Report: Entertainment Voice Control Appeals to Half of U.S. Broadband Households

Close to half (43%) of U.S. broadband households that own or plan to purchase a smart TV or streaming media player consider voice control to be an important feature for their next purchase, according to new research from Parks Associates.

Meanwhile, more than half (55%) of U.S. broadband households find voice control of connected entertainment devices appealing.

The industry report The Impact of AI on Consumer Entertainment examines the impact of artificial intelligence on the entertainment industry and the future role of AI in user experience, service delivery, content creation and monetization of video services.

“Artificial intelligence is used across the connected entertainment value chain by leading companies to gain cost advantages, increase speed to market, and strengthen customer loyalty,” said Craig Leslie, senior research analyst, Parks Associates, in a statement. “Consumers expect new connected entertainment products and services to offer voice as a control and search option; AI solutions will help companies remain competitive in the future.”

The report also addresses the impact of AI on data, as AI requires monitoring large quantities of personal data and creates concerns for consumers about security and privacy.

“Seventy-five percent of U.S. broadband households want tight control over their personal data, and over half are concerned about unauthorized users gaining control of their data,” Leslie said in a statement. “Less than one-third of consumers trust their providers to adequately safeguard their data, so providers need to deliver a promise of strong data security with granular control of what is shared and with whom, to encourage consumer participation and willingness to share data.”

Additional research from the report found:

  • In early 2018, the average broadband home hosted 10.4 connected devices, of which 8.6 are connected CE devices;
  • 49% of U.S. broadband households find that a website/app that allows you to delete collected data would increase their confidence in use of an online service; and
  • Netflix credits its recommender system for influencing 80% of hours streamed, with the remaining 20% coming from search.

Roku’s Smart TV Guru Chas Smith Retiring

Roku Dec. 4 announced that Chas Smith, SVP and GM of Roku TVs and players, is expected to retire and leave the company at the end of the first quarter next year. The company has a search underway with a leading executive placement firm to place his successor.

“Over the last several years, Chas has been instrumental in transforming our business,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “He took the idea of giving consumers and TV makers a simple smart TV and made Roku TV the No. 1 licensed smart TV platform in the U.S.”

Smith joined Roku in March 2010 as VP of sales and led online Roku player sales. In 2012, he assumed the role of GM of OEM to lead the Roku TV business. Three years later was promoted to SVP/GM of Roku TV and Roku players and also oversees the whole home division.

Vizio Adds Features to Smart TV Experience

Vizio announced the rollout of new features to its smart TV experience, SmartCast Home, adding such entertainment apps as CBS All Access and allowing users to personalize their SmartCast Home experience via the app sorting feature.

The latest iteration of SmartCast Home is rolling out via free cloud-based updates to Vizio SmartCast 4K Ultra HD TVs and displays, as well as select HD and Full HD models.

“Vizio continues to fulfill consumer demands by way of free, rolling cloud-based updates that enable new, intuitive smart TV features via Vizio SmartCast,” said Vizio chief technology officer Bill Baxter in a statement. “With versatility, simplicity and value in mind, Vizio SmartCast is an ever-evolving entertainment solution. Everyday users, cord-cutters and smart home enthusiasts alike are able to continuously receive new features, the latest apps and other beneficial enhancements that help ensure they are getting the most out of their viewing experience.”

With the update, Vizio SmartCast Home users can sort and position their favorite and most frequented apps on the home screen. To change the order of apps within the app row at the bottom of the SmartCast Home screen, users scroll to the end of the app row and select the “Sort App Row” icon. From there, they will be prompted with on-screen cues that guide them through the process of highlighting and selecting various apps to customize their position.

New to Vizio SmartCast Home is the CBS All Access app, offering such programs as “NCIS,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Madam Secretary”; exclusive original series such as “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Good Fight”; and streaming of local live broadcasts. YouTube TV — which allows SmartCast users to watch and record live TV from more than 60 networks — Baeble and Toon Goggles, among other apps, have also been added to the SmartCast lineup.

With the latest updates, the Vizio WatchFree free streaming service is now also included in the App Row.

SmartCast also now offers dedicated TV and Movie Detail pages highlighting the selected title’s trailer and synopsis, along with cast and director credits, running time, parental ratings, critic insights and more. The TV and Movie Detail pages will also soon allow users to browse seasons and episodes across multiple apps such as FandangoNow and Hulu, and then view on their app of choice.

Roku Inks JVC to Smart TV Program

Roku announced an agreement with China’s Shenzhen MTC Co. to build smart TVs under the JVC brand featuring the Roku operating system. The JVC smart TVs are expected to ship in the U.S. later this year.

