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Years later, connected TV finally comes into focus​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​

John McGee


Media & Marketing

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Sky Glass could mean satellite dishes may become a thing of the past

Sky Glass could mean satellite dishes may become a thing of the past

Sky Glass could mean satellite dishes may become a thing of the past

The recent announcement that Sky is to roll out a new product called Sky Glass to Irish customers in 2022, marks yet another milestone on what has been a long and winding road for the advocates of connected TV, or CTV as it is known in an industry that loves its acronyms.

The idea of connected TV has been around a long time, and at various stages along the way the tech evangelists and vendors have heralded its imminent arrival as revolutionary. In reality, CTV has probably had more false dawns than the English football team and its experience has been more evolutionary than revolutionary.

In the case of Sky, which is owned by US broadcasting giant Comcast, customers will now be able to access Sky’s traditional satellite TV channels via one of several smart ‘glass’ TV units it will be flogging to customers as part of the service. But there won’t be any ugly satellite dishes on the outside wall or clunky set-top boxes hogging space on the TV stand. The service is delivered online in the same way that Netflix, Prime or Disney+ is to your TV.

What constitutes CTV has been open to interpretation for some time and this is, perhaps, one of several reasons why it has been slow to evolve. In its purest form, CTV is essentially any TV that can be connected to the internet so users can watch a wide range of broadcast services on that device whether it is Netflix, Amazon Prime, the RTÉ Player, NOW TV, Discovery+ or All4.

With an estimated 1.7bn people around the world now using CTV, the tipping point has clearly been passed but it is still not quite there yet.

While the growth of CTV has been facilitated by better and smarter technology, demand is also being fuelled by a rapid growth in the number of so-called cord-cutters around the world. Eschewing expensive cable and satellite plans that often come bundled with 800 channels most of which they will never watch – these cord-cutters have been turning to CTV in their droves, a trend that accelerated during the recent lockdowns.

In Europe, for example, the total number of pay TV subscribers is set to fall by 4 million to 103 million between 2021 and 2026.

So, at some stage in the future will we all be watching TV over the internet whether it’s on our phones, tablets or smart TVs?

“Absolutely,” says Dave Fogarty, digital investment director with marketing communications company Core. But whether it’s a smart TV or a TV that has an Apple TV box hooked up to it doesn’t really matter, he says. “These are just delivery methods,” he adds.

“TVs are getting bigger, smarter and the quality is improving. The large TV screen will remain the mainstay of entertainment in households for years to come. What will be crucial is the user interface and experience the manufacturer or pay TV providers deliver to your TV. This is the ‘gateway’ to what you watch – channel listings, programme guides, recommendations, video-on-demand apps, whether they are ad-funded or subscription-funded. Whoever controls this space will actually control a lot of what people watch,” Fogarty says.

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The flow of advertising revenues is likely to have a major impact on the success or otherwise of CTV in the future. At the moment, there is a sense in the wider marketplace that it’s still all to play for. But that may soon change.

“The effect on advertising is really the big question here. Potentially the subscription services may move to a hybrid ad-funded model like HBO Max in the USA and start taking advertising in the future,” says Fogarty. This will almost certainly see money being diverted from traditional broadcasters like RTÉ into these channels, he adds.

“One prospect, which hasn’t really happened yet In Ireland, could be that manufacturers like Samsung start to sell advertising,” he says. “I assume this is one of the main reasons why Sky has gotten into the hardware space with its Sky Glass.”

In the past, CTV’s forecasted growth might have been a tad optimistic but then again TV’s obituary has been written and published many times yet it is still with us. If there is one certainty, however, it’s that the future of TV is, well, TV, but maybe not as we know it.

Brill are big winners

The Brill Building, the agency founded two years ago by Roisin Keown, was the big winner at the 2021 APMC Star Awards which took place this week.

The agency’s campaign, ‘The Shop that Nearly Wasn’t’, for Breakthrough Cancer Research picked up the Grand Prix as well as three other category awards.

Other winners on the night included Publicis Dublin, Verve, Goosebump, thinkblink, V360 and Pluto.

AIB’s digital push

With digital banking becoming increasingly popular and banks trying to encourage customers to use their digital services, AIB has launched a new campaign to promote its digital solutions. Created by Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive, the new campaign is running across TV, radio, video-on-demand, outdoor, digital and AIB’s social channels. In creating the campaign, Rothco also collaborated with Spanish director Nono Ayuso and Antidote Films.


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