[This post is a re-posting of a blog from the Dachis Group]
In my last blog post I wrote about TV ads being flat. I feel that the entire TV experience needs improving and that none of the big players have gotten it right. In this post I’m going to lay out what is missing and what I think the TV experience should be.
TV should be social and have a lightweight Experience Layer that enables consumers to engage with what they are watching in a semi-passive manner. The application platforms by Samsung, Sony, et al. as they are today don’t have what it takes to transform the TV experience. All of the apps that I have seen interrupt the native experience of watching TV. More importantly, TV manufacturers lack the data needed to create a truly seamless and engaging experience. In order to create an experience that is both semi-passive and truly enriches the native TV experience, there needs to be a meta-data layer that unlocks the signal and content. Information bytes such as what channel am I on, what am I watching, who is that character, what is that object in the background, and what is happening at this minute in the program are the missing links. Access to this type of data lies with the cable and content providers, who have, unfortunately, not yet realized what a powerful experience and business value they can unlock by working together.
The other major piece missing is the social graph. The TV needs to know who I am and what I care about. As such, Facebook should be the identity and relationship management platform of the TV. Just as cell phone makers are integrating Facebook deep into their phones, so should the social graph be deeply integrated into the set top box. Consumers should have a profile with preferences just as they have on Facebook and those preferences should carry over throughout the TV watching experience.
The last thing that needs to change is the remote control. Where is my Like button? Where are my Info or Buy buttons? Where are the swipe actions? This type of a remote could be replace the current remote types or be powered by a stand-alone mobile app.
Now that we have all of the pieces, let’s get to the fun part: the experience. The platform that I am envisioning is not a completely open platform. Anyone can build an app/experience, however, the cable providers and most notably the content owners will have the final say on what can and can not be integrated with their programming. For those familiar with how Facebook’s platform works, think of the set top box as being the Facebook Platform, the program (show or movie) being a brand owned page on Facebook, and the networks being the corporation that owns multiple brands. Anyone can build an app on Facebook, but not every app will make it onto an owned media channel, a brand owned page on Facebook or in the case of the TV, a program. Below, I am going to highlight three types of experiences that provide tangible value to both the consumers and brands:
1. A commercial (Super Bowl )
Imagine the Darth Vader Volkswagen commercial: what if you could roll over the car and Facebook Like it; what if you could roll over the car and be presented with the option for a 360º view and complete specs, or to set up a test drive at a local dealer; what if you could roll over other items in the commercial and find out more information about them?
2. A movie
Let’s take one of my favorites, The Thomas Crown Affair: what if you could hover over Catherine Banning’s favorite green drink concoction and find out what it was; what if you could buy the movie soundtrack with a swipe of your remote; or what if you could find out the back-story about the house that they snuck away to in the Caribbean?
3. A sporting event
Think about watching a baseball game on a lazy summer afternoon: what if you could hover over the player and get up to the minute stats; what if you could, with a click or two of your remote, check to see if tickets are available for the next time your favorite team is in town; what if you could find out more information on the products that your favorite players are using?
Would brands find integration into the above-mentioned experiences more valuable? Would consumers find value in them and the overall TV experience more engaging? Is there tangible business value to be unlocked here? I think yes to all. The difference between what I am describing and what exists today is that the experience is a semi-passive, seamless one that is integrated directly into and overlayed on top of programing. There is no unwanted intrusion. Consumers only engage with the experience when they want to, in the way that they want to.
The possibilities abound. In the end I’m not sure how it will all play out. However, I know that the TV manufacturers are not going to win this one. The winner in this game is either going to be a new startup, Facebook, the cable giants, or a combination thereof. Experience TV FTW.