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Why CTV App Design Matters

Building a sound app development strategy well-matched to brand and content is critical to creating a CTV experience that sticks. Nadine Krefetz, Consultant, Reality Software, Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, Ajey Anand, CEO, Norigin Media, Yazmin Wickham, Senior Director of Product, Scripps Networks, Scripps, and Zach Hobbs, SVP of Product, Atmosphere.TV discuss this topic in this clip from their Streaming Media East 2023 panel.

Krefetz begins by saying to Anand, “You and I talked just about half an hour ago about the CTV environment and the fact that it is kind of an emerging environment. Do you want to give me a little bit more insight into why CTV environments and CTV apps are important to companies?”

Anand notes that CTV has been “emerging” for the last ten years, and with a laugh, Krefetz says, “It’s emerging slowly…”

“Yeah, it is,” Anand agrees. “It's rather slow. Smart TVs became popular in 2012, 2013. They were clunky and difficult to navigate, [but] they were connected to the internet, nonetheless. They're [as] relevant and emerging today as mobiles were 15 years ago. App stores are new to Smart TVs. People are finding it difficult to find the app and download it and to navigate applications.” He says that the app discussions today with smart TV manufacturers mirror the app discussions from 15 years ago with mobile device manufacturers such as Nokia and Sony, but he believes that the overall situation is more favorable. “What the Smart TVs have today that the mobiles didn't back in the day is a robust app store,” he says. “Whether it be it Samsung App Store or the Google App Store. These are humongous app stores, which means that consumers will definitely know how to find applications, and it's just as important to be there today, however, niche or not you are.”

“And lest we forget the very large screens that people get to watch on!” Krefetz says. Then she says to Wickham, “You have a large number of CTV apps. Why did Scripps go into that area?”

“Scripps Networks was actually a combination of several different companies,” Wickham says. “Everybody had their own app strategy. So before Scripps News was what they are now, they were Newsy. And so their business model was to get out there and be everywhere.” She mentions that the initial model for Scripps News was to “Just get it out there and get the content and build it. So right now, what we're doing is we are maintaining the legacy of what was before.” However, she says that the sustainability of that approach may not be viable, especially considering the amount of development work required to build and maintain these apps.

Krefetz turns to Hobbs and says, “Now, Atmosphere.TV is a whole different…should we say kettle of fish? What should we say?”

“So we are definitely different,” Hobbs says. “But we create a lot of content, and we've dabbled in FAST, and what we've seen is it doesn't create the stickiness that our CTV experience creates. With the CTV app, you get to customize the experience and really create a stronger relationship with your end customer. But FAST is incredibly tempting because you meet people where they already are. You don't have to go figure out, ‘How do I get distribution? How do I get someone to download the software?’ Or, in our case, we provide a lot of hardware to our customers, so how do we actually get that into their business? So I think…depending on what your situation is, there are really interesting routes to go in both of those directions.”

Krefetz says, “It’s really a core part of your business. So would there have been any other way that you think the business would've structured itself?”

“We get asked,” Hobbs says. “We even ask ourselves. We know that when you open a business, you go to Costco and you buy a smart TV, right? So why not just leverage that already there? And we've tried it, but we've really found having that dedicated app where we can control the experience just creates stickier customers…we've been able to retain customers and keep them on our service longer.”

“Well, that's the name of the game, isn't it?” Krefetz says. To Anand, she says, “You have customers who come to you, and you create CTV apps for them. What are some of the things that you say to a customer who's evaluating whether or not to do that?”

“I find it difficult to tell people whether or not they should do that because it's not my role and responsibility to tell a person as to how deep and penetrated their services should be,” Anand says. “But when they do make a decision whether and how they need to be there, that's where we come in.” He emphasizes that multitudes of approaches can be taken based on the client’s preferences. “You can make it as complicated as you want it to be, and you can make it as simple as you want it to be,” he says. “It's a creative world, which means that [with] user experience design, I tell customers you can spend one month on a design or 17 months on a design, depending on how picky you are and what you want to achieve.”

Anand further elaborates, “Time to market is important, but simplicity as well…it's important to be there and then to grow with [the] experience that you have on there. So the idea is to get on there with the simplest effort, which means that there are templates, there are simple ways to be on the device to see how they work, to see whether Samsung is actually as deep and penetrated as Roku. More important, where consumers actually spend more time on these apps. If you're not on there, you'll never know. And it's relevant not only to the device, but the content that you have on the device and the markets that you are in. And it's a combination of this…one story does not fit all. So we tell people, ‘Tell us how much money you’ve got or time you have, and we'll fit that into your plan depending on how much you want to invest in it because it's a new space for companies. And this means that ROI is limited, and people don't want to invest unless they know that they're getting money back. So that's what we say.”

Learn more about a wide range of streaming industry topics at Streaming Media Connect 2023.

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