Android TV chief: Apps are not the ideal way to transport content

From left to right: Richard Dowling, ThinkAnalytics; Michael Hawkey, TiVo; Sascha Prueter, Android TV; Ivan Verbesselt, Nagra; Alaster Armitage-Brain, Happy Finish; Brendan Hole, BT; and Ed Corn, MTM.

AMSTERDAM – Android TV head Sascha Prueter said OTT and other video apps are still too compartmentalized and said it’s necessary to have search and discovery that can span across disparate apps.

Speaking on a panel Sunday here at IBC, Prueter, along with executives from TiVo, BT, Nagra, ThinkAnalytics and Happy Finish, joined a conversation about the future of the pay-TV user experience, which touched on unified search to bring together a vast video ecosystem.

“Apps are not the ideal way to transport content,” Prueter said. “They create a silo and once you leave that silo to watch other content, you are in another silo.”

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More ideal, Prueter said, would be a content assistant powered by machine learning that would take much of the work out of navigation for the viewer.

Simplification of the search and discovery process was a big part of the conversation about future UX trends.

Richard Dowling, vice president of product services at ThinkAnalytics, said that adding more and more content to please viewers is not the best way to approach the market, and that operators should instead focus on making it easier for viewers to find what they want.

“Don’t just throw content at the problem,” said Dowling.

Michael Hawkey, SVP and general manager of the discovery business group at TiVo, echoed that sentiment, urging operators to build UX that are flexible enough to rapidly respond to changing viewer behavior, incorporate many different content types and sources, and use time- and context-based personalization.

Hawkey said personalization could be better if content owners would provide information about viewer behavior once they access content. For example, if TiVo knew that a user was tuning out of a show 15 seconds after queuing it up, then the service’s predictions and recommendations would likely stop recommending that show.

Some of the ideas for better personalizing recommendations were more far-fetched. Prueter, for example, imagined a scenario where people could wear sensors that provide information allowing their TV to predict what kind of content they are in the mood for.

But he warned that with that type of enhanced recommendation engine, it’s important to have a level playing field.

Prueter said that internet companies are more likely to experiment with pointing to free, available content first while cable operators are more likely to want their content to come up first.

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