Apps transformed the way people access the internet, and they are about to transform television. The new Apple TV, launched last year, will bring iOS apps to connected televisions for the first time, sparking a revolution that will evolve how people engage with content.
Over-the-top is toppling cable
Cord-cutters and cord-nevers are on the rise. According to a recent Forrester study, 20 percent of adults over age 32 don't have cable -- but that number rises to 35 percent for those under 32. While the pace may be debatable, the fact that cable households are declining is not. By 2025, only half of adults under 32 will have cable, according to the Forrester study.
At the same time, over-the-top (OTT) device makers, such as Roku and Apple, are moving millions of units. Apple has sold 20 million Apple TV units, while Roku has sold 10 million devices and Amazon has sold 5 million Fire TV's to date. With the ascendance of Netflix and new standalone subscription products from HBO and Showtime, we're in the early stages of subscription video-on-demand services (SVOD).
While SVOD services will drive more interest in over-the-top devices, the real game-changer will be the arrival of tvOS from Apple. An app store on television will bring an intuitive experience into millions of homes that has been lacking since the medium was created. Hundreds of millions of consumers already spend hours a day accessing the internet through native apps on their desktop and mobile devices. That instant, one-click experience will soon extend from the smallest screen in the house to the biggest. For the first time, the social universe of Snapchat, Meerkat, and Periscope may be readily available on television sets -- along with games that have millions of fans, like Angry Birds and Candy Crush.
That is no small feat. For years, cable companies have saddled their customers with giant remotes, unnecessary buttons, and clunky, poorly designed interfaces that don't integrate web functionality. Intuitive UX and instant access to quality content will transform the television experience.
With great content comes lousy advertising
Every major advancement in digital media has given Madison Avenue more room to deliver annoying, irrelevant messages. Advertising supports free content, and it has funded innumerable innovations. None of us, however, want to see banners, weight loss and skin cream plugs, or bikini-sporting clickbait boxes running across our televisions.
The ad tech community must carefully consider how advertising fits into the TV app experience. Connected TV will enable new methods of cross-screen targeting, and advertisers must deploy that strategically. They must resist the urge to interrupt and repurpose old content, and use this new medium to deliver timely, relevant messages in formats that fit the experience.
Convergence is already here
As apps conquer our TVs, we're finally seeing the full convergence of digital media and television. Networks and content owners can now use apps to reach audiences everywhere and anywhere. Apple demonstrated Crossy Road in their product launch; soon, app developers will be launching their apps on all platforms at the same time. Madison Avenue must rise to the challenge to ensure that these new, intuitive experiences are supported by advertising that's just as powerful.
Mitchell Reichgut is CEO at Jun Group.
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