Goodbye, TV Channels — And Hello, TV Apps

How a small change in language represents a universal shift in the television experience.


When I was a kid, my brother graciously taught me what a half-Nelson was. It was a lesson learned from our nightly wrestling matches over the remote control, which was essentially the scepter in our little game of thrones. I suppose that made our old tube TV the Lee family version of Westeros.

Part sport, part habit, fighting over a remote was a clear by-product of the way people watched television. Entertainment moved in only one direction, as anything flowing down through channels tends to do. So whoever controlled those lanes had all the power.

But television is evolving. Increasingly, it’s all about the apps now—browsable, downloadable, interactive TV applications. You can thank the swelling ranks of streaming services and devices for that.

The software applications they’re delivering to our living rooms are growing in number and prominence. And they’re starting to eclipse the passive, one-way broadcasts we once fought over for two-way, interactive experiences that let you share democratically among multiple users (née viewers) across mobile devices and computers.

It’s about time.

Changing Channels

We were long overdue for a change. In essence, television hasn’t changed for more than half a century. TV channels have always been pipelines for broadcasters to transmit programming along particular frequencies or bands in different regions. But as analog signals moved to digital, and those signals flowed through cable and satellite as well as the airwaves, channels remained channels.

Back in the 1990s, WebTV made an unconvincing argument for adding Internet TV to your living room like another channel, sort of. It was an idea before its time. But it succeeded in doing one thing: It seeded a notion that eventually grew up and became today’s app-fueled living room.

According to research firm NPD Group, the smart television business has begun to boom. In the beginning of 2013, there were 140 million Internet-ready TVs in American homes. By 2015, it will grow 44 percent, to 202 million. And by that time, nearly two-thirds of them will actually be connected to the Internet, compared to just 56 percent now.

How they connect is important. When it comes to television, “apps” are where it’s at, not ye olde “TV channels.” It’s just a shift in language, true—but it’s also a shift in thinking. Watching TV used to mean sitting back and absorbing whatever broadcasters—and later, cable or satellite providers—would deign to send through those pipes. It’s a passive experience, one that spawned mindless channel surfing and vegging out in front of the TV.

Thanks to smart TVs, streaming boxes and cheap TV sticks, users don’t have to sit around and wait for cable packages to update with new stations. We seek out and download apps. We browse, search or hit our playlists, so we can stream.

And we don’t just change channels anymore. We cast videos and songs, or switch apps, from one to another—bouncing between online videos, music, games, photos and home movies.

That’s not to say that there’s no place in this brave new world of television for passive viewing. Personally, as a long-time couch potato, I think tuning in (or, maybe, tuning out) has its place, and binge watching is certainly an acceptable substitute. But it may not look exactly the same for everyone. For instance, companies like startup QPlay—from the founders of TiVo—are working on merging passive viewing with streaming. Their premise: creating always-on “playlists” of online entertainment.

The Rise Of The Machines

Roku may be the only popular streaming TV box or stick that still calls its offerings “channels.” But make no mistake—they’re really apps. You download them. You can sync them. You can control them from your phone or, in some cases, cast them. (Users can fling YouTube, Netflix and PlayOn videos from their mobile devices to the TV.) You can even play Angry Birds on a Roku box.

Apps have become a major selling point—or its opposite—for streaming TV devices. When Google’s Chromecast came out last summer, only its ridiculously cheap $35 price tag could overcome its severely limited selection—just four apps at launch. Amazon’s Fire TV debuted last month with more choices. But its highly promoted voice search is drawing criticism for practically nonexistent support from non-Amazon apps (though that will change eventually).

As for smart TVs, the approaches vary widely. But since TV channels are pretty much the same, manufacturers can only differentiate their products by their hardware and apps. Some, like Roku’s upcoming Roku TV, will use proprietary platforms, while others, like Panasonic, use more open platforms, such as Firefox OS.

