One of the most interesting pieces of research I did last year was for a management consultancy that wanted to create a piece about the future ofSmart TV. In a nutshell, Smart TV’s are internet connected TV’s that, amongst other things, utilise a menu of apps so the viewer can use it not only to watch TV, but also to access the internet to visit their favourite sites.
Often using split screens, viewers can multi-task i.e. watch the Brits and Tweet about it to your followers. I did the research in June ‘11 and struggled to find owners, partly because the penetration was minuscule, but also because people often overlooked this aspect in the purchase as the primary motivator in the purchase was the 3D functionality. They often didn’t know the TV had the functionality.
You’ll find any TV that you purchase from 2012 onwards will have this functionality. The prices are already coming down, especially for Samsung Smart TV’s, which now command a small price premium over the ‘normal’ TV’s.
It struck me at the time that a research app. could feasibly sit in the list of apps on a Smart TV, nestling next to Amazon, Ebay, MSN and Facebook. It begs the question, why? Well, why not?
In the next few years the TV may become a centre of entertainment where we will be able to order a take out, Skype or buy groceries. It may become a central hub for communication as well, with social media being the dominant force driving the trend away from communicating via email or text. With incentives, a research app on the TV will allow participants to access virtual discussion groups, bulletin boards or virtual depths, and fill out surveys in a convenient and relaxed way.
There are big possibilities for media research. Live reactions to TV advertising and TV shows are the most obvious benefit, with participants giving you instant reaction in a controlled and moderated environment.
Why not? Well, the big issue is weather people would be prepared to divert their TV screen time, the majority of which is often devoted to entertainment in the evening after a hard days graft. The role of the television comes into question. Another issue is the type of participant. In the short term this is a niche audience opportunity, but with my long term goggles on I can see that in no time the majority of TV’s will be Smart. It could be 3 or 4 years down the line before it has mass opportunity.
Either way, I’ll be keeping an eye on how consumers are using their Smart Tv’s.