surprised woman watching tv

A Smart TV Just Might Be Too Smart

“We are going out with a show people will never forget.” – J. Daniel Atlas, “Now You See Me 2,” Summit Entertainment, 2016

Source – “Now You See Me 2” Summit Entertainment

A couple of weeks ago, a friend texted us for a recommendation on a new washing machine. His had finally died after 20++ years and he wanted to replace it with another that would handle the task … wash his laundry.

That was it!

Didn’t need to keep him from being lonely by spouting inspirational sayings, didn’t need to peek in the refrigerator to see if had food for dinner, didn’t need to find out from his home entertainment system what was going to be on that evening, didn’t need to check in with the factory to tell them how much it liked its now home.

Nope … just wash laundry.

Ah, if home entertainment could be that simple, that satisfying. 

In deference to our “a movie has to be seen in a theater at least first” friends; yes, there is something about seeing a tentpole on the huge screen, with surround/immersive sound, stale/expensive popcorn and 100 or so perfect strangers; but getting dressed up, going there, paying for everything is a pain.

But honestly, we do enjoy them – or a substitute – as much on our own big screen with fresh popcorn and people we know/like.

Watching unique content at home streamed on a really big screen has become a habit that’s hard to break.

Source – Daily Telegram

Endless Choices – The biggest benefit/problem today is that services – subscription, ad-supported, fast – provide huge libraries of viewing/entertainment options.  All you have to do is pick just one.

One flick vs. a gazillion movies/shows for every mood, every taste is tough to pass up–especially after shedding a ridiculously expensive pay TV bundle of content you could only watch when they thought the time was right.

Of course, to enjoy it you need the newest, biggest, best screen (and audio system) you can afford.

In addition, folks today want them easy to connect, easy to use.

According to Strategy Analytics and other industry trackers, that’s a smart TV. 

Source – StrategyAnalytics

Smart Growth – Smart TVs took a sizable leap this year to 74 percent of US households with similar growth in other areas of the globe.  Their growth is riding the wave of popularity of streaming media.  The all-in-one devices are clearly appealing to consumers everywhere.

Globally, Smart TVs racked up an estimated $257B last year and are projected to reach more than $379+B by 2028. 

According to the marketers and people who track that kind of stuff, the smart TV is the next-generation home entertainment device that will have it all in one neat package – great GUI (graphical user interface), fast/easy connection to your home fiber or wireless devices, able to deliver on-demand content and eliminate the need for a separate set-top box.

It’s so good you can even use it for zoom calls, video chat, activate it by voice commands/requests and more. 

Total Expansion – The large screens with simplified integration and use are extremely attractive to people as opposed to connected boxes and dongles, despite some of the “issues.” 

It’s little wonder that Hub Research reported that 77 percent of today’s US households now own a smart TV and nearly two-thirds of all TVs sold are smart TVs.

We’re not exactly sure why homes have multiple sets (1.7 per home), but that’s what Hub reported.

We keep peace in the household by “enjoying” whatever she wants or barter.

Our kids, like most younger generation people, are constantly on their own screens.

They seem to be more than satisfied in using their computers or smartphones and multitask while being entertained because FOMO reigns supreme for people who were born connected.

Global Shares – Sales of large smart screens continue to show healthy growth in APAC and Americas regions with slower adoption in other areas.

The big screen is great for “older” folks – Millennials and above because entertainment is more of a sedentary thing.   Sit in front of the set for several hours watch stuff, turn it off and go to bed or move on to some real work.

Kids go back and forth with their entertainment, online activities, social media (including a lot of TikTok video content) and what the heck, throw in a game or two.

While the industry has shifted to streaming platforms, Parks Research noted that 40 percent of the viewing time is spent on a smartphone, computer and/or tablet. 

They also reported that 90 percent of Gen X and Gen Z users in Europe and the Americas watch videos daily on their smartphones and they expect this viewing behavior will continue to grow.

This increased smartphone viewing is one of the key reasons tech-centric streamers like Netflix, Apple and Prime have reformatted much of their content so it is viewable both horizontally and vertically.

For us though, we chose an LG 55-in 4K OLED smart screen and Atmos surround sound system as our go-to streaming entertainment solution. 

As someone said, Atmos is like 4K for your ears.

When we bought the screen, the salesperson was really convincing – a little naive/trusting in our opinion – but convincing.

“This is one of the most advanced connected TVs available,” he said.  “Just connect to the fiber to your home or Wi-Fi and you’re ready to sit back and enjoy breathtaking shows and movies.  The set manages everything for you.   No added dongle/attachment or anything to mess with …  just connect and enjoy.”

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As my daddy used to say, when something sounds too good to be true … it is!

Those plug, play and enjoy sets have a few drawbacks. 

We still remember back in 2017 when the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) fined Vizio $17M for tracking viewer information without their approval.

Of course, today if some company isn’t tracking, monetizing your information you feel … ignored.

Who can forget the endless lawsuits/decisions against Facebook (Meta) over the years.

We’re pretty certain smart TV and home device manufacturers across the board have only gotten better at convincing households that opting in and letting them assist them and manage their data to improve their entertainment viewing enjoyment has only gotten better.

They have.

Of course, our big screen manufacturer made a decent profit on the screen they sold us (they racked up 20.4T KRW, $15+B, first quarter of the year) but screens and hardware are becoming almost incidental.

