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The agency is clear in the fact that they do believe that Smart TV is inevitable, but they wanted to explore how well Connected or Smart TV is making its transition into living rooms:
While we are confident that the evolution of the TV is set towards its “smartification”, we wanted to learn more about how people different from us watch television, how new technologies might change their routines, and what barriers lie on the way of the “connected TV” technology’s mainstream adoption. None of the devices are advertised as cable replacements, and we didn’t set out to test their effectivenss as such. We decided to take the experiment to its extreme and disconnect cable boxes to bring out issues that would’ve remained under the surface had we let the devices co-exist with the families’ existing TV set-ups.
About 60 families volunteered to take part in the study and five were picked for each device. Notably, there were some issues which do need to be addressed in this new world of On Demand and choice:
As with “the paradox of choice” phenomenon that describes how broadening the range of options leads to a decrease in overall consumption, we saw how families gave up on watching TV altogether when they couldn’t decide what it is that they wanted to watch. This problem is serious enough for Netflix to award a million-dollar prize for a better way to tell people what they should watch next; it didn’t seem the problem was sufficiently addressed by any of the devices.
But it was not all negative:
Finally, the devices seemed perfectly suited for certain modes of TV consumption — viewing the high-consideration content I mentioned above, on occasions when it was available — but much less so for others. The two families with children found the devices didn’t fit how they watched TV at all, which seems like an interesting market opportunity to explore.
And with this introduction, here’s the video. I also invite you to watch the panel’s reactions and the ensuing discussion. We will also publish our findings about the availability of content across video services and devices. Follow us on Twitter and we’ll alert you when they are up.
Gizmodo also covered the study here.