Category Archives: IPTV

The Connected TV Usability Index – coming soon…

The Connected TV blog seems a good place to announce a new venture which farncombe, which hosts this site, is currently working on. This new endeavour involves benchmarking the usability of connected TV devices.

Those of us with access to a connected TV experience – whether on a smart TV, games console, laptop, tablet or set-top box – will all have our favourite bugbears about the connected user experience: the number of clicks it takes to call up a particular piece of on-demand content, over-complex remotes that don’t match what’s on the EPG, screens that are difficult to navigate, etc. etc.

But is it possible to create a standardised set of objective, quantifiable tests with which to assess and compare the user-friendliness of all these different screens?

Well, farncombe thinks it is. Using the knowledge and experience of its engineers at the Farncombe Test Lab in Vauxhall, London (which is already carrying out technical testing on some of our clients’ hybrid receivers), as well as the EPG design knowhow of its user experience practice, WeAreAka, farncombe has worked out a standardised battery of tests that assesses the most common ‘user journeys’ on connected TV devices, the types of feature that improve usability, and the kind of bad UX design practices best avoided.

Over the coming months farncombe will be refining its thinking, testing an initial batch of connected TV devices, and publishing some of the early results as a new industry monitor provisionally dubbed ‘The Connected TV Usability Index’.

The intention is to create a benchmark for viewers and industry alike, by regularly reporting which connected TV devices are ‘best in class’ for a particular usability category – and thereby helping consumers make a more informed choice as they migrate towards this complex emerging market. The first manufacturers are already signed up.

Farncombe believes that manufacturers and operators alike will find the index a valuable tool to help them understand how to enhance the TV viewing user experience.

If you are a connected TV device manufacturer and you believe your user experience is best-in-class, then there is still time for you to be involved at no cost. Please click here to contact us.

If you want to share with us your suggestions about those features you believe should be on our shortlist – and even those which are the most irritating – then we welcome your comments.

Watch this space for more details!

Only 37% will buy connected TVs for broadband – YouGov

A survey by UK pollster YouGov suggests that well under half of UK consumers (37%) planning to buy a Connected TV will buy it because it is broadband-enabled. Instead, the most common reason for intending to buy one is simply having a more up-to-date TV – a factor cited by 50% of potential purchasers.

YouGov found that the most important feature of Connected TVs amongst people who already owned one was the picture quality (cited by 96% of owners) followed by the size of the screen (93%) then sound quality (89%).

Furthermore, only half (53%) of Connected TV owners correctly identified a Connected TV as a TV that connects to the Internet without the need for another device; while one in four (25%) Connected TV owners have never used it to connect to the internet.

YouGov commented that the profile for adoption of Connected TV sets in technology terms was “very similar” to that of iPad owners: “These are the kind of people who are willing to make a big ticket purchase without quite realising what they’ve bought.”

Other data shows that amongst owners of Connected TVs, over one third (36%) have a Sony, followed by Samsung (33%) then Panasonic (16%). However, almost two-thirds (62%) of people planning to purchase one in the next 12 months are considering Samsung, followed by Sony (48%) and Panasonic (40%).

Meanwhile, over one quarter (26%) say they plan to buy an Apple TV, even though the manufacturer has not yet launched one.

The research is likely to be a major talking-point at the Connected TV Summit later this week, at which farncombe will be speaking as well as chairing.

IBC 2011 – The wall-size interactive display surfaces at NDS

Take a screen as big as a wall linked to a connected TV, open half a dozen of the OTT apps or widgets at once, and enlarge and scatter them around a centrally-displayed video image. In a nutshell, that’s the NDS ‘Surfaces’ concept: an imagined scenario of how future display technologies could be deployed that the technology company believes could be only five years away.

However, the dynamic visual experience this set-up makes available is considerably richer than that thumbnail sketch would suggest. Controlled through a tablet, ambient lighting can be varied, the video display expanded and shrunk, and different sets of widgets called up depending on who’s in the room. In one of the scenarios shown, a family breakfasting could have weather and travel information showing either side of a TV news bulletin ‘screen’, below which a display of contextual headlines (triggered by tags embedded in the news video stream) would continually update.

Other scenarios showed the entire wall being used for an expanded super HD movie viewing (with the lights dimmed), and a talent show invoking social media applications such as Twitter or Facebook around the screen, together with a voting app. One of the key notions involved is the triggering of changes in the display through meta-data in the broadcast stream.

Simon Parnall, UK Vice President Technology at NDS, said one of the motives behind the demonstration was a recognition that more attention needed to be paid to the consumer’s viewing experience. Given the continually expanding screen sizes available, the scenario being presented was not that far-fetched, he suggested.

The wall-sized video ‘surface’ apart, all the technologies used were available today, with the entire demonstration being run through a Google Chrome web browser using the new HTML-5 standard.

 

Farncombe designs UI for Digiturk’s new hybrid digital TV service

Farncombe has announced that WeAreAka, its design practice, played a key role in the development of the user experience for Digiturk’s new hybrid IPTV service.
Targeting a launch at the end of 2011, the new digital TV service marries satellite with IPTV delivery through a hybrid digital video recorder from Sagemcom – providing sophisticated video-on-demand and catch-up TV features alongside the Turkish operator’s established linear multichannel satellite broadcasts.
The full press release can be found here.

Non-linear delivery: Nielsen and IHS tell traditional broadcasters not to worry… yet

Two new pieces of research suggest a limited impact so far by OTT and non-linear TV delivery systems on traditional forms of TV consumption:
1) First, IHS is claiming that ‘Broadcasters Have No Cause for Panic Over Rise of Nonlinear TV’, based on predictions that DVR, on-demand and other forms of nonlinear programming will account for “only 15.8% of television viewing in the United States in 2015, up from 9.9% in 2010″ – while in the UK, non-linear will account for 12.7% of television viewing in 2015, up from 7.8% in 2010 (see here).
2) Second, Videonuze, citing a new study by Nielsen and CTAM for the US market, concludes - with caveats – that for those fearing that video consumption through mobile and connected devices threatens to disrupt traditional linear TV viewership, it may not be “happening en masse, at least not yet”. The study suggests that 85% of video app users are watching the same or more regularly scheduled [amounts of] TV.