Tag Archives: Streaming

All I have to do is stream…

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Once again, the annual CES trade show in Las Vegas has shown us the future of consumer tech, from TVs to smart fridges, electric cars and even a wi-fi-connected hairbrush.

Some new products may seem like something out of a sci-fi film, such as LG’s PJ9 floating speaker, which hovers above its base station and offers 360-degree omnidirectional sound. However, most were much more down-to-earth, with many brands, including Sony, JVC, Kenwood and Audio-Technica, revealing new products pushing the boundaries of HD audio quality.

For audio giant Sonos, music streaming integration was a major theme. It announced a partnership with Spotify to allow seamless integration between the music streaming service and Sonos’s own app, which will mean users can manage their music without having to switch between apps.

Likewise, Naim’s newest Uniti all-in-one systems featured compatibility with all major streaming services, accessible via the built-in touch-screen. Expect this sort of user-friendly brand integration to be a major theme throughout audio in 2017.

Figures for 2016 show that 11 per cent of the UK population have a Spotify account, (around 5.7 million people), and around 2.6 million UK people have an Apple or Google Music account. The UK streams over a billion audio tracks each week – up 68 per cent year on year and up 500 per cent compared with 2013. Moreover, 45 billion tracks were streamed in 2016 – that’s around 1,500 per household per year – and streaming revenues grew 65 per cent for the top providers.

Total music revenues were up 4.6 per cent despite falling physical music sales and with streaming continuing its meteoric rise, this is good news for retailers stocking premium audio. Further integration between speakers and streaming services is a clear selling point. Use these announcements to highlight this connectivity to customers.

With 52 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds regularly streaming music online, increasing your range to suit different demographics can help to broaden your store’s appeal.

Sony’s upcoming SRS-XB range of Bluetooth speakers are a perfect example. They will appeal to younger audiences, with the two top-end models delivering lighting effects with an LED perimeter line-light, a strobe flash and speaker light that creates multicoloured patterns, ranging from pure white to rainbow, so you can have the lighting synchronise with the music.

This is all controlled through Sony’s SongPal app on your phone or tablet to start music playback, turn the speaker lighting on and off, add a speaker, or link up to 10 speakers. Make sure to utilise the product’s features to create some theatre in-store and attract potential shoppers to the audio area.

 

Smart speakers

The emerging smart speaker category is taking the technology found in smartphones (Siri, Google Assistant, etc) to the next level by adding a personal assistant to your living room or kitchen. Combined with a high-quality, 360-degree speaker, these smart speakers are fast becoming a staple in the audio market. The main players in the category are Amazon with its Alexa assistant, and Google with its Google Home smart speaker. These two are joined by Microsoft, which announced its own speaker featuring its digital assistant Cortana, in partnership with audio brand Harman Kardon.

As personal assistant technology continues to develop, expect the popularity of smart speakers to increase. As brands continue to integrate their services with Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana, consumers will begin to take notice of the real-life benefits of owning a smart speaker.

All these new audio announcements at CES prioritised high-quality audio, giving users the best possible sound. When displaying premium audio products in your store, you may not be able to sell the content, but you can help people experience quality audio.

Set up an area dedicated to premium speakers and headphones. Invest in a Spotify or Google Play Music subscription, allowing your display speakers to stream high-quality audio at the touch of a button. Make sure each speaker has plenty of room around it so as to produce the highest quality sound. And make sure smart speakers are connected to the store wi-fi.

Add-on sales are also achievable in this category through the introduction of wi-fi boosters. The Sonos Boost is a rather clever, powerful signal booster designed to ensure reliability of a Sonos over a large area. Make sure shoppers are aware of these products and potential issues they may face if their wi-fi network isn’t up to scratch. Also think TVs and soundbar options – there are many ways to bring audio into the sales mix. Aim for at least a 25 per cent add-on target with every sale.

