If you haven’t already heard, 2012 is going to be the year of Connected TV. But what is Connected TV – the next ‘game-changer’, a televisual revolution, or just another over-hyped gamble for brands? And what does it really mean for Sponsorship?
Here’s an overview of Connected TV for the uninitiated:
Let’s look at the facts. Firstly, the TV is still very much at the centre of our entertainment universe. In the UK, we are watching more TV than ever before – a startling average of 120 hours per month – which compares to an average of just 7 hours per month on Facebook.
And last year, of the 9 million TVs sold in the UK, 3m offered some form of ‘connected’ technology (70% of Samsung sets were connected TVs). However, only half of those who have these TVs have ever bothered to connect and only half of those who have connected do so on a regular basis. So, while adoption has been slow, the infrastructure is already in place and just waiting for the revolution to occur.
But haven’t we heard all this before though? Wasn’t interactive TV the future a decade ago? Unlike the false dawn of the mobile internet at the start of the century, developments in both technology and the way people use it have suddenly hit a tipping point for the humble TV – so this time it is for real.
So what’s all the fuss about? What does Connected TV mean and, more importantly, what does it offer the consumer? The presentation below attempts to answer some of those questions:
Simply put, it’s the convergence of TV with the internet to create new content, services and on-screen experiences.
This will include:
A range of content players like Netflix, Hulu, Blinkbox and YouTube will offer both long and short form content with various commercial models (ad funded, pay per view, monthly subscription etc.). All content creators (e.g. movie studios, production houses, even sports rights holders) will have a direct and cheap distribution channel to the consumer, with no need to buy TV bandwidth or pay carriage fees.
The BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and 5, TalkTalk, BT and Arqiva are launching YouView, the connected TV successor to Freeview. With a set top box expected to cost £200 (if it ever launches!) it will combine broadcast and broadband content, while providing an open-source platform for app developers.
In addition, Sky have announced the launch of their own internet TV platform which will offer pay-as-you-go premium services, including catch-up TV, to people who don’t currently subscribe to Sky’s platform.
Google and Apple are making set top boxes and TVs to bring new services to the TV screen, while gaming consoles like Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation are connected devices that already have a strong presence in many living rooms.
Zeebox and Umami are examples of new ‘second screen’ experiences designed for mobiles and tablets. They allow viewers to gather more information about what they are watching, plan their viewing (even serving as remote controls), while enabling and encouraging social interaction and programme participation. Most interestingly for brands, however, is the fact that it closes the feedback loop, making TV more like on-line in terms of understanding who engages with what content and how.
This will allow Zeebox, for example, to enable brands to serve up targeted content for each viewer. And, of course, it creates a very direct pathway between what you see on TV and the opportunity to buy via e-commerce. “Do you like this song, her shoes, his shirt, this book, that holiday? Well here’s the link to buy it.”
All of this adds up to a potential TV viewing revolution which will impact everything, including what you watch, who creates and delivers your content, how that content is funded, what advertisements you see, what the admen know about you, how your TV experiences are shared and how you will end up paying for it.
So, what does it mean for brands and what does it mean for sponsorship? As a starter for 10, here are a few trends, ideas and opportunities that are worth considering:
Bespoke Companion Apps:
Sponsorship-specific companion apps can provide fantastic opportunities for sponsors to enhance fans’ enjoyment of an asset while opening up a new channel through which to speak to them. A great example is the RBS 6 Nations Live Challenge (featured in the February edition of Synopsis), which tested the audience’s rugby knowledge by challenging them to make real-time, in-game predictions and answer relevant trivia questions. Betfair have just launched a Euro 2012 App which optimises the audiences ability to bet in-game, while Sky gives the F1 fanatic the ability to deep-dive into the sport’s technical detail with its F1 Companion App.
In a world of too much choice it becomes more and more difficult for consumers to accidentally stumble across content perfect for them. This has to be introduced – a ‘managed discovery’ – where someone that knows what you like and you respect (i.e. a brand) suggests content for you to consume.
Sponsorship gives brands access to content which people are really passionate about, so curating it into relevant music playlists, videos, photos, games and experiences is another way to get invited into their lives.
Creating the content that your customers want is more time-consuming and risky but just as relevant, and Connected TV is making this a much more attractive proposition for brands. Firstly, it gives brands the ability to distribute their content directly to their audience for a very low costs (without having to pay carriage costs to the major platforms). More importantly, however, it also allows brands to create direct sales channels and capture customer data which delivers a much clearer line-of-sight to revenue generation.
Foster’s are in this mode at the moment with their ‘Foster’s Funny’ new Fast Show episodes, while BMW Presents: The Ultimate Performance is a brilliant series of four short films featuring Louis Smith, Rebecca Adlington, David Weir and Steve Cram which connects the brand to its Olympic sponsorship by exploring various angles on what it takes to deliver the ultimate performance.
Connected TV could drive major changes to the typical broadcasting rights model. With the internet providing a global distribution channel, the old country-by-country sale of broadcast rights is starting to look pretty archaic. Here’s a prediction: YouTube will bid for the global broadcasting rights for a major event within the next 5 years.
Connected TV could also significantly change the dynamic for ‘minority’ passion points which don’t currently receive significant TV coverage. There could be global ‘channels’ devoted to passion points like winter sports, triathlon, netball, martial arts, rock climbing, sailing, polo, opera, ballet, yoga, theatre, fashion, shoes, and every kind of music under the sun. The value of sponsorship within these passion points is currently held back by a lack of broad exposure. Connected TV could really help unlock this value creating exciting new sponsorship opportunities for brands.
Connected TV is here, it’s new and this time it means business. Whilst consumers have yet to engage en masse, the battle for platform dominance is still to play out and the commercial models that drive it are still fluid, it is clear that Connected TV opens a whole new world of opportunities for sponsors to drive new sources of value.
This is not the time to sit on the sidelines; this is the time to test and learn.
This month’s Synopsis Thought Piece was contributed by Pete Edwards, Director of Strategy at Engine.
By Synergy on May 31st, 2012