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How to Deliver a More Lean-Forward TV Viewing Experience Online

Learn more about the streaming TV user experience at Streaming Media East 2022.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Ryan Ford: When you're on a lean-back type of experience, CTV, it's probably in a family room or family setting. There is that moment where the user might be several users who are all trying to agree on what to watch tonight. And so the amount of content that you display to them is gonna probably need to differ. And the type of content may actually need to differ as well in that lean-back experience versus mobile, which is again, like others have said, a more personal device. And so the amount of content and the way you display that content may be much more tailored to the user. But something that I don't think any of us have covered is the actual expectations that users have from the interfaces that they're interacting with--mobile, tablet, web, television. We'll interact with these tools in different manners, using different different methodologies. On web, we generally are using a trackpad, or a mouse cursor. On mobile and tablet, we're using our fingers.

And then on TV, of course, we're using a very limited experience, except for in some cases where manufacturers have attempted to turn the remote into a mouse cursor--and don't get me started on that. But we, as users--and I think we should all think of ourselves as users, as well as builders--have expectations of what we're gonna get when we hover or select a card or a title in a list. What's gonna be on the other side of that? What's gonna happen when we tap on it? Will it start playing the content? Will we be able to learn more? And I think that most platforms have tried to do a pretty good job in respecting users' expectations around how they interact with these with the content in these different environments.

But the web, I think, has largely been an afterthought for a lot of people. Most of the web streaming experiences that I've come upon from all of the top players have largely been like a web-based version of a tablet player, which I think on one hand is very efficient. It's very cost-efficient to just kind of recycle an interface you've already made. But at the same time, I think that we are as an industry, not going above and beyond to leverage some of the unique capabilities of all of these different platforms and building something that is really above and beyond or extra delightful in the context of that platform.

So, going back to web, there's so much exciting stuff that we could be doing on the web that I think we, as an industry, are not yet doing. We have tended to focus a lot of our energy on TV and mobile and tablet. Those are very popular devices. And especially during the pandemic, we've seen this incredible growth of of native CTV usage in streaming where meanwhile, set-top boxes and smart TV devices like the Apple TV or even PlayStation have, generally speaking, declined in usage. So a lot more people are coming to TVs. Itmakes sense to focus on TVs. But shouldn't we, can't we do something more interesting on the web?

Thomas Wadsworth: I think Ryan is an interesting point where, four years ago, if I was looking at web, you're kind of looking at it as, when is this gonna die? When do I not have to worry about this anymore? But with the pandemic coming in, I think a lot of there's a lot more usage on web, people are probably watching TV while they're in conferences or while they're on meetings. It's a reality. And so there should be something in which the web is an easier platform to make updates and something that everyone owns. You know, I think to Ryan's point, when you're looking at mobile and you're looking at living room, it's mainly chasing dollars in that sense, to be able to put together a design where we feel that that's gonna be able to grab the most attention and engagement. But I think web is now at least where we're setting loose our sites, in some ways can there be more innovation on web and not necessarily on Android.

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