These products and platforms just scratch the surface. Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku top bestseller lists for streaming devices, along with Apple TV, whose maker finallystopped treating the box as a hobbyafter selling 20 million units for $1 billion last year. They’re joined by innumerable other TV dongles and gadgets, as well as full-fledged smart televisions from the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony, Vizio, HCL and others.

Clearly, there are numerous ways to stream to our living rooms now. And all that is powered by apps.

As if that weren’t enough, we may see another new contender before long: Google is rumored to be working on another streaming product, likely a new take on Android TV. No one knows precisely what that will be yet, but we’re pretty confident that apps will take center stage. Hopefully we’ll know more when ReadWrite goes to the Google I/O conference next month.

Streaming Apps And TV Networks: “I Wanna Be Like You!”

As for the app developers themselves, they’re stepping up to become bigger players in the TV industry in their own right.

Original content is like the new black, with Netflix’s Emmy award-winning series House of Cards grabbing the public’s attention, as well as hit Orange Is The New Black. Amazon has also been hotly pursuing original programming with a slew of shows, while Hulu trotted out original programs in its very own “Upfronts”—an event usually hosted by TV networks to parade new programming and celebrities in front of advertisers.

As streaming companies mimic the TV and cable networks, the latter have been working on their streaming offerings—from local apps like KTVU (which is the only way I get my local news these days; I never watch the TV broadcast) to online video from major cable channels like HBO.

The Game of Thrones purveyor has become such a breakout TV-to-streaming crossover hit that Amazon Fire TV’s omission of HBO GO marred its product launch. (Take a deep breath, Fire TV hopefuls: Turns out, Amazon will at least offer some “older” HBO programming via its Prime Instant Video subscription. The HBO GO app will reportedly follow later this year.)

Even cable and satellite operators—which were an online holdout for a long time—are now rushing to stream so they can complement, even save, their on-demand, pay TV services.

The Longshot: A Merging Of The Two?

It’s hard to talk about broadcast channels and streaming without bringing up Aereo.

The startup may have the ultimate solution for bringing these two content pipes together—that is, if it can prove that its model of grabbing over-the-air signals via tiny individual antennas and streaming them to users over the Internet is legal. If Aereo wins its Supreme Court case, it would be a rather huge blow to broadcasters, which charge cable and other TV providers to carry their stations.

TV channels could have an unlikely savior in Netflix as well. The streaming giant struck deals with a handful of cable providers to add its online video service to their set-top boxes, as part of their guides and channel lineups. The idea is to let users channel surf their way in without going into a menu to launch an app or switching inputs on their TVs. If others follow suit, it could re-position the software into streaming app channels, effectively blending the two.

And maybe that’s the best scenario, because it could preserve some measure of passive viewing while making streaming apps more convenient. On the other hand, the prospect of adding even more channels to the hundreds of standard ones could be the worst idea in the world. What’s crazy is that, on average, people only tend to watch 17 of the 189 channels available to them as it is.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty over how all this will shake out. After decades of stasis, television is suddenly a rapidly evolving space—fueled as much by ambition as advances in hardware and software. But through it all, one thing seems certain: The TV channel, as we know it, is destined to change.

Flickr images by users Robert S. Donovan (feature image), Sarah Reid (vintage TV) and Omar Bárcena (broadcast tower); Samsung smart TV and Amazon Fire TV images courtesy of respective companies; Kevin Spacey/House of Cardsimage courtesy of Netflix; streaming boxes image by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite.

by  May 09, 2014



 May 09, 2014


Appetite For Smart TV Grows

A new U.S. study into the impact of Smart TV advertising and consumer behavior, by YuMe and LG Electronics, to better understand how consumers are engaging with ads within Smart TVs, includes data on the Smart TV audience’s behavioral, lifestyle and psychographic profile. With global Smart TV shipments reaching 12.7 million units in the first quarter of 2013, the appetite for Internet-connected TV is growing among consumers, creating a thriving platform for brand advertisers, says the report.

