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CES2014: Context is Everything

While I didn’t get the chance to make it to CES this year, my past experience of managing Yahoo Canada’s Tech channel and more recently, consulting with Tech clients, have meant it is a conference I’ve watched closely (albeit remotely) for the last eight years or so.

The event kicks off with keynotes from major technology firms showcasing their next gen tech and is followed by a massive convention of showcases from start-ups to established consumer electronics brands. Here are the two main observations from the myriads of demos and videos I’ve watched online:

Internet of things, be GONE!: With the breadth of devices leveraging the web as part of their DNA quickly escalating, there is an expectation of the benefits the internet should bring to simplify the product experience. For example, Fuelband competitors like Atlas (http://atlaswearables.com/) that can leverage multiple sensors to pinpoint what type of activity a user is engaged in (vs. just counting steps) and then recommend improvements, and home appliances like Whirlpool’s Interactive Cooktop (http://youtu.be/6frHH5OtXU4) that simplify the cooking experience.

The integration of the internet into ‘things’ as a movement will continue, but the successful solutions will be ones that ensure their user function is focused on creating an enhanced experience vs. just having an access point to the internet. With the plethora of devices we have at hand these days, it’s a natural evolution for simplification to be the next step.

Car Re-Invention: Auto manufacturers have been integrating a slew of technology into their space for years. This year, the advent of autonomous (self-driving) cars had smart vehicles driving into press conferences and around the Las Vegas Convention Center and World Trade Center. While the likelihood of this rolling out for mass use is still several years away, the hardware required to power it has evolved from needing the full trunk of a sedan to the size of a laptop, as demonstrated by Audi’s zFAS (chttp://www.technologyreview.com/news/523351/ces-2014-audi-shows-off-a-compact-brain-for-self-driving-cars/) circuit in just one year. In addition, the combined news that Chevrolet and Audi will bring dedicated 4G LTE connections and the multi OEM Open Automotive Alliance to bring Google’s Android platform (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-06/google-teams-with-gm-honda-and-audi-to-bring-android-to-cars) to cars will mean that cars could soon become a new media channel (especially once self-driving functionality becomes a reality!).

This future vision of wearable tech and smart cars is a reflection of consumers’ expectation that personalized and contextually relevant experiences are as mobile as they are. And it means that marketers and their agencies need to be poised to consider how they will prepare today to engage with consumers in the longer term in spaces where content and context will be critical levers of success. Exciting times ahead! We’re you at or following CES? Please share your observations…

Article previously appeared: http://mediaincanada.com/2014/01/10/ces2014-context-is-everything/#ixzz2qHUB2Z2T

Filed under ces tech context TV self driving cars content marketing ces2014 audi whirlpool

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Chromecast, the Next Great Living Room Gadget?
Robin Hassan (@robinkayh) and Michael Neale (@mediacommn) of global media agency MediaCom on why the new device could be the one that changes the TV industry.

Last Wednesday Google launched Chromecast, a 2-inch device that allows consumers to convert any standard HDMI TV into a ‘smart TV’. For just $35, this device uses home wifi to evolve their Chrome enabled ‘second’ device (smartphone, tablet or laptop - iOS and Android) into a remote control for web content viewable on the TV screen. Apple TV (at a $99 cost) and Microsoft’s new Xbox One ($499) stream content to TVs but with significant technical limitations.

Unsurprisingly, the device quickly sold out on Amazon and Best Buy online, yet had well over (mostly positive) 100 amazon reviews in under 48 hours. Streaming content available on the device is limited initially (Netflix, Google Play, YouTube and Web-based Streaming is allowed) but is expected to grow substantially. Already, content partners from across the spectrum of pure digital (AOL) to concert (Clear Channel) to streaming music (Pandora and Songza) players are working to support the platform.

With its low barriers in terms of cost and technical complexity for consumers, and SDK support for developers, Chromecast is expected to have wide adoption (despite current sell out state) in ways that Apple TV has not.

All of this has fueled much excitement that it will ‘break open’ the TV ecosystem. Chromecast, appears to be the first device that speaks to consumer’s long documented but unaddressed multi device usage (via smartphone/tablet) behavior in the living room. It also rolls out a platform will allow publishers to create apps, or websites (in Chrome) with consistent functionality. Even more interesting is the so-called “cast” button. Similar to websites that incorporate Facebook’s “like” button, the cast button enables users to stream content from websites or mobile apps directly to a TV via Chromecast.