Create an immersive experience that allows the shopper to fully utilise the speaker as they would at home. This is the best way to create an emotional, real-life connection.

Ensuring that your staff are trained correctly is also vitally important. With an expert staff member on hand to assist with demonstrations, shoppers can be reassured that the product is right for them and their needs.

 

Read more at: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/all-i-have-to-do-is-stream/

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The ‘C’ word

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Now, your grandmother may not like it, but connected viewing and content are changing the way we watch entertainment, and changing the shape of traditional broadcasting as we know it.

We, as consumers, like to time-shift our TV viewing. No, not like the famous Quantum Leap, but watching what we want when it’s convenient for us to do so.

In May, 13.7 per cent of all TV was watched time-shifted via a catch-up service, up from 6.9 per cent in 2010. This percentage will most certainly continue to grow as more consumers make use of connected services.

With the increase of streaming options and greater bandwidth from our broadband providers, there are many options for consumers to watch their favourite shows that don’t involve a TV, not forgetting very smart services like Freeview Play and Sky Q.

We love streaming on the go and away from the traditional living room setting, with 32 per cent of total viewing time being done through streaming on a device other than a TV. That’s 11,221,204 hours a week in the UK.

We will stream anything it would seem, with four episodes of EastEnders topping a recent catch-up list. What we seem to avoid watching on catch-up and make an effort with is appointment TV, for example live sporting events, which meant sport did not break the top 50 of time-shifted programming. Rather, sports topped the live streaming list, with consumers looking to watch the match with everyone else rather than catch up later.

On top of live streaming and catch-up services, some smart TVs and streaming devices also give easy access to TV and film streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Quality productions such as Orange is the New Black, which costs nearly $4 million an episode to produce, and House of Cards, costing slightly more at $4.5m, have meant that paying to stream is an acceptable proposition. Netflix will spend $5 billion on programming in 2016 – this is on a par with traditional broadcasters such as Fox Networks, and higher than CBS.

Quality, and the ability to be more risqué, is paying off for the non-traditional content producers. They are new, credible and serious players, mixing up the way we consume drama, and now also factual TV.

With Netflix boasting 81 million subscribers in its quarterly earnings report, it’s easy to understand how connected content and the ability to view via multiple devices is again changing the face of broadcasting and how we consume TV. With the BBC license coming in at an exceptionally good value, £145.50 a year, it’s a lot of high-quality media on many platforms to even consider it expensive. But, with Netflix averaging £89.88 and Amazon Prime £79 a year, it’s got tough competition from all angles, Government included.

Grandma might be happy with her old terrestrial channels, but many consumers will be looking to access all this amazing content by upgrading to a new smart TV or other connected device. For your store, connected services are the perfect USP to sell these new products – smart TVs are rapidly becoming the base level for the category, much like HD is now. What’s important is reassuring consumers that these services will enhance their viewing experience, not hinder it with difficult-to-use software or hidden charges.

Have a smart TV set up in your store with a live aerial feed and internet connection ready for your staff to demo. Let interested shoppers interact and play with the TV, letting them explore the features and benefits of streaming and catch-up services, demonstrating their ease of use and accessibility to free terrestrial catch up or paid for content. With GfK estimating that over five million 4K TVs will be sold in the UK by the end of 2017, smart TV is complementing UHD in equal measure.

With demand services making up four per cent of TV viewing for all ages, and more than doubling to 8.7 per cent among the same 16 to 24 age group, it’s understandable that Amazon can afford to spend $4m per episode on The Grand Tour, and Netflix’s market capitalisation is now $42.3 billion.

If you aren’t offering streaming devices and content cards like Google Play, you aren’t giving your customers, of all ages, what they want and are potentially missing out on an opportunity to increase your margin.

 

Read more at: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/the-c-word/

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Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learning how

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This year we can get set for a summer of sport. The Uefa Euro 2016 is up next in June; then it’s the Olympics in Rio in August, punctuated by the annual tournaments such as Wimbledon. So, it’s understandable why so many fans are streaming content via a variety of devices in the home and on the go.

