The Future of the Future of TV: 2017 Edition
Little over a year ago Apple’s Tim Cook issued a bold statement. The future of TV is apps.
Visionary as Apple Inc. may be, even they cannot claim something and then simply make it so. Rather, that statement was an assessment of an abundantly clear truth; both the market and networks have a predilection for content that is neatly packaged into easily consumable apps. Fans want an un-bundling of content, allowing them full control of what they watch and pay for. Unlike other media, networks are eager to disavow traditional platforms in favor of the greener pastures distribution through their own apps promise — more control, more information, more revenue. Networks no longer require a third party’s platform to push content to their audience, they can become their own platform. Apple’s prediction is quickly becoming a reality; the future of TV really is apps.
So then what is the future of TV apps?
Networks brimming with content and individual creators are in need of apps to own their distribution on new platforms . The market has already demonstrated that niche’ apps for specific genres of content, brands, and creators assure a built-in audience and therefore instant usership. Digital networks are sitting pretty, backed by armies of creators with content easily pushed to vertical driven apps. Traditional networks are also well positioned to dive headfirst into the OTT app pool with each of their unique content offerings attracting established fans. All networks will need apps for each brand/genre in their portfolio, leaving them with the daunting task of managing hundreds of individual properties. The future of SmartTV will be the networks that can manage and leverage their multitude of apps from a central CMS and drive engagement with an optimized user experience across all their properties.
Interconnected apps are the future of TV.
The winners of SmartTV will be those early adopters who launch a network of apps able to communicate with one another, share data, and be managed from a central CMS dashboard. The fiber connecting these apps is data. A network of apps collecting metrics on overarching trends as well as specific user behavior will yield highly actionable insights. Providing both an omniscient recommendation engine for individuals in addition to revelations about groups of user-cohorts. This intimate understanding of user engagement will provide an unparalleled advantage to networks armed with data from their interconnected apps, allowing for strategic decisions to be informed by in-depth data not hunches.
Cross-promotion breeds increased engagement.
Interconnectivity is a two way street. It is both a connection between apps on the back-end as well as the front-end. A single all access ‘passport’ account made by a user could mean access to the whole family of apps within a network, reducing friction and encouraging additional engagement. A thorough understanding of each fan’s viewing habits would then provide powerful recommendation data driving targeted engagement to new properties that will be of interest. This means longer watch times and increased downloads for additional apps. Once a user joins one of a network’s apps, they are exposed to all of them.
The 500 million dollar question:
Vevo recently announced their plans for music world domination that includes establishing an OTT empire. The price tag for their expansion, a cool $500 mill; much of which will be necessary to build the tech for their apps. Although Vevo’s situation is different than most, the sticker shock associated with a truly connected OTT platform may leave many networks with cold feet.
Make sure your network has a place in SmartTV’s future.
For networks, brands and creators hesitant or unable to shell out that kind of capital, other solutions do exist. One option is to outsource to an app firm that will craft a one-off, stand-alone app. While perhaps economical for a single app, any attempt to scale this way becomes both slow and pricy, taking considerable time and funds to execute. Another option is enlisting a standard cookie-cutter tech company that, in a reasonable amount of time, will build templated apps for each brand in a network. The only thing connecting these apps however are their identical standard design; as always, you get what you pay for. The shortcomings of these traditional solutions have slowed the imminent transition from cable, and desktop to SmartTV.
The key for networks is to find an OTT sweet spot; somewhere between the high costs of DIY, the long production time required when outsourcing to a firm, and the mass-produced stand alone tech company solutions. A strategy that can quickly produce interconnected OTT apps with a unique UI/UX and actionable data without costing a fortune. A strategy to scale apps with the right features quickly, striking while the iron is hot, will lead the winners of SmartTV into the future.
A New Solution.
Unreel.me supports networks looking to dominate SmartTV and OTT . Unreel is currently providing some of the largest networks in the world with interconnected custom apps; rapidly scaling every brand in their portfolio. Using a patented Big Data driven A.I., Unreel apps boast the industry’s most in-depth analytics dashboard and a powerful recommendation engine. Going beyond data by providing a one-of-a-kind UI/UX and viral features found nowhere else to boost fan engagement, Unreel OTT apps are more than just apps. With a focus on monetizing content with SVOD, VOD, Tip jar and Ad support, Unreel is turning OTT into a scalable stream of revenue for the business side of networks and creators all over the world.