“[The] Roku streaming platform … is incredibly easy to use and offers access to countless movies and TV episodes all from the home screen,” John Araki, chief technology officer of JVC, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to marrying our longstanding history of innovation with Roku’s popular smart TV platform as we aim to improve our customers’ everyday life with smartly designed products making life a little more fun.”

The Roku TV licensing program offers TV OEM partners a cost-effective way to build smart TVs connected to the Internet. Roku provides hardware reference designs, so TV brands can offer smart TV options at competitive price points.

The Roku operating system provides consumers with access to an ever-growing library of content as well as regular, automatic software updates.

“We look forward to working with MTC to grow the JVC smart TV presence in the U.S.,” said Chas Smith, GM of Roku TV & Players. “We know most TV manufacturers will license a TV OS and are proud of our low-cost purpose-built solution and the level of collaboration and support that we offer our partners while delivering a superior experience to consumers.”

 

 

One Billion Internet-Connected TV Devices in Use Globally

It’s a streaming video world. There more than one billion connected TV devices now in use worldwide, according to new data from Strategy Analytics.

Connected TV devices – including Smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, video game consoles, streaming media devices – enable users to stream over-the-top video content to the TV.

Smart TVs have been consistently gaining market share and now represent nearly 60% of the total Internet-connected media device installed base.

“The popularity of connected TV, in particular Smart TVs and dedicated media streaming devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast, has grown dramatically over the last few years and has led to a fundamental shift in how consumers view and engage with content on the TV set,” David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

Spearheaded by Roku, Strategy Analytics expects more than 55 million streaming media devices to ship globally this year – about a third of 150 million Smart TV market.

“Sony has long been the global leader in connected TV devices in terms of devices installed in homes thanks not only to its strength in TVs and Blu-ray players, but also as a result of its leading position in the global game console market,” added David Mercer, VP at Strategy Analytics.

The report said Samsung now equals Sony at the top of the rankings in terms of overall installed connected TV device units, and the South Korean company is poised to take the lead in the second half of 2018.

“As Smart TVs take an ever-growing share of the overall market, Samsung will replace Sony at the top of the device footprint rankings later this year thanks to its dominant position in the world’s Smart TV market,” said Mercer.

ComScore Adds Smart TV Data With Inscape Partnership

ComScore has partnered with Inscape to offer opt-in smart TV viewing data to its measurement products in order to help brands better understand the impact of their advertising.

The company says the partnership will bolster ad effectiveness studies designed to help clients understand the extent to which their campaigns met ROI objectives, including purchase-behavior and tune-in, according to a comScore press release.

“Media fragmentation continues to be a challenge for marketers who are seeking ways to optimize their media investment against the activities and channels that drive the most business impact,” said Cathy Hetzel, EVP, commercial, at comScore, in a statement. “Given the growth of smart TV viewership, we understand the importance of this partnership in our aim to deliver clients the sophisticated measurement solutions they need to grow their businesses.”

In its recently published “State of OTT” report, comScore found that across all OTT devices, smart TVs saw the biggest increase (up 35%) in streaming households between April 2017 and April 2018.

“As a leader in both TV and digital media measurement, comScore understands the seismic changes that are taking place as audiences move across platforms,” said Jodie McAfee, SVP of sales and marketing at Inscape, in a statement. “We’re excited to augment their existing linear, on-demand, and OTT data.”

IHS: Internet-Connected TVs Represent 70% of TV Shipments in 2018

Internet-connected televisions featuring third-party apps are expected to generate 70% of total global TV shipments in 2018 – up from 64% in 2017 and 45% in 2015, according to new data from IHS Markit. Global TV shipments are projected to rise 3.5% to 223 million units.

“The rise of streaming video availability worldwide, especially for special events like the World Cup and Olympics, along with continued growth for global streaming video services, have encouraged strong growth in smart TV sales in recent years,” Paul Gagnon, research and analysis executive director at IHS Markit, said in a statement.

Growth of smart TVs is being driven in part by streaming video, which consumers increasingly consider to be a basic TV function comparable to broadcast reception.

Streaming remains the only way to access ultra-high-definition (UHD) content for most consumers, with smart TV reinforcing the value of 4K resolution screens, which are now being sold at mass-market prices. At the same time, the effect of government-imposed mandatory interactivity for TV services in Brazil and Argentina has boosted Latin America into the top three global regions for smart TV adoption.

