The commonly-held assumption is that users will always seek out the "best screen available" when consuming video content. Smart TVs have the largest screens and highest-quality video (in both resolution and latency), and are usually considered the best screen for consumers to watch typical OTT or linear content (as evidenced by nearly 370 million connected smart TV households in 2018). The content available is becoming increasingly diverse (e.g., interactive sports, VR, smart camera footage, video calls etc.) however, and is often well-suited for consumption on non-TV devices. Advancements in non-TV device video technology, the introduction of new screen-based devices (e.g., smart displays, VR), and innovations in content provides consumers with more flexibility, and influences them to increasingly use non-TV devices.
The confluence of high-powered computing, graphics cards, battery-efficiency, and higher-resolution/larger screens has made video performance and functionality across devices (i.e., from mobile through TV) relatively similar. Furthermore, the actual delivery (through Wi-Fi or data) of content is increasingly tailored for each type of device which optimizes video performance. This results in high-quality video becoming a commodity across screens (i.e., no longer exclusive to TVs). New device form factors have also been introduced, increasing the pool of screens available; in Ovum's Digital Consumer Insights 2018: Media and Entertainment survey, 5% of respondents cited their ownership in a new segment: "Smart display with a digital assistant."
Video content is becoming increasingly diverse, and not always best suited for TV viewing. Consumers may find camera-enabled smart displays like Amazon's Echo Show and Google's Nest Hub Max the ideal device to consume room-specific content (e.g., cooking videos in the kitchen), to make video calls, or check in on security webcam footage. Computers, tablets, or smartphones are already heavily used for shorter-form content (e.g., YouTube), but can also provide better, more individualized experiences in the era of interactive long-form content (e.g., Netflix's Bandersnatch, sport), while the 4% of virtual reality (VR) headset owners surveyed will find their device a viable TV alternative to consume certain types of sports content (e.g., NBA in VR).
With the commoditization of video quality across devices, consumers can give more weight to device criteria like convenience (such as portability) or software as non-TV devices often have better interactive capabilities. Furthermore, consumers can place a larger emphasis on the context of the content consumption experience, such as whether it's a shared or individual experience; for example, a VR user may prefer gaming via the VR headset when alone, but prefer using a games console when in company. Some parents prefer that the family engage in a shared content experience (e.g., children's games available on the Echo Show) rather than individualized smartphone gaming.
While TVs will remain the most important screen for home entertainment for the foreseeable future, non-TV devices will often be better suited to consume evolving and new types of content. As non-TV devices continue to provide high-quality video on big-enough screens, they will take a bigger share of the consumer content viewership pie.
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