Content Discovery, Home Fitness, and the Rise of the Connected TV

With so many new services launched in the past couple of years, CES 2022 hasn’t had any big announcements about streaming players or services. Still, as more users cut cable and began streaming during the pandemic, it inspired manufacturers to refine the connected TV experience. Smart TV operating systems are getting updates to more easily access what we are watching on multiple apps. Many of us opted to work out at home, creating a massive demand for streaming fitness apps.

In a Zoom call with Vikrant Mathur, co-founder of the Future Today streaming video platform, he spoke about how the pandemic changed streaming from an occasional experience to a full-time household habit. Viewers began trying smaller niche channels and apps. This trend is good for Mathur’s company that offers streaming services like Lego Channel, Fawesome free movies, and Happy Kid.

Mathur recounted that his child has no concept of traditional linear TV schedules. “My kids think it’s an alien concept to wait for 7 o’clock when Mickey Mouse comes on.”

“Paramount Plus and Peacock are growing the space,” Mathur told me, “It’s an exciting time. It reminds me of the days when cable TV launched, and you could now have 100 channels instead of four.” As the streaming space matures, a consolidation of apps is taking place. CBS acquired Pluto TV, and Fox bought Tubi.

It’s important to note that he is not talking about mobile or desktop streaming when Mathur is discussing streaming (that he feels has been popular for many years now). Mathur is referring to the Over The Top (OTT) streaming experience to a big screen “Connected TV” (CTV).

In the opening talk, “CES 2022 Tech Trends to Watch,” Steve Koenig, Vice President of Research for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA, who puts on CES), reported that the average consumer subscribes to eight streaming services. The number goes up to 20 services for Millennials and younger generations. During the pandemic, 47% of U.S. households added streaming services, and 57% of them plan on continuing to use those services as the world returns to normal.

TV manufacturers have taken note of the increased popularity of multiple service subscriptions. TCL, LG, Hisense, and Samsung have updated their smart TV’s operating systems to display the shows you have been watching for easy access from the Smart TV home screen.

Hisense’s Vidaa operating system allows for multiple profiles, and its home screen includes content and recommendations tailored to the viewing habits of each profile. LG’s Web OS 22 has likewise added user profiles with personal preferences and content recommendations.

Samsung revealed its revamped Tizen OS home screen where users can browse and access a “continue watching” list of content from any provider.

This home screen is similar to the Apple TV+ app and the new Google TV operating systems. TCL, Hisense, and Sony announced that they would be releasing more TVs that use the Google TV OS. Hisense and TCL will continue to offer new Roku TV models as well.

In advance of CES, Roku announced that it had expanded its Roku certification program. New Roku TV Ready partners include Element, JVC, Pheanoo, and Phillips, with Polk Audio and Westinghouse being added in early 2022. TV Manufacturers are looking beyond entertainment in their streaming video offerings as they announced new and improved fitness apps for Smart TVs. The new fitness experience goes far beyond dancing around to a Jane Fonda workout video.

Samsung released the Smart Trainer last year. Logitech cameras could be connected to 2021 Neo QLED and QLED TVs for users to see and record themselves alongside the fitness training video. Samsung’s fitness app goes a step further to record stats for users who pair a Samsung Galaxy watch.

Other companies are following suit. TCL announced their Health Hub that includes various fitness content from yoga and strength training to cardio. A user can fill out an onscreen questionnaire to get an exercise schedule that can include everything from intense muscle training to easy stretching. Like Samsung, TCL offers the option to view your workout side-by-side, or Picture-in-Picture to compare your form to that of the coach in the video.

LG is partnering with Peloton in their fitness app that will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to recommend a fitness plan to users.

LG has a few more new features in Web OS 22. Room to Room Share allows users to share content from one LG OLED TV to another in your home. NFC Magic Tap lets you quickly mirror your phone to the TV with a quick tap of the phone to screen.

Lastly, Samsung has added a few more streaming apps to their Smart TVs. Watch Together opens up a chat to discuss a movie or TV show with others as you view it in your separate homes. Samsung is also joining the NFT revolution with an app that features an “intuitive, integrated platform for discovering, purchasing, trading, digital artwork” that can be viewed on the TV. The NFT platform is available on Micro LED, Neo QLED, and the Frame TV models.