Returning to the TV Screen: The Potential of Content Unification in iTV

Returning to the TV Screen: The Potential of Content Unification in iTV

Jorge Ferraz Abreu (University of Aveiro, Portugal), Pedro Almeida (University of Aveiro, Portugal), Ana Velhinho (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and Enrickson Varsori (University of Aveiro, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8163-5.ch007
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Given the continuous transformation of the video consumption across multiple devices, this chapter has the main goal of characterizing the viewer behaviors at home, including the motivations for specific interactive television (iTV) features. An online survey was conducted with the aim of clarifying if the consumption patterns at home are contributing to the demand for unification services that combine videos from internet sources with TV content. The results highlight some insights regarding the preferred devices depending on age and the content source, as well as limitations and valued features to be considered in the development of future unification and personalization services. The results from this study are useful, not only to understand the dynamics of audiovisual consumption regarding the “future of television,” but can also be applied to foster product-oriented projects based on the synergies between behavioral factors, technological innovations, and industry trends regarding audiences' needs and UX.
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Currently, the world is facing deep changes in audiovisual consumption habits that also have impact on the understanding of the role of TV, as a medium that nowadays is no longer confined to live broadcasting. Sustained by Streaming and Video-on-Demand (VoD) services, people are changing the way they watch audiovisual content, by migrating from the traditional approach of watching linear TV to non-linear TV and sources streamed over the internet, known as Over the Top (OTT) content (Abreu, Nogueira, Becker, & Cardoso, 2017). Simultaneously, the establishment of the new “Anywhere and Anytime” culture, mostly provided by constant advances on mobile devices, ensures ubiquitous access to Internet video, leading frequently to a transmutation of the primary screens (Vanattenhoven & Geerts, 2015a, 2015b). Pay-TV operators are, thus, working hard to make online video content available on their platforms. As they try to cope with the emergence of the cord cutters, they are committed to grant access to different mobile and web apps. Furthermore, personalized content can be provided by predicting which is the most appropriate content for each consumer, according to their viewing habits and reliable algorithms.

Pay-TV operators are also making the traditional line-up of TV content more flexible, offering services such as “catch-up TV” and “time-shift” in more engaging systems, supported by current User Interface (UI) paradigms (Abreu et al., 2017). In overall, Portugal is playing an important role regarding the offer of TV services by these operators, and is one of the most prominent countries in Europe where Pay-TV operators provide nonlinear alternative services (catch-up TV) to the linear-TV content offer (Abreu et al., 2017). The Pay-TV penetration in Portugal reached 89% of the households in 2017 and is expected to grow slowly but steadily to 94% by 2021, with Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services having a prominent role since 2013 (Patel, 2017). Consumer demands and users' preferences for VoD content are heavily influencing how Pay-TV operators provide content beyond traditional linear TV. In the third trimester of 2017, about 5.5% of individuals aged 10 or over had access to subscribed to streaming services, such as Netflix, Fox Play, NPlay or Amazon Prime Video (ANACOM, 2017; Patel, 2017). Pay-TV Portuguese high competitive market is currently being occupied by operators, such as Altice and NOS, which offer many HD channels and OTT mobile services (e.g., MEO Go, NOS TV).

This backdrop leads to new unification approaches that aim to offer video from different sources (OTT and TV) at the same level, on unique and simple UI, while maintaining the user within the operators’ TV ecosystem (Almeida, Abreu, Silva, Guedes, et al., 2018; Almeida, Abreu, Silva, Varsori, et al., 2018). This unifying opportunity is especially significant at home, where the big TV screen is still the preferred device for watching TV but isn't the favorite device for watching internet content by the youngest generations (Ericsson, 2017), which are becoming more demanding as more available options to watch audiovisual content arise. However, current solutions offering unified video content do not provide an optimal User eXperience (UX), considering that consumers still need to jump from TV-app to TV-app (e.g., jumping between the Netflix TV-apps to YouTube or Facebook videos) to access content from different sources/providers.

Taking in consideration this context, an online survey was developed and disseminated with the purpose of clarifying the motivations for using specific devices to watch audiovisual content in different contexts, as we move towards a possible scenario of unification and personalization in the TV. This data collection instrument is focused on the choice of device depending on the genre and source of the content; the use of connected devices to the TV; group or individual TV viewing; constraints found in their current Pay-TV service; and the most valued features on an Interactive Television (iTV) service, among other issues.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cord Cutters: Viewers that cancel their subscription and pay-TV services, usually opting for content available over the internet.

Catch-Up TV: Service that offers recorded content from previous days based on an automated or editorial process of converting linear TV to on-demand videos.

Over-the-Top (OTT) Content: Audiovisual content streamed over the internet, mostly using on-demand services.

Video-on-Demand (VOD): Service that allows retrieving free or paid audiovisual content whenever required by the user.

User Interface (UI): A layer that allows the communication between a user and a system. It usually includes graphic elements like texts, images, buttons and icons within a surface like a screen or a page.

User Experience (UX): Is focused on several dimensions related with perceptions and emotions raised by the interaction with a product. Good user experience must encompass and enhance both the goals of the product and the users’ needs.

Non-Linear TV: A method based on using on-demand services to watch a show at any time allowing video replay actions (e.g. pause, fast forward, rewind, etc.). It is opposed to linear content broadcasted accordingly to a predefined schedule.

Time-Shift: The ability to watch or replay a show after being broadcast.

Unification of Content: Aggregation of content from different sources (TV and OTT) over the same user interface offering the same user experience.

TV Ecosystem: Social and technologic media landscape related to the audiovisual and TV field. Currently, this ecosystem includes industry players, managed operated networks, over-the-top services, multiple screens, and users with different viewing behaviors.

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