TVTechnology: 10 Questions About Next-Gen TV

By: Deborah D. McAdams
Reprinted with permission from TVTechnology
LOS ANGELES—We asked folks to answer 10 questions about “Next-gen TV,” the consumer appellation for the TV content distributed over new technology from the Advanced Television Systems Committee. 

TV Technology asked about respondents’ viewing habits and profession, plus a series of eight questions to gauge the level of interest in these advanced features. Mobility rated the most interest, with 58 percent saying they’d be “very interested” in “being able to view free TV on smartphones, tablets and laptops in moving cars, trains, or other mobile environments.” Free 4KTV was next with 57 percent “very interested.” (We used “free” since rules covering the current broadcast TV standard require broadcasters to provide the primary service for free, and pay 5 percent of gross revenues of any ancillary pay service.)

Next was device-activating emergency alerts—53 percent were “very interested,” though comments revealed some skepticism due in part to what is perceived as similar smartphone functionality. Immersive audio was next with 49 percent at very interested. Of the total, 42 percent were “absolutely” willing to buy a 3.0-enabled receiver; 37 percent were “very interested” in interactivity; 35 percent in program portability and 23 percent were “fine” with ads based on data mined from their personal media usage.

4KTV: 57
EAS: 53

We had 101 respondents, 67 percent of whom work in “content creation, app development, media distribution or communications,” according to their response to question No. 10 below. Here, we present the questions, the aggregated result of responses, and a few of the comments. Each question is linked to an individual page that includes all comments, which average about 40 each. 

Q1: How interested are you in free television service that’s interactive, like the internet?
The overall response indicates positive but not enthusiastic interest in free interactive TV. Forty percent said they were “very” interested; 45 percent are “somewhat” interested, and 15 percent, “not at all.” Reasons vary, but the comments convey a general sense of interactivity fatigue.

  1. I have all the interactivity I can handle, thank you.
  2. Not being interactive seems unnatural.
  3. I’m not sure how that would work in actuality, but it’s an interesting concept that should be explored.
  4. Not sure why interactive would be useful.
  5. I have tried the BBC’s attempts at this and they are very irritating.

Q2: How do you feel about a free TV service that activates a device to deliver emergency alerts?
Several commenters noted that smartphones already wake up to blare out storm warnings and Amber Alerts. Others asked about disabling the feature or being able to define the alert types they wanted to receive. 

Of all respondents, 53 percent were very interested; 31 percent, somewhat; and 16 percent, not at all interested in a free TV service that activates devices to deliver emergency alerts.

  1. Unless I have the ability to select what kind of emergency it delivers, I’ll just disable it. I really don’t need Amber Alerts in the middle of the night when I’m sleeping, but I wouldn’t be at all annoyed by a forest fire alert if the fire could move to my neighborhood.
  2. Most reliable emergency communications system in an increasingly dangerous and dynamic world.
  3. No one seems to understand television will be the first to go in an attack. TV alerts are duplicitous.
  4. I’m more likely to lose internet in an emergency than free TV.
  5. Eh, my smartphone already does that.

Q3: How interested are you being able to view free TV on smartphones, tablets and laptops in moving cars, trains or other mobile environments?
A majority professed to be “very interested” in the features of TV everywhere, but those features alone won’t make a new free TV everywhere service a slam dunk, according to commenters. As one noted, “portability is expected.” 

Others are done trying to watch any type of long-form content on smartphones, or chasing content across devices over an app trail. A few others appear to be “TV’d out,“ a highly reasonable response during an election year. Nonetheless, of all respondents, 58 percent were very interested; 30 percent, somewhat; and 12 percent—not at all.

  1. Not something I care about; no time to mess with.
  2. This can only increase consumer choices and really has no downside.
  3. Prefer to sit on the couch and watch in HD.
  4. Portability is what is expected.
  5. Without this business model, TV is dead.

Q4: How interested are you in the ability to move from TV to tablet to smartphone without missing a scene in a show or a play in a sporting event?
There is detectable desire among this sample group to not be glued to the TV. Sports, however, tends to be a different story. Viewership for the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the WorldCup typically exceeds all other types of programming. 

The breakdown here is 35 percent very interested; 37 percent somewhat interested and 27 percent not at all interested in what amounts to portable TV content.

  1. This would be a minor convenience only.
  2. This would be a great feature in today’s mobile environment.
  3. I’m not desperate to keep staring at a screen as I perambulate.
  4. We do that now with documents. It’s a natural and expected evolution.
  5. There is more to life than TV.
  6. Sporting events can be decided on one play. [I’d] hate to miss it.

How interested are you in a free Ultra HDTV service?
The overall response to a free Ultra HDTV service is positive, and rated most highly after free TV everywhere (No. 3). Both technologies are currently available, but not necessarily for free, and not necessarily with the same interface. 