The study examined consumers within a natural living room environment, interacting with and sharing their perceptions of different Smart TV ad formats, while testing brand metrics including recall, favorability, and purchase intent. 67% of respondents indicate that they have engaged, or would consider engaging with, a Smart TV ad because it advertises products/brands they are interested in.

Youngjae Seo, Vice President of Smart Business Center at LG Electronics, says “Smart TV… a unique and exciting opportunity for consumers to interact and respond directly to an ad in-screen… brand advertisers find better ad campaign effectiveness and ROI on Smart TVs… accompanied with traditional TV…”

Big screen convenience is the most common primary advantage, say the respondents.

Advantage of Smart TV AD
Benefit % of Respondents
Big screen more convenient to watch


Large variety of different types of ads


Can purchase the product right away


More trustworthy


More informative


Ads are intriguing and interactive


Ad format is innovative and interesting


Source: YuMe/Nielsen, August 2013

Picture in picture ads on SmartTV leads to increase in most campaign metrics.

Key Campaign Metrics
  (Positive Response; % of Respondents)
Measurement Traditional TV SmartTV
General recall



Brand recall



Message recall



Ad likeability



Purchase intent






Source: YuMe/Nielsen, August 2013

The Smart TV is being used for more than just TV. Many users report high app usage and 17% are likely to decrease or cancel their cable subscription in the upcoming year, a 13% increase from last year.

Features Used At Least Once A Week
Feature % of Respondents
Watching free Internet video content


Browsing the Internet


Watching paid Internet video content


Connecting to social network service


Use application


Playing online games


Downloading application


Using video telephone (Skype)


Source: YuMe/Nielsen, August 2013

90% of Smart TV owners are satisfied with their devices and 81% prefer using a Smart TV over a traditional TV set. 63% would like a 2nd Smart TV for bedroom.

Viewers of Smart TVs are generally young, higher income professionals. Smart TV users are tech savvy, professionals with an influential role on household purchase decisions. They are also likely to pay a premium for the latest technology and brand names.

Respondent Profile

  • 42% under 40 years old
  • 35% over $120K HH Income
  • Most Smart TV households are multiple person dwellings
  • Smart TV purchasers have high purchase decision responsibility within their household
  • 78% are Married or Living with partner


Age            % of Respondents

  • 25-29     15%
  • 30-34     14
  • 35-39     13
  • 40-44     12
  • 45-49     12
  • 50-54     12
  • 55-59     13
  • 60-64     10

Source: Source: YuMe/Nielsen, August 2013

The report indicates that users of Smart TVs can be categorized in four distinct user segments, finding that affluent technologists and social youngsters were most receptive to Smart TV advertising. The four segments are described as:

  • Affluent technologists
  • Social youngsters
  • Traditionalists
  • Mid-life families

Segmentation Overview

Affluent Techie (22 %)

  • Enthusiastic about new technology and entertainment
  • Willing to pay more money on new products and technology
  • Younger and well educated
  • Higher household income
  • Have strong responsibility for supporting family
  • Make good use of Smart TV features and react actively towards Smart TV ads
  • Have purchased products advertised

Social youngster (25 %)

  • Interested in new technology and entertainment
  • Regard social bonding important and use social network service frequently
  • Younger and well educated
  • Medium household income
  • Sometimes use Smart TV features
  • Accept Smart TV ads by searching more info. of the products advertised

Traditionalist (19 %)

  • Don’t have a lot of interest in technology
  • Less focus on family and social network
  • Don’t want to pay much additional money for new products
  • Older and lower household income
  • Sometimes watch TV alone
  • Use Smart TV like traditional TV (concentrate more on only TV, don’t use Smart features often)
  • Rarely click on Smart TV ads

Family oriented midlife (35 %)

  • My family is always first
  • Don’t have a lot of knowledge in technology
  • Purchase goods for family
  • Practical in spending
  • Older and highest household income
  • Spend more time watching TV and satisfied with current TV
  • Don’t use Smart TV features skillfully
  • Rarely click on Smart TV ads

Michael Hudes, Executive Vice President of Emerging Markets, YuMe, says “… results… affirm a growing Smart TV market… opportunity for advertisers to increase brand engagement through Smart TV… understanding how people engage with Smart TVs… “

For additional key findings from the YuMe-LG study, as well as methodology and a copy of the full report, please visit here.

by , Yesterday, 17 September

Smart TV – Smart experiences!

