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What's Up With App Fatigue?

Susan Crouse

Over time, pay-TV has gathered a plethora of channels that satisfy a varied set of customers. However, the conundrum proven through data has shown that any one individual household generally watches only about 20 of those channels. This has been the motivation behind the quest for small bundles. Cable and satellite TV providers are now exploring how to address the consumer's desires by developing apps, some of which allow for smaller channel bundles, that will run on commercial retail hardware.

Apps are the "channels" of next-generation television environments. Unfortunately, apps have a similar construct as channels. In a recent study, Forrester Research Inc. reported that consumers now spend 85% of their smartphone time engaged in apps, but spend the vast majority of that time -- 84% -- in just five apps, while other studies have reported abandonment rates as high as 90% for downloaded apps.

While building apps seems to be the solution of choice for content and service providers, the reality is that apps are generating more clutter and making it hard to find content of interest expediently. In an environment in which a) every content provider has their own app and b) the same content can be found on multiple services, apps are proving to be a barrier to ease of use, not a solution.

No wonder consumers are getting "app fatigue." Opening and closing apps in search of content has become as tedious as scrolling through the traditional grid guide. Looking for a specific episode of The Blacklist? Finding the episode you want to see might be a ten-minute process of searching through five or six different apps or services. We are right back where we started: Viewers are spending more time looking for what they want than watching the desired programming.

The problem will be compounded in an IoT world. App growth will continue as apps for home security, appliance and system controls and more will provide operations for automation. Got milk? Even in a high-tech app world, a good old-fashioned peek in the refrigerator may remain the fastest way to answer the question.

All of us have apps we use regularly: Facebook, preferred airlines and hotel chains, sports scores and your favorite trending game. But with seemingly every website prompting you to download its own app, there is a thicket of apps on most of our devices. What’s needed is a way to cut through those that remain to optimize their functionality.

Where pay-TV can differentiate itself is in helping customers find needles in haystacks. As the primary service provider in most households, the operator is positioned to consolidate content metadata, personal information and established subscriber preferences to streamline search, discovery and recommendations.

Using the set-top box as the gateway to the home, operators can deploy next-generation solutions that can contextualize viewers' TV experiences to deliver comprehensive views across multiple channels, SVOD apps and subscribers’ personal libraries.

In the same way, operators will be able to leverage WiFi-enabled next-generation STBs as hubs that collect data from connected devices in the home. Rather than sifting through a basket of apps for each controllable service, subscribers will be able to manage all of their home services on the television or from their handheld devices through a visual application that provides integration and access for a variety of services.

When Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) created the App Store eight years ago, there were 552 apps available for download. Since then, more than 2 million apps have become available for IOS alone and the total downloads have surpassed 130 billion. For cable, the secret to building more value is not by delivering more, but by helping subscribers find the cure as app fatigue sets in.

— Susan Crouse,, Director, Product Management, Alticast

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User Rank: Light Sabre
8/22/2016 | 12:33:55 PM
Re: Wrong model
Some good points are made here. 

Discovery of content is still really important. Why? Well, if we don't find what we really want, we waste a lot of time. Think about the number of times you've started watching something only to realize it's simply not for your. Happens to me all the time, and I don't think anyone has figured this out quite yet. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/22/2016 | 6:30:25 AM
Wrong model
Imagine having each book publisher have its own bookstore. You have to drive from one to the other to see what they have - and remember where the content you want is. Crazy, right? That's why we have book stores. They all have more or less the same content, but they package that content into a store experience. Interestingly, that's the way pirate sites operate as well; same content, unique experience.

The app concept is great for software, but wrong for movies and TV.

While other industries are moving to site branding (store branding), the movie and TV industries are trying to isolate their content from all similar content, like a child at lunch. "I can't eat that! The peas are touching the carrots!"

It won't end well.
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