Deeper Dive—Takeaways from the TV of Tomorrow Show

The TV of Tomorrow Show was held June 12-13 in San Francisco. (FierceVideo)

SAN FRANCISCO – In the middle of an uncharacteristic early June heat wave in the Bay Area, several key figures from the television industry gathered in the Presidio for the TV of Tomorrow Show.

Discussions during the two-day show covered topics including addressable advertising, distribution, user experience, interactive TV and ATSC 3.0.

Here are some of FierceVideo’s observations from the event.

Addressable perceptions moving past premium CPMs

Addressable advertising is already proving out on OTT platforms as a means for targeting deeper audience segments while driving and measuring actual business results. It’s been a little slower to catch on in linear television.

Jason Bolles, senior vice president of advanced advertising at Nielsen, said during a Wednesday panel discussion that it would be great if in two years the addressable ecosystem had been fully enabled and that the industry was gauging the impact. There’s still work to do to get to that point.

Andy Barnet, vice president of western advertising sales at Xandr, said though that perceptions are changing about addressable CPMs being priced at a premium.

“We’re a deal. I’ve seen a lot of changes with categories getting it in the past years. People are realizing that business outcomes are actually crucial and they are tying them in to the effective CPMs,” Barnet said.

Reaggregation nation

Call it reaggregation, call it rebundling, call it “Pay TV 3.0.” Whatever the name, the bottom line is that consumers are growing weary of video service fragmentation, and are increasingly seeking out easy, intuitive ways to bring it all back together.

Ashish Argawal, co-founder and CTO of Caavo, was at the show touting his company’s hardware that provides a universal remote and control center for multiple devices and services. It’s a clear use case for tackling video service and device fragmentation. But it’s different from the video service aggregation platforms like Amazon Channels, the Roku Channel and Apple TV channels, which bring together into one place access, search, discovery, billing and other features for disparate subscription services.

Dwayne Benefield, head of PlayStation Vue, said Wednesday that only the big device players will be the ones that have the opportunity to launch streaming video aggregation platforms.

“You’ll see a handful of them evolving and surviving,” Benefield said.

Context is key for UX

The user experience (UX) can make or break success for any video service. During a UX panel on Wednesday, context came up on two key fronts.

Field Garthwaite, co-founder and CEO of Iris.TV, said that the context of a stream is key to driving completion of ads and in turn generally improving the user experience by limiting the desire for people to bounce out of a stream.

Alison Meier, UX research lead at YouTube TV, talked about how people like to quickly and easily access what they’ve already watched, either channels or individual content, and that people are more likely to fall into habitual programming choices when it’s serving as background noise when they’re getting ready in the morning or doing the dishes. She stressed that it’s important for video services to understand use cases for different content.

Interactive TV doesn’t have to be so hard

Big, choose-your-own-adventure style interactive TV like Netflix’s “Bandersnatch” clearly has an impact on the viewing audience. It also takes a ton of effort to make.

Dan Garraway, co-founder at Wirewax, talked about success his company saw after working with the BBC on the interactive series “Secret Life of Boys,” with which more than 88% of the audience interacted, and spent four times more time with the content than viewers who didn’t interact.

But, that level of engagement doesn’t come easy.

Marc Hustvedt, CEO of Fine Brothers Entertainment, described the labor-intensive process for making interactive video. He talked about huge pre-production challenges, scripts needing a Roku app so they could be read as an interactive document, and needing to come up with codes and “football plays” to help inform actors’ performances and keep them consistent with what may or may not have come earlier in the interactive series.

Jim Bennette, vice president of sales and business development at Applicaster, said there still hasn’t been consistent adoption of big interactive TV. But, he said interactivity doesn’t have to be so complicated, pointing toward how “American Idol” has used voting and Hulu uses updates about live TV events. He also said that betting and e-commerce are potential monetization vehicles for interactive TV.

Local broadcast television struggles

A Thursday panel with representatives from AirTV, Didja and Locast – all solutions making over-the-air broadcast television more available for the internet crowd – featured an extremely dire warning about broadcast television.

If the NFL moves to Amazon or some other digital platform, that will be the end of broadcast television, said David Goodfriend, founder of Locast. “I’ll bet my life on it,” he said, adding that Roger Goodell holds the future of broadcast in his hands.

That could be a long shot considering the success the NFL has had with its broadcast partners. But, the panel’s warnings about ATSC 3.0 may be more realistic. One of the key features for ATSC 3.0 is the opportunity to provide reception on mobile devices. But Jim Long, CEO of Didja, said that ATSC 3.0 will never work on phones, not because the phones won’t have chips but because they won’t have antennas.

Mitch Weinraub, director of product development at AirTV, noted that while ATSC 3.0 certainly provides a lot of opportunities for broadcasters, consumers don’t care about ATSC 3.0 and they won’t care until there’s content on ATSC 3.0 that isn’t on ATSC 1.0.

Goodfriend also said that the targeted advertising that ATSC 3.0 is promising can already be done through IP-based broadcast TV platforms like Didja and Locast.

ATSC 3.0 is still in the development and deployment stages of its life so there’s time for the technology to better hone its approach with consumers. But if any of holes the panel poked in the technology can’t be patched up, it could be a bumpy ride for next-generation television.