So, what does this mean in Canada?
Realistically, the content and user experience still have a way to go before Chromecast has a significant role to play in the Canadian marketplace (including being available in Canada). That said, it raises some interesting considerations for our industry.
1) Delivering on ‘TV my way’: With the roll out of the TV everywhere strategy by some of our Canadian broadcasters, we are getting consistently closer to a tipping point where more TV programming available through web based streaming (vs. traditional sources). The limitation (until now) has been a lack of ways for consumers to get the personalization they want in a simple and affordable way. Consider the fact that Netflix is addressing this consumer demand has seen substantial growth: from zero to 2 million subscribers in only 3 years and time spent per viewer at 10 hours per month (comparable with Shaw conventional TV). As Chrome’s content library includes Netflix as well as YouTube, Google Play and any Chrome built viewers it certainly delivers on this consumer demand.
2) Reaching Younger Demos: Broadcasters need to continue to find new ways to embrace emerging technologies in Canada. While the industry is still fairly protected today, the TV revenue cake will be nibbled at if not at this point sliced up. Younger demos will be harder to reach via linear TV alone as the potential to “cord shave” is further enabled through devices like Chromecast.
3) Real time data: One of the biggest advantages that Netflix has applied to their content creation process has been access to their subscriber data. to the point of ordering entire show series with no need for the traditional broadcast process. The Chromecast device will bring that advantage to Google and apply pressure on traditional research metrics as the real time data ‘becomes’ the research.

The big opportunity is if Google in partnership with content producers/broadcasters, can determine ways to enhance the Chromecast experience with a radical content strategy then this could indeed be a true game-changer for television.

Previously appeared on MediainCanada.com June 30, 2013

Filed under chromecast chrome google tv netflix millenials

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Twitter Encouraging Live TV Viewing

Second screen engagement appears to be bringing back some of the original magic of watching TV shows live.

Brands and shows that provide an official hashtag early in TV spots see significantly better audience use (even when hashtag is longer). That said, UK viewers are 2x more likely to use official hashtag vs. US viewers.

Very limited adoption of this in Canada right will be interesting to see how broadcasters leverage this to support Canadian productions!

Filed under twitter tv reality uk us hashtag brand second screen

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More #Canadian #Content on Youtube than CBC/CTV Produced in Past 50 years!

Perhaps this means its time to rethink the purple cow of broadcast that US Content trumps Canadian shows. CBC’s recent hits ‘Being Erica’ and ‘Little Mosque’ (shelved due to funding not audience interest) prove that wedo have the chops it becomes an issue of funding via advertising or government support. But perhaps there are more options like leveraging companion experiences, something CBC experimentwd with recently » http://www.techvibes.com/blog/canadian-tv-show-leverages-the-second-screen-to-achieve-incredible-engagement-infographic-2012-04-13

Or looking at Crowd funding sites like Kickstarter.com perhaps? The bottom line is that the content space is due for a major disruption soon. We know consumers still love their entertainment content and they will do what ever they can to ensure they survive. As an avid ‘Fringe’ fan, I was alarmed when Fox gave the show the dreaded Friday night time slot a couple season ago. But watched with facination as the elusive 18-34 segment of show watchers started watching live and interacting with show producers and actors to keep the show alive!

Time to throw out purple cows, and get ready for a brand new world… Now, that’s entertainment my friends!

Filed under Content CBC Ctv YouTube Video Canadian Tv Broadcaster Digital

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Companion Apps Help Tablets Leapfrog PC as Second Video screen

According to a recent Viacom study, tablets have exceeded laptops as the second screen for watching full length premium video content with 15% share. A big contributor is uniquely designed companion apps that bring unique content experiences to audiences. If you havent seen it yet, you should check out the Bravo Top Chef program… http://www.dm2pro.com/articles/20110825_1

The big question from a mktg pov is how broadcasters will bring this to life in branded entertainment experiences. We’ll also have to wait and see how Canadian broadcasters will translate this in ways that extend beyond contests…

Filed under companion app bravo top chef tablet tv video

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Futurama’s Planet Express in Lego!!

This is a pretty neat creation from Pepa Quin - it showcases the Futurama show’s New New York. Some of the features include: Planet Express, Applied Cryogenics, Head Museum plus many of the characters! (And took 2 years to complete)

The sentiment around this (and a recent "Arrested Development" model) appears to be quite positive from show fans… makes me wonder if Lego could become a great a transmedia franchise for TV shows, as well as they have been for Motion Picture releases (eg. Harry Potter & Star Wars).

Filed under lego futurama UGC social media transmedia tv