Um novo território a ser conquistado.

Smart TV – Smart experiences!

O mercado das novas tecnologias tem registado nos últimos anos uma grande evolução, quer do ponto de vista da própria tecnologia em si, quer na forma como os utilizadores experimentam novas sensações e emoções que levam a novos desenvolvimentos, melhorias e a uma constante geração de valor.

Este facto sente-se sobretudo ao nível dos smartphones e tablets, com uma predominância para a solidificação de conceito emergente de equipamentos “smart” – equipamentos multifuncionais capazes de melhorar a nossa experiência no dia-a-dia, aliando os fatores mais utilitários da vida pessoal do utilizador à vertente profissional e do entretenimento. Desde ouvir música, à visualização do e-mail, passando pela gestão de tarefas do dia-a-dia, trabalho e cooperação em redes de trabalho, acesso a noticias, leitura de livros, aceder a redes sociais, ver filmes e uma vasta oferta de diferentes tipos de jogos, tudo é acessível e assente num conceito de APP – aplicações que agregam em si as diversas ações possíveis que o utilizador pode aceder comodamente a partir do seu equipamento.

Todo este campo experiencial acabou por sedimentar a ideia de que para tudo pode haver uma APP, ou que há uma APP para tudo e mais alguma coisa, à distância de um click na palma da nossa mão, justificando cada vez mais esta tendência de SMART Users, que usam equipamentos SMART num novo estilo de vida também SMART.

Este processo acaba por alavancar outras áreas das indústrias criativas que encontram assim várias oportunidades de desenvolver conteúdos SMART, para os diferentes tipos de equipamento, assente numa visão abrangente de desenvolver conteúdos de uma forma integrada, para estar disponível e ajustado a vários equipamentos, sob o conceito a que também se pode chamar SMART Media.

A televisão, a caixa que mudou o mundo, continua a surpreender numa altura em que muitos já haviam ditado a extinção da sua relevância, aliando-se a esta tendência SMART, seguindo as boas práticas e o sucesso de outras áreas, procurando o seu espaço e criar o mesmo tipo de ligação afetiva, utilitária e de entretenimento com os utilizadores, permitindo até, muitas vezes, ser uma extensão de todos os outros equipamentos que o utilizador já usa, como é o caso do Smartphone e tablet.

Embora as SMART TV’s, não tenham a mobilidade que os smartphones e tablets têm, estas permitem outros tipos de experiência complementar proporcionada através de um ecrã maior com uma maior profundidade sensorial e um tipo de relacionamento com o equipamento mais prolongado, bem como a visualização de outro tipo de conteúdos, potencialmente mais ricos.

Aqui também o processo de interatividade é um campo cada vez mais aberto de possibilidades, onde o simples manuseamento de um telecomando pode ser substituído por comandos de voz ou gestos, permitindo explorar outros campos sensoriais do utilizador e ao mesmo tempo, abrir outras áreas de interesse de cariz mais utilitário e de companhia num espaço mais intimista, familiar e privado como é a nossa casa.

Mais do que a atividade de desenvolver aplicações, é importante pensar numa lógica de gerar valor, gerar relacionamento e adoção por parte do público e dos utilizadores, e de criar um compromisso entre o conteúdo e o seu lado prático e utilitário, para assim lhes disponibilizar informação, conhecimento e entretenimento através de um equipamento que há muito tempo faz já parte dos lares.

Com o elevado incremento das possibilidades interativas que a SMART TV disponibiliza é também crucial a análise e estudo sobre a usabilidade de cada aplicação, tendo em conta o público-alvo, os seus hábitos e estilos de vida, os seus comportamentos, identificando também eventuais limitações que possam existir.