Folks with Ultra HDTVs tend to say bring on the content. Others are either concerned about having to buy a new TV, or are not impressed enough by the jump in resolution over HD it to buy a new TV set. Of all respondents, 57 percent were very interested; 30 percent, somewhat; and 13 percent—not at all.

  1. Still don’t have enough content available to convince me to upgrade, so every little bit helps.
  2. Not sure what Ultra HDTV is and if my existing TV can support it.
  3. Must be compatible with my new 1080i HDTV set!
  4. I own a 4K display, so I’d be very interested.
  5. I cannot understand the desire for that kind of resolution on a small screen.

Q6: How interested are you in a free TV service that provides immersive audio, replaceable dialogue and other advanced audio capabilities?
Nearly half of respondents are very interested in advanced audio features. Of all respondents, 49 percent were very interested; 32 percent, somewhat; and 19 percent—not at all.

  1. Present surround sound is only received by a small percentage of the viewing audience. I don’t see ATSC 3.0 changing that significantly.
  2. This could be very cool if content producers come up with compelling ways to use it.
  3. The audio improvements are not as bandwidth intensive as UHD and I believe that audio can enhance the experience more than increasing the pixel count.
  4. Immersive audio increases the intensity of the moment. Replacing dialogue with Klingon could be fun.
  5. Interesting, but not likely to buy a new speaker set to hear it.
  6. I don’t feel these are services I’d utilize.

Q7: How do you feel about advertisements based on data mined from your personal media usage?
As much as personalized, granular advertising has become the Holy Grail of all ad-based media, it’s a different story for users. A general perception was that of a necessary evil.

Several commenters noted that internet search engines already chase users with ads based on their searches, sometimes nonsensically. Of respondents, 54 percent said, “no, thank you,” to advertisements based on data mined from their personal media usage; 23 percent were not sure and another 23 percent said, “fine.” 

  1. There’s an inherent creepiness to that type of targeted advertising online.
  2. When I look up an item that I already bought on Amazon, an ad for that item is shown to me repeatedly for the next few days, despite the fact that I already own it and don’t want to buy another.
  3. If this feature can be more clever and thoughtful, it might be useful.
  4. If I am going to get ads, I would much prefer they be for things I am interested in.
  5. Everyone else does that.
  6. Only if user can opt in or out.
  7. I’m concerned about privacy, but there’s a lot of good in tailored, targeted advertising.

Q8: Would you be willing  to buy a set-top box or other hardware peripheral to be able to receive free Next-Gen TV?
Responses indicate a willingness to buy a set-top box or other peripheral to receive Next-Gen TV, though several would like to see it built in to their next smart TV. Of all respondents, 42 percent said they would absolutely be willing to buy a peripheral or set-top receiver; 13 percent were not sure; 17 percent said, “No, thank you;” and 28 percent said it depends on the cost.

  1. I’d prefer to have the tuner built in.
  2. Currently, between my cable set-top box, my blu-ray player, and my OTT boxes, I have no free HDMI inputs available on my main TV. I don’t want have to manage another box.
  3. Depends on cost of the STB and functionality of Next-Gen services.
  4. Sure, but it is getting confusing to have so many ways to receive content.
  5. Most of us already own (or rent) several boxes, and the software implementation on many of them is horrible. It’s going to be difficult to sell us any more.
  6. Don’t mind it but it has to be worth the price.

Q9: How much TV do you watch per day? (Include TVs, tablets, laptops, PCs and smartphones.)
Survey respondents fell roughly in line with the national average for number of hours spent watching TV. Americans watched an average of more than five hours of live and time-shifted TV in first quarter of the year, according to Nielsen’s “Total Audience Report for Q1 2016.” (Here, we asked respondents to lump TV viewing across all devices, while the Nielsen report measures “time spent” per week using devices.)

Of the 49 people who commented, 36 said they watch TV content on TV, reflecting Nielsen’s findings that U.S. householders watched live and recorded TV on a TV set nearly 32 hour a week. By comparison, people watched video on a PC for one hour, 33 minutes a week; and on a smartphone, 23 minutes a week on average.

Of all respondents, 48 percent said they watched between two and five hours a day; 40 percent said two hours or less; and 12 percent said five hours or more.

Q10: Do you work in content creation, app development, media distribution or communications?
This survey solicited responses through personal and brand-related social media platforms with the goal of also reaching a folks who are not involved professionally with broadcast television. 

As indicated here, we asked if they worked in “content creation, app development, media distribution or communications.“ Each of these constitute a wide net, so previous awareness of ATSC 3.0 and its potential features is not assumed. However, it must also be acknowledged that 67 percent of our respondents work in one of the aforementioned categories. Thirty percent said they did not, and three percent said they had no idea.

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