damages. It is also working on the way to notify people on their smart Vizio TVs that they may be part of the settlement class. Hopefully, Vizio’s troubles will act as a warning to other device manufacturers not to try something similar.

Streaming sticks

Sky Ticket TV StickWhile Comcast is happy to have its app co-exist with other, potentially competitive, apps on an open connected-TV device, Sky Deutschland is carving a different path.  It has just released the Sky Ticket TV Stick, a Roku-powered device that plugs into the HDMI port of any TV. German users can stream all their pay TV content, as well as other streaming services selected by Sky Deutschland, including ARD, ZDF, and YouTube.

The advantage of the Ticket TV Stick for Sky is that it can control the experience and prevent competitive services from appearing in the interface. Consumers may not like the restricted environment, but there is a bonus in it for them too. They can cancel at the end of the month rather than being bound into a long pay TV contract.

For a condensed version of this opinion piece click here.


~HbbTV is a European standard to allow broadcasters to blend broadcast with Internet-delivered video.

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