CES enables the mobile OTT TV revolution – but can’t do it singlehandedly

In a deviation from tradition, this year’s CES has been less about elaborate launches of new TV sets, and more about enhancing the overall TV experience. Samsung made headlines with the launch of its Smart Hub and Control remote for Smart TVs, allowing consumers to seamlessly switch between broadcast and OTT content, as well as other connected devices. LG too introduced details about its acclaimed third generation webOS smart TV platform, which lets users connect their mobile phones to the television via its TV Plus app.

This trajectory towards mobile was highlighted even further by the release of new 4K enabled portable devices, as well as debuts of devices supporting streaming and mirroring functionality such as Miracast, Airplay and Chromecast. Across the board, manufacturers have been shaping their offerings based on accelerating consumer desire for flexible viewing, in a world where content is exploding and accessible in countless different ways.

This concerted effort to provide a smoother all-round TV experience, which unifies all types of video content, is a rapid response to the changing tide. Our latest research (December 2015) has shown us that OTT TV services such as Netflix are seeing a popularity surge – and that connected devices are playing a fundamental role. Mobile devices are now the most popular choices for watching paid OTT TV content, and 66% of consumers globally prefer to access Internet TV via a mobile phone, tablet or laptop. Netflix’s rapid expansion into new territories such as India and Russia – where mobile device users outweigh fixed broadband households – is further proof of this new TV era.

We’re in the midst of a global trend towards use of multiple devices to consume content and younger audiences are leading the charge. 18-34s are choosing to watch TV on almost twice as many devices as over 55s, and in technologically advanced countries like USA this jumps to three times as many.

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However the responsibility to cater to these increasingly mobile-savvy audiences falls on many shoulders, and pay-TV operators, alongside OTT service providers, are left with a serious challenge; not only must they adapt their customer acquisition and retention strategies in line with this growing mobile-centric audience, but it must be done intelligently. This involves examining device preference and usage data across different demographics, and taking advantage of this information to tackle churn. Only by gathering this insight and channeling it into specific persona profiles can operators employ truly sophisticated methods to keep their customers satisfied.

While slicker cross-device viewing technology may naturally be charming the population, the appeal will quickly wear off if device use isn’t factored into every part of the consumer journey – from content propositions to contract terms, payment options, customer engagement and marketing. If the challenge so far has been to provide a consistent user experience over devices, the Holy Grail now is to provide a bespoke one, using analytics to create hyper-personalised subscriber experiences.