CEO William Cho said mid-year that they’re going to be a smart life solution company using a platform-based service model.

Translation? They collect a huge amount of data from your use of the set and more. 

That data is worth a helluva lot to them now and in the future. 

Your data is a regular revenue stream they use and “occasionally” sell as a commodity to 2nd, 3rd parties…

For example, LG has said they don’t want to simply sell you your expensive smart screen, they want to become your full-fledged media and entertainment service. 

You know, deliver your ad-supported Netflix, Prime, Disney+, Pluto, Tubi and other services as well as take their cut of the ad revenues.

In addition, Cho said they plan to use the TV division to spearhead the company’s smart life initiative – everything in your smart home – kitchen, lights, temperature, inside/outside surveillance/monitoring and more.

Proprietary vs. Open – While smart TVs promote easy installation and easy entertainment selection, many of them are new “solutions” and are proprietary to a specific manufacture.

Of course, it will all be built around their so-so Web OS, keeping you in their environment for as long as possible.

Yes, there are more seasoned/tested open streaming content operating systems like Apple TV, Android, Roku and others you can use with the screen by disabling Web OS and using one that you’re more comfortable with and yeah, one that’s easier to use.

But that sorta defeats their vision of tomorrow …  a little off the top of each ad that passes over their home connection to your screen.

Taking a page from your old pay TV provider, they also plan to throw in their own ads for all of the really great smart home appliances/devices.

They want you to remember they’re in the business of selling you stuff.

Pimping their own stuff won’t cost them much and what’s a few more ads on your screen?

But Pluto TV co-founder Ilya Pozin took a different and pretty wild approach to video entertainment and ad delivery when he announced his new company a few months ago called Telly.

Source – Telly

Upfront Venture – It will be interesting to see if the new firm, Telly, can supply free sets and keep up with demand.  The second screen on the bottom of the entertainment screen streams ads and the company is offering the set – with some restrictions – to consumers at no cost.

Initially, they’re offering 500,000 55-in 4K sets free to folks with the understanding that you’ll also see ads and that advertisers would ultimately be paying for the set(s).

Brilliant …  they become your go-to entertainment center, you pay whatever the going rate is for your streaming service so you can enjoy your content; and your added cost is zip, zero, nada except for watching the ads that appear on the unit’s second screen, not interrupting your show/movie.

It’s all above board.

We told a friend down in southern CA about the announcement and he couldn’t fill out and submit his agreement fast enough.

He’s one of those absolute streaming geniuses.

He regularly signs up for special limited-time streaming deals, watches all the stuff he wants to see, opts out before the full subscription fee kicks in and moves on to the next special offer.

Timing is everything.

He’s not really an ad fan like we are but …

Same streaming service, support for his video games, voice assistant, music services, fitness programs, free ads, free smart TV … he’ll make an exception!

He’s now waiting to see if he made the cut for the first shipment of 4K screens that go out or if he’ll have to wait.

But we both agree that Pozin has been honest from the outset and is “paying” folks for their personal/family viewing data.

The deal didn’t appeal to us, and we already had the new 4K OLED screen.

However, neither did the idea of letting them gather all of our search/viewing data and then pitch us about their other great smart products on the screen we paid for.

Screen manufacturers are supposed to use that data to troubleshoot and improve their device’s software.

Specially designed/proven internet connected devices like those from Google, Roku, Amazon and Apple have been around for some time.

They have experience in simplifying the connection process, managing your streaming services and protecting your set/home data from malicious software and hackers. 

Sure, they use that data to recommend movies/shows their AI-enabled software “thinks” you’ll enjoy but increasingly, they’re also using it to help advertisers improve their messages and their delivery of ads you will consider or at least not hate. 

We turned all the smart stuff off that was on our set and added a Roku 4K streaming stick. 

It puts all of the subscription and free streaming services in one location to find something to watch rather than hopping from app to app (silo to silo).  They finally added Dolby Vision, which is a welcome addition, has a good interface and works perfectly with JustWatch, our free streaming guide.

Consumer-Proven – Some consumers want the size and viewing quality of the newer sets but prefer to use more robust consumer-tested connection devices like the Roku stick in combination with free viewer guides and selection applications like JustWatch.

Sure, out-of-the-box smart TV home entertainment would be the easiest route but when someone says we’ve added a camera and mike on your screen, and we “might” use it, it just doesn’t give us warm, fuzzy feeling. 

We just think it’s safer to have people involved who understand the value of our personal data, want to deliver shows/movies you want to view and focus on offering us – and advertisers – a mutually beneficial relationship.

That’s a lot better than our TV saying “Hey, have you seen our new smart refrigerator or stove or…”

Connected TVs are easy to install and use.

Priorities – Consumers are not only rapidly moving to streaming video services but they are also expecting more features with the screen they watch them on.

There are a lot of things to consider before you buy and their user interface should be as good as the one on your computer, smartphone, or dedicated streaming device.

In addition, look behind the UI and make certain it has robust security and delivery protection built in.

Yeah, our kids call us a little old-fashioned, but we want a big screen TV that gives us the best, brightest movie/show/game viewing possible rather than slick stuff that could bite us in the behind.

All those slick Smart TV features sound appealing but when Now You See Me 2’s Thaddeus Bradley say, “Pay no attention to the curtain,” sorry … we’ve gotta look.

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