No entanto, embora as questões tecnológicas, o lado inovador de interação e a respetiva usabilidade aplicacional sejam muito importantes, o conteúdo em si continua a ser o mais relevante e é isso que move os utilizadores para dentro da SMART TV e para dentro das aplicações. Existem inúmeras aplicações tecnologicamente perfeitas e do ponto de vista de usabilidade bem desenvolvidas, mas que nunca viram a luz do sucesso, entenda-se, grande adesão por parte do público, devido aos fracos conteúdos. Tal como no revés da medalha, existem inúmeras aplicações com um conteúdo relevante e interessante, mas cuja usabilidade e funcionalidade aplicacional compromete a experiência de consumo do conteúdo.

É por isso importante balancear bem as questões de desenvolvimento tecnológico da aplicação, apostar numa boa usabilidade e facilidade de utilização e num conteúdo relevante para os utilizadores, e procurar evitar o erro de ter demasiado texto, que obrigue o utilizador a uma leitura demorada, afinal, perante uma televisão, espera-se uma experiência televisiva, com conteúdos de imagem em movimento, com conteúdos multimédia.

Não se pode esperar que o utilizador de SMART TV procure o mesmo tipo de experiência de navegação e de utilização de um smartphone ou de um tablet, como por exemplo navegar na internet, aceder a redes sociais ou a outro tipo de conteúdos tradicionalmente acedidos por um PC. Embora em alguns casos possa até ser semelhante, a experiência de utilização da SMART TV, a relação com o conteúdo é à partida diferente e deve-se entender como um elemento complementar à experiência dos outros equipamentos, procurando até a sua integração e explorando o conceito da existência de um segundo ecrã com o intuito de intensificar e melhorar a experiência global.

Desenvolver aplicações para SMART TV é assim um desafio multidisciplinar, onde temos a necessidade de unir várias valências que vão desde a programação, passando pelo design e estudo de usabilidade e pela produção ou agregação de conteúdos segmentados, objetivos e devidamente selecionados para os públicos-alvo, dando a opção ao utilizador de controlar a forma como e quando quer visualizar o conteúdo.

Ao contrário do que acontecia há alguns anos, as pessoas paravam apenas perante a televisão, ouviam pontualmente rádio e liam jornais para se manterem informados, ou para meramente disfrutarem de momentos de ócio, recorrendo a conteúdos que aí eram disponibilizados. Com o aumento e dispersão de novos meios, assim como a dispersão da atenção por parte dos públicos, é necessário ganhar novamente terreno no relacionamento com o público, o que significa em si um novo desafio e um novo trabalho de marketing em identificar e segmentar novos territórios, próximos de uma nova geração de SMART Users, que necessitam de ser conquistados.

Mário Cardoso
CICANT – Centro de Investigação em Comunicação Aplicada, Cultura e Novas Tecnologias
Centre for Research in Applied Communication, Culture and New Technologies

Professor / Researcher

Grupo Lusófona

Desenvolvimento de seu projeto Transmedia não precisa ser um Mamute

Published March 12, 2013

Nuno Bernardo: Developing your Transmedia project needn’t be a mammoth task!

Don’t try and build the Louvre from the outset, says beActive’s Bernardo: focus on your Mona Lisa first…


Nuno Bernardo

In the last couple of years, I’ve been invited to judge a few transmedia pitch competitions and awards ceremonies for upcoming or already-developed projects. But something that is becoming more and more common in the hundreds of proposals I’ve been reading is that there’s this tendency of using a checklist-based multi-platform approach to justify that the project is transmedia. The majority of the presentations list the usual Facebook fan page, the Twitter account, the app, the fake website for the bad corporation that is featured in the story, and many other common content pieces that we already saw too many times before.

Just because everyone else seems to be doing that, doesn’t mean that your story needs it! The transmedia approach needs to be organic to the story you want to tell. Recently, I used the Mona Lisa metaphor to explain this problem when talking to one producer. It’s a fact that a big percentage of visitors of the Louvre go to the museum to see the famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting and only visit the corridors from the main entrance to the Mona Lisa room and back. But the Louvre has many other corridors and exhibition rooms that are not that popular: they are only seen by a small portion of the museum visitors.