However, sport is not necessarily for all. With the launch of Sky Q, the opportunity for all members of the family to watch what they want, where they want, is an appealing prospect to many. Sky customers already watch 20 per cent of programmes on connected devices – Sky Q and its ‘fluid viewing’ will no doubt appeal to this group and begin to penetrate slowly the 11 million Sky subscribers in the UK.

For those not looking for a contract, there’s always the opportunity that a smart TV – in particular, a Freeview Play-enabled model – offers consumers. Viewing times for Rio 2016 will be unsociable and not necessarily feasible viewing for a wide audience, but catching up over breakfast via an app is an ideal way to keep up to date.

Fans want to see rather than read about those amazing feats that make a major sporting event, such as the Olympics, the spectacle it is, with an estimated 24.2m viewers in the UK and 3.6 billion globally. In 2012, there were 5,600 hours of footage, which aired globally, cross-platform and amassed the equivalent of 801m hours of watched media.

Similarly, the Euro 2012 tournament amassed an average global audience of 150m viewers per match, with 14.2m Brits watching the final.

It’s a fact that 47 per cent of broadband households have a smart TV in the UK and 93 per cent of smart TV owners connect their TVs to the internet (up from 78 per cent in 2013). Furthermore, 37 per cent of TV viewing time on smart TVs is spent watching on-demand content that is only going to grow, as by 2018 it is estimated that 87 per cent of all TVs sold will be smart. Streaming is now the norm and no longer a special feature.

On February 16, BBC Three, the first BBC digital channel, became an online-only channel, provoking a mixed reaction from fans. But is this surprising, when BBC iPlayer saw a 32 per cent year-on-year increase in users using a connected TV to access the service between December 21 and December 31 last year? This is a trend that is set to increase in popularity, making access to iPlayer no longer a luxury, but a necessity through the household TV.

For those avoiding the temptation of making a smart TV purchase or looking to update on a meagre budget, you can do so with a streaming device, such as Google Chromecast, allowing you to stream from your PC, Chromebook or tablet. This allows users to subscribe to Netflix, which now has almost five million recorded subscribers as of December 2015 and cast those box sets, movies, whatever directly to your TV without degrading the quality of picture or sound.

Other devices include the Amazon Fire TV stick and Now TV, with the option to pay for content, as almost 1.7 million people do already in the UK on both platforms. With 4K streaming available from Netflix and BT Sport averaging an extra £4 premium per month to standard HD streaming, competition is becoming fierce, with Amazon and YouTube streaming 4K content at no extra cost.

To some it may seem that content is currently limited, but it is expected to increase, as both studios and platforms commit to a broader 4K offering as an industry standard across streaming services and 4K Blu-ray in 2016.

It is estimated that in 2016 the global share of 4K TVs sold will be 23 per cent, up 35 per cent in the UK as Britons look to future-proof their viewing technology.

With 46 per cent of Brits streaming music, TV or video at least once a week, and online video accounting for 50 per cent of all mobile traffic, it’s no wonder that the popularity of streaming devices is also on the increase.

A UK study released in January identified that seven- to 16-year-olds spend an average of three hours online every day and 2.1 hours of that is watching TV, with 60 per cent watching TV using a device (phone, tablet, or laptop). Of those surveyed, 38 per cent stated that they did most of their viewing on demand.

For retail, there is a huge opportunity to upgrade customers who perhaps have relegated the old LCD to the play room and are looking to go bigger and smarter.

Streaming content is a growth industry and having the freedom to watch when you want is standard, not a luxury. Give customers what they want or haven’t realised they could achieve. Link in-store demos to wi-fi-enabled tablets or similar to bring the concept to life in-situ to complete the customer journey and boost sales.

Read more at: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/lets-go-surfin-now-everybodys-learning-how/

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