With a summer of sport on the way, Gekko managing director Daniel Todaro says retailers should make the most of the opportunities to sell smart TVs and other devices that help consumers stream the content they want wherever they happen to be
This year we can get set for a summer of sport. The Uefa Euro 2016 is up next in June; then it’s the Olympics in Rio in August, punctuated by the annual tournaments such as Wimbledon. So, it’s understandable why so many fans are streaming content via a variety of devices in the home and on the go.
However, sport is not necessarily for all. With the launch of Sky Q, the opportunity for all members of the family to watch what they want, where they want, is an appealing prospect to many. Sky customers already watch 20 per cent of programmes on connected devices – Sky Q and its ‘fluid viewing’ will no doubt appeal to this group and begin to penetrate slowly the 11 million Sky subscribers in the UK.
For those not looking for a contract, there’s always the opportunity that a smart TV – in particular, a Freeview Play-enabled model – offers consumers. Viewing times for Rio 2016 will be unsociable and not necessarily feasible viewing for a wide audience, but catching up over breakfast via an app is an ideal way to keep up to date.
Fans want to see rather than read about those amazing feats that make a major sporting event, such as the Olympics, the spectacle it is, with an estimated 24.2m viewers in the UK and 3.6 billion globally. In 2012, there were 5,600 hours of footage, which aired globally, cross-platform and amassed the equivalent of 801m hours of watched media.
Similarly, the Euro 2012 tournament amassed an average global audience of 150m viewers per match, with 14.2m Brits watching the final.
It’s a fact that 47 per cent of broadband households have a smart TV in the UK and 93 per cent of smart TV owners connect their TVs to the internet (up from 78 per cent in 2013). Furthermore, 37 per cent of TV viewing time on smart TVs is spent watching on-demand content that is only going to grow, as by 2018 it is estimated that 87 per cent of all TVs sold will be smart. Streaming is now the norm and no longer a special feature.
On February 16, BBC Three, the first BBC digital channel, became an online-only channel, provoking a mixed reaction from fans. But is this surprising, when BBC iPlayer saw a 32 per cent year-on-year increase in users using a connected TV to access the service between December 21 and December 31 last year? This is a trend that is set to increase in popularity, making access to iPlayer no longer a luxury, but a necessity through the household TV.
For those avoiding the temptation of making a smart TV purchase or looking to update on a meagre budget, you can do so with a streaming device, such as Google Chromecast, allowing you to stream from your PC, Chromebook or tablet. This allows users to subscribe to Netflix, which now has almost five million recorded subscribers as of December 2015 and cast those box sets, movies, whatever directly to your TV without degrading the quality of picture or sound.
Other devices include the Amazon Fire TV stick and Now TV, with the option to pay for content, as almost 1.7 million people do already in the UK on both platforms. With 4K streaming available from Netflix and BT Sport averaging an extra £4 premium per month to standard HD streaming, competition is becoming fierce, with Amazon and YouTube streaming 4K content at no extra cost.
To some it may seem that content is currently limited, but it is expected to increase, as both studios and platforms commit to a broader 4K offering as an industry standard across streaming services and 4K Blu-ray in 2016.
It is estimated that in 2016 the global share of 4K TVs sold will be 23 per cent, up 35 per cent in the UK as Britons look to future-proof their viewing technology.
With 46 per cent of Brits streaming music, TV or video at least once a week, and online video accounting for 50 per cent of all mobile traffic, it’s no wonder that the popularity of streaming devices is also on the increase.
A UK study released in January identified that seven- to 16-year-olds spend an average of three hours online every day and 2.1 hours of that is watching TV, with 60 per cent watching TV using a device (phone, tablet, or laptop). Of those surveyed, 38 per cent stated that they did most of their viewing on demand.
For retail, there is a huge opportunity to upgrade customers who perhaps have relegated the old LCD to the play room and are looking to go bigger and smarter.
Streaming content is a growth industry and having the freedom to watch when you want is standard, not a luxury. Give customers what they want or haven’t realised they could achieve. Link in-store demos to wi-fi-enabled tablets or similar to bring the concept to life in-situ to complete the customer journey and boost sales.
• See our Summer of Sport May special issue of ERT magazine