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Engaged and Mobile: Charting the Shifting TV Viewing Landscape
At the TV of Tomorrow conference, panelists took stock of the changing ways viewers get their media, and noted that not all changes are for the better.

"TV watching has changed. In this age of distraction…there are many things that are going to pull you away from the screen," said Dan Schiffman, CRO for TVision Insights, speaking at today's TV of Tomorrow conference in New York City. Viewing habits have changed dramatically over the past few years and will continue to do so, and predicting how those changes would impact both the industry and society was one purpose of the event.

The day started with a session on measurement. Schiffman's company measures the difference between engaged and distracted viewers, showing how engaged viewers are far more likely to respond to the ads they see. Panelist Stuart Schwartzapfel, CSO for Canvs, measures emotional reactions to TV shows expressed on social platforms. He presented original research illustrating how a strong emotional response correlates with higher ratings the following week.

Over half of U.S. homes with WiFi-connectivity—58 percent—have an over-the-top (OTT) device they use at least monthly, said Aaron Fetters, SVP for national agencies and CPG business at ComScore.

Later in the day, a session looked at the rise in OTT services and the challenges they face. When asked what the next big thing in OTT will be, panelists gave a variety of answers—server-side ad insertion, machine learning, better content security, lowered barriers of entry for channel creators—which will all change the industry and all at the same time.

While some people feel there are too many subscription services to choose from already, Kathleen Barrett, general manager of OTT for Vimeo, isn't among them. Her company is focused on subscriptions, and she believes in a hybrid model that combines free and paid viewing options. Distributing through YouTube doesn't offer creators any control, she noted, while entry-level SVOD tools lets creators build a monetization model without the need to provide scale. A hybrid model transitions fans of the free videos to a paid plan, helping convert viewers and increasing average revenue per user (ARPU), she said.

It took an audience questioner to bring up net neutrality, a political flashpoint none of the panelists seemed to relish discussing. The end of net neutrality could be especially harmful to smaller creators, noted Ari Evans, CEO of Maestro, as it could lead to larger barriers to entry. It could also be a problem for distributors, noted Dan Finch, CCO for Simplestream. His company regularly provides bandwidth service level agreements (SLAs) to clients. Without an open internet, it will be impossible to meet those agreements since some passageways could become high-priced bottlenecks.

The TV industry is facing a lot of changes, and as these panelists showed, not all of them are for the better.

Hardys Eggum of Synacor and Barry Tishgart of BAMTech Media speaking at the TV of Tomorrow 2017 NYC show.

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