Despite all that they promise Smart TVs are not user friendly, nor are they feature-packed. In a market awash with tablets, smartphones and other devices capable of providing access to digital content, the current generation of Smart TVs aren’t ‘smart’ enough to compete. The UI is the key to changing this.
The primary benefit of Smart TV, opposed to a linear TV experience, ought to be the ability to easily access a wide range of compelling new applications and services, from Video on Demand (VoD) and catch-up TV to games and social networking. However, many viewers forego the relaxing environment of the living room because Smart TV UIs are far too difficult to navigate and still prefer to use well-established alternatives (PCs, smartphones or tablets) to engage with this media.
The success of these second screen devices, particularly tablets, can be attributed to their ease of use, driven by a touch-based user interface. Rather than navigating complex menu trees or scrolling through pages of text, users can jump straight to the content they’re looking for by selecting the relevant app. Second screen devices provide users with an intuitive portal to access all their online content. To compete, the Smart TV UI needs to evolve so it can offer a comparable experience that is also easy to interact with.
However, there are several situations where second screen devices can complement Smart TV technology, for example engaging with Social TV. A recent report from Red Bee Media found that 55% of viewers were keen to interact with TV shows through polls and in-app voting, while 52% responded positively to participating in or ultimately influencing the outcome of a live TV show by playing along at home.
As second screens are often personal devices, suited to individual use, they lend themselves well to multiplayer entertainment. A smartphone or tablet PC is ideal for interactive card games, as every player can have their own hand in front of them and the smaller screen of a tablet device can be shielded from others. When playing a poker game, for example, second screen devices can be used to represent the hands of individual players, while a Smart TV can display communal cards and tracks each player’s cash flow.
I have mentioned several times on this blog how the UI is essential to increasing Smart TV engagement, and second screen adoption rates only further demonstrate this. It’s clear that a more intuitive UI is needed to encourage viewers to fully interact with Smart TV services – particularly in light of the overlap between these two technologies. The success of second screens, coupled with the potential to replicate this success on a larger scale, could be the catalyst the television industry has been looking for to kick-start the Smart TV revolution.
Part two of this blog series will look at the limitations of second screen devices with regards to interacting with Smart TVs and why an alternative solution is required.