2014 was the year when more connected devices were shipped than ever before and consumers actively embraced the changing landscape by demonstrating their new consumption habits.
Aneesh Rajaram, senior vice-president for TV & Devices at Opera Software, shares his top predictions for trends to watch in the connected TV space this year.
1. 2016, not 2015, is the year for 4K. However, 4K will become a mid-tier feature for smart TVs, with providers of over-the-top content set to compete to serve that content.
On the supply side, while all major TV manufacturers are set to ship 4K TVs in 2015, this will make up just a small subset of their larger TV portfolio. Demand is not quite there, as viewers are not solely accessing content from smart TVs, but also from set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and other devices.
The first to capitalise on 4K content will be IP-delivered content through premium producers such as Netflix and Amazon. Broadcasters will primarily focus on their own ecosystems and provide trials in 2015, so won’t produce 4K content in significant volumes.
There will certainly be more UHD content on offer in 2015 than this year, but still a very limited amount. While 4K will be a selling point for consumers buying TVs, there are too many roadblocks to it fully taking off in 2015.
2. HTML5 will stay far ahead of Android, with HTML5 capability set to account for nearly 100 per cent of smart TV volumes.
Looking at the market globally, multiple operating systems will ship on smart TVs in 2015 – and Android will account for only a small percentage of that total. In fact, Web OS will probably be larger, and Linux certainly the largest.
Moreover, all smart TVs will support HTML5, regardless of whether they are Android, Web OS or Linux. Only a few of the top ten TV manufacturers in the world will ship significant volumes of Android-based TVs in 2015.
3. The quantity of premium OTT content will triple, driven by ease for broadcasters, multi-channel networks and brands to embrace smart TV.
There are two factors here: first, the increased production of content. There is more online content being created now than ever before, due to easily available HD production equipment (leading to lower production costs), online video platforms and multi-channel networks reaching scale, and more know-how among publishers about how to produce and market content online.
Second is the ease of deployment to smart TV. Opera Software and others in the industry are making it easier for over-the-top content to come to TVs, thanks to technologies such as Opera TV Snap. As this content reaches greater audiences, publishers will have greater incentive to produce it, and we’ll also see more – and local – content coming to living rooms in more countries.
4. The affordability of smart TV devices will drive an increase in OTT audiences.
From our close work with silicon vendors, we know it is now possible to run smart TV experiences for all kinds of low-end connected devices that were previously incapable of doing so. With this lower threshold, web and OTT functionality has tipped over from being a minor part of manufacturers’ device volumes to being the majority. Basic devices bringing on board these enhancements also means it is now more affordable for consumers to purchase TV devices with web and OTT functionalities. We will particularly see uptake in emerging markets where broadband penetration has increased, and where availability of content and interest in connected TV devices are taking off.