Streaming Media

 

LG Makes Connected TV Predictions for CES
Viewers need top premium programming to tune in to connected TVs, and they need to be able to view that content however they want.
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Connected TVs are sure to be major sellers in 2013 and a crucial way that viewers will experience streaming video and audio. At the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, Kurt Hoppe, director of smart TV innovation for LG, sat down for a red carpet interview to explain the three connected TV trends that will emerge at next week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

"So I think at C.E.S. this year as every year there will be a number of very interesting announcements and those are pretty tightly guarded. What I can say in general is we know that when people take a television home, whether it's 42-inches or 60-inches, they want to have an entertaining experience. They do not want to work too hard. So it's not a computer, it's not a tablet. They want to be able to lean back and find the TV show or the content they want to watch in an easy manner," Hoppe said. "So number one, we need connectivity to lots of different types of content. CES announcements about new content partners, some of those may be paid TV providers, some of those may be new over-the-top providers, but having access to lots of content will be certainly one of the themes."

While content announcements will be huge, controlling that content and accessing it from any device will also be crucial.

"Being able to control in a simple way your user experience, that's something that LG has a magic remote control we call it and you can point to content on the screen, you have a scroll wheel, you have voice recognition, so again we're trying to give a number of options to the consumer so they can easily and intuitively find their content," Hoppe said. "Finally, I think you'll see a theme of connectivity, so the Smart TV to other devices in the home. We mentioned tablets, and smartphones already, but certainly being able to stream content from one room to another whether it's originating on a PC or perhaps even a set-top box."

To hear more about LG's connected TV efforts, watch the full video below.

Troy: Hi everyone, this is Troy Dreier, Senior Associate Editor for streamingmedia.com coming to you from the red carpet at Streaming Media West in Los Angeles. We're continuing our conversation with industry leaders. I'm here with Kurt Hoppe who is with LG and we are talking about Smart TVs. Kurt, introduce yourself to our viewers.

Kurt: Thanks, Troy. My name is Kurt Hoppe. I'm the Director of Smart TV Innovation at LG Electronics so I've got a team that's focused on technology innovation as well as innovation in business model so who we work with to bring services to the television.

Troy: Now Smart TVs is a fascinating area to look at. It's so new, but we don't really know what people want or what format it will ultimately take which I think makes it very interesting to look at and to talk about. What features are people using in Smart TVs right now?

Kurt: That's a good question, Troy. So LG Electronics launched our Smart TV about 18 months ago in about a third of our product lineup and we found last year that consumers were coming into their favorite retailer and looking to purchase for the nice thin new energy efficient television and they're looking for a new flavor of 3D and really connected TVs or Smart TVs last year was third on their list. What we've seen this year is that that the awareness, the consumer awareness is much higher. Six out of ten consumers say their next television will be a Smart TV. And really they are familiar with the over-the-top services is some of the main services they're looking for such as a Netflix or a Hulu-Plus especially when they want to put that in their second or third room in the home.

Troy: Now we've all heard the statistic, it's probably a year old or more at this point but people who buy Smart TVs aren't actually hooking them up to their wireless connection at home. They're not actually Net-enabling them. Is that true anymore? Are people going online with them?

Kurt: One of the amazing statistics is that connectivity rates are very high. We learned with our Blu-ray players a few years ago that if we needed the consumer to figure out how to get an Ethernet cable or some kind of wired connection to their device that was pretty difficult. So we started last year with our first Smart TVs putting Wi-Fi either embedded in the television or as a dongle in the box, and this year in 2012 we embedded Wi-Fi in all of the TVs and we see a connect rate north of three-quarters even over eighty percent. So awareness and the simplicity of the connectivity, over 80 percent are being connected.

Troy: Fantastic, that's very high. How do you track usage and how much activity are you tracking with your owners?

Kurt: So that's a good question, Troy. Again privacy is very important to LG as it is to the whole community so when there's an optional registration process when the consumer activates their television and they can opt in or opt out of different features. We don't track personal content or usage but on an aggregate level every LG Smart TV like any of these connected devices out there do talk to some billing systems or some kind of systems in the cloud so we can say oh the most commonly used application is this application. But we don't know what Joe Smith, we don't know or track what Joe Smith is doing.

Troy: People creating Smart TV or second screen apps, it always seems like they're emphasizing social features and personally I can't imagine something I'd like less than letting all my friends know hey, I'm watching this right now. Are social features big? Are people actually using them?

Kurt: Social features I think there's two answers to that question. So certainly a younger demographic tends to have this desire to publically tell their friends what they are doing at every minute of the day which is fine. Some of the older demographic doesn't have that same interest or maybe their lives are just not as exciting. But we do include options like Twitter and Facebook on the television itself so you can tweet that you're watching a certain show or make a comment, you know, if you like it or don't like it. What we think does make more sense rather than doing it on the television itself is to use a second screen so more than 50 percent of the people watching a Smart TV have a smartphone in their pocket or might have a tablet in their lap. So certainly that device can talk to an LG TV. We do have technical interfaces that allow applications to talk to the television and we think that makes more sense so from their tablet to send out a tweet but the younger people are interested in that.

Troy: Oh, I mean the older demographic, that's painful. So you work in Smart TV Innovation and maybe you could tell us what's coming down the road. Where are Smart TVs going?

Kurt: So I think at C.E.S. this year as every year there will be a number of very interesting announcements and those are pretty tightly guarded. What I can say in general is we know that when people take a television home whether it's 42 inches or 60 inches they want to have an entertaining experience. They do not want to work too hard so it's not a computer, it's not a tablet, they want to be able to lean back and find the TV show or the content they want to watch in an easy manner. So number one we need connectivity to lots of different types of content. CSE announcements about new content partners, some of those may be paid TV providers, some of those may be new over the top providers but having access to lots of content will be certainly one of the themes. But being able to control in a simple way your user experience, that's something that LG has a magic remote control we call it and you can point to content on the screen, you have a scroll wheel, you have voice recognition, so again we're trying to give a number of options to the consumer so they can easily and intuitively find their content. And then finally I think you'll see a theme of connectivity, so the Smart TV to other devices in the home. We mentioned tablets, and smartphones already, but certainly being able to stream content from one room to another whether it's originating on a PC or perhaps even a set top box.

Troy: So we've got more choices. We've got easier setup and use. And we've got easy connectivity with mobile devices. That sounds like a pretty good roadmap.

Kurt: We're pretty proud of our roadmap and then you layer on top of that more of the traditional television innovation such as OLED which was a big winner last year so these organic LED televisions that are four millimeters thick, that's very popular with consumers. Again a little bit new, and price premium for that, but you'll also see ultrahigh definition television or 4K coming so that's four times the resolution of Blu-ray so that's pretty interesting coming in the next few years.

Troy: Really? So will 4K be coming at the high price point or will it be at a regular price point in the next few years?

Kurt: We announced it last year at C.E.S. It's on sale now. It's outside the price range of most consumers but that price as always in consumer electronics over the next two to three to five years, that will drop down to a middle class affordable price range.

Troy: Fantastic. Well thank you so much for joining me, Kurt. I appreciate it. This is Troy Dreier coming to you from the red carpet.

 

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