My advice to that producer, at the time, was: focus on your Mona Lisa, the core story, characters and elements of your project, and the “corridors” that lead to that core element. Don’t try to set up the full Louvre with its dozens of rooms and corridors, especially if your resources are limited. Down the line, if you succeed with your initial approach, you will be able to add another room or another corridor.

Since 2012 we’ve been producing and releasing our most recent series, Beat Girl (below). And we started small, developing a Pinterest profile because the story was aimed at the core audience of this new social media network and was very image-oriented. From there, organically we expanded to a novel, so we could extend the images with words and partnered with Wattpad to release to a wider audience (again, they already had a young female audience on their website).


Using audience feedback and testing, we then defined a more comprehensive multi-platform strategy that included a TV Show, a Web series, a feature film, a game and more complete social media presence, always with the story and the lead character at the center. The movie version is hitting European theatres on May 10 and we recently partnered with ELECTUS (Ben Silverman’s company) to develop a US NETWORK TV Version of Beat Girl for the North-American market.

MIPTV is arriving and if you want to use this market to get partners on-board of your new project, I suggest you focus on the core elements of any successful Transmedia (or entertainment) project: story/format and audience engagement. And if you are pitching it to someone, whatever in an open pitching session at MIPCube or in a one-to-one meeting, I suggest that you try to know the answers for some of the questions below.

1. Pitch the core story or format (if non-scripted): What is this about? What happens in the story, what is the theme and why does the story need to be told? Also focus on what is new and different in your project if the story is similar to an already-existing TV series or movie.

2. Pitch the characters: in my opinion, the characters are key in transmedia projects as they are the ones that host the experience for the audience in the different platforms and connect all the elements. Who’s guiding us in this experience and how will this person (or group of people) engage an audience? How the audience will relate to the lead character?

3. Why do you think people will connect with the story and the experience? Is it funny? Is it entertaining? Is the audience helping a cause? Are they helping and rooting for lead character to achieve his/her goal? Is there a prize involved? What the audience will win if they enter this transmedia experience?

4. What is the Transmedia plan: list the platforms to be used, put them in a timeline (where the experience starts and ends) and how audience and story crosses to other platforms? What comes first? Where is the story heading?

5. For each platform, more than listing the features of the website, game, facebook page, etc., it’s important to give an explanation of why the project needs that platform to engage the audience. Is it to create engagement, build a community, generate revenues or market the experience?


A good trick to help producers to focus on the core and the strengths of the project and how it will be presented to an audience is to design a banner or create a fake Google Ad to promote the project. This will make producers think on how to seduce the target audience using a one-sentence pitch of the project. If you can’t grab people’s attention and curiosity with one sentence and/or one image it will be difficult, later, to conquer the always-busy on-line audiences.


Nuno Bernardo is the founder and CEO of TV, film and transmedia production company beActive. He is also the author of a book, The Producer’s Guide to Transmedia. Find him on Twitter and Facebook.


Lucien Engelen: Crowdsource your health

Lucien Engelen: Crowdsource your health

You can use your smartphone to find a local ATM, but what if you need a defibrillator? At TEDxMaastricht, Lucien Engelen shows us online innovations that are changing the way we save lives, including a crowdsourced map of local defibrillators.

Lucien Engelen is a technologist and innovator who is working to put patients into the healthcare team

Cynthia Schneider: Reality Shows – Globalização e Glocalização de conceitos de sucesso

Cynthia Schneider analisa dois programas internacionais – Reality Shows – estilo de “American Idol” — um no Afeganistão e um nos Emirados Árabes Unidos — e mostra o efeito surpreendente que estas competições em reality shows estão criando nestas sociedades.

Globalização e “Glocalização” de modelos de negócios de sucesso, com a preocupação de adequar convenientemente o conceito a cada tipo de público.