Android is currently the most popular smart TV operating system platform, including both the full Android TV implementation and modified versions used by many Chinese TV brands.

IHS expects Android will continue to gain share through 2022, as a common third-party platform with native support for Google Home. Proprietary smart TV platforms from Samsung (Tizen) and LG Electronics (WebOS) are the second- and third-most popular smart TV operating system platforms.

According to IHS, Roku TV and Fire TV, currently only available in North America, will gain share, as brands seek common platforms from increased margin pressure. Over the next five years, Roku TV is expected to expand beyond North America. Fire TV might also become available in other regions, provided the U.S. partnership between Amazon and Best Buy is successful.

“The increased availability and integration of Amazon Alexa, Google Home and other popular digital voice assistants will further increase demand for smart TVs in 2018 and beyond,” said Gagnon.

Amazon Eyeing Branded TVs

Move over, Roku. Amazon reportedly is looking to enter the smart TV market.

The e-commerce behemoth’s connected TVs would be similar to Roku’s line of Chinese-made televisions featuring a proprietary operating system, voice-activated remote and embedded apps for over-the-top video.

While nothing official has been announced, the Amazon TV is being tested by DTG, a British product testing services used by manufacturers to demonstrate conformance to a variety of U.K. broadcast standards, according to a report by The Telegraph.

The media outlet – citing multiple sources – said Amazon is pursuing branded TVs after attempts to bring the BBC and major U.K. pay-TV operators into the Amazon Channels ecosystem failed.

Amazon, of course, already markets myriad branded streaming media devices, including Fire TV, Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick and Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD, among others.

Roku launched its first branded TVs in 2014 with line of units manufactured by Chinese vendors such as TCL, Insignia, Hisense and Element, in addition to mainstream Japanese manufacturers such as Sharp, Hitachi, Philips, Sanyo and RCA.

The TVs – like the streaming media devices – offer myriad third-party apps such as Netflix, CBS All Access, HBO Now, PBS Kids, ESPN, Hulu, ABC TV, and Amazon Prime Video, in addition to an ad-supported Roku Channel, and easy access to over-the-air digital TV signals, cable, satellite and telecom connections.

 

Parks: Streaming Media Device Use Tops Smart TV

More homes with high-speed Internet service own a smart TV than a streaming media device, yet usage of Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV is higher, according to new data from Parks Associates.

The research firm found that nearly 40% of broadband-enabled homes own a streaming media device, up from about 6% in 2010.

More than 70% of streaming media player (SMP) owners use their devices at least once per week, compared to 59% of smart TV owners. About 44% of SMP owners use their device daily as compared to 37% of smart TV owners. Almost 50% of smart TV owners also own a streaming media player.

Separately, flat-panel purchases including 4K/Ultra HD technology rose from 14% to 30% among U.S. broadband households.

“Smart TVs earned the highest [score] among consumers out of all the CE products tested, but streaming media players still have higher usage rates, indicating these devices have firmly established their role in their ability to connect users with content quickly and easily,” analyst Kristen Hanich said in a statement.

Amazon’s share of streaming media players owned in U.S. broadband households has increased by 4% since last year, taking some of Google’s share of the installed base. Roku’s share has held steady at 37% for the past year.

“Roku leads in multiple usability categories, while the Apple TV leads in terms of gaming and the ability to purchase content,” said Hanich. “Amazon’s Fire TV has moved up to second place in the ease-of-setup category and is close to the Apple TV’s score in several more, including ease of finding something to watch and ease of purchasing content, which could account in part for its growing market share.”

 

 

LG Adds Hulu With Live TV to Its Smart TVs

LG Electronics USA April 10 announced that its smart TVs now include Hulu with Live TV.

The updated user interface is available on all 2018 and 2017 LG Smart TVs with webOS, as well as select 2016 models.

“As interest in streaming live events continues to rise, we are offering LG smart TV owners a seamless solution that enables them to experience today’s pivotal cultural moments as they are happening from the comfort of their own home,” said Matthew Durgin, director of smart TV content partnerships at LG Electronics USA, in a statement.

Hulu with Live TV offers viewers access to live and on-demand programming from more than 50 top channels, in addition to the service’s on-demand streaming library with thousands of movies and shows. Hulu’s live offering gives viewers access to personal-ized sports experiences, as well as the opportunity to record live TV through the Cloud DVR option. Current LG TV customers with Hulu subscriptions may enjoy Hulu with Live TV by updating their subscription plan.

The 2018 LG Smart TVs with webOS are now available with the updated UI and access to Hulu with Live TV at retailers nationwide.