Something we need to consider as we move into an age where technology keeps getting better—especially when it comes to viewing video content in more and more places—is that user experience needs to be emphasized much more. This is especially vital for senior citizens or those who might not be as technologically inclined.
This is an important consideration and should not be brushed aside. You can have the most amazing new OLED TV, but how you interact with it to get the content you need must be enjoyable and easy to master—I know from experience.
There are big questions we need to start asking in the age where streaming services, streaming players and cable TV and satellite services often all go into one TV—and the confusion that can cause. The days where all the content you wanted to watch was just on cable are over. For example: How accessible is the content you want to view? How hard or easy is it to find what you are looking for? What are the steps you need to go through to watch that new episode of the Baby Yoda Show, ummm, I mean The Mandalorian? How do you access that latest movie that is just on Netflix? Where is that Amazon Prime App? How do I switch over to watch Fox News or CNN?
For many, that seems silly and second nature, but not all of us can whip through the screens and steps necessary to watch what we want. And with so many ways to find, view and interact with content—and how many places you could get that content—it can get a little confusing and frustrating.
All of these questions and concerns seem silly to a certain point, right? Well, for those of us well versed in zooming through the various apps, screens, inputs or devices trying to find what you want to watch—and when you want to watch—is just as routine as brushing your teeth. But imagine a senior who has had cable their whole life, who is just getting used to a smart TV, and wants to load apps, subscribe to streaming services getting overwhelmed. This can certainly happen if someone is used to a unified platform like cable.
Here is where cable TV providers like Fios and Xfinity do have a small, but important advantage. It might seem like a moot point, but being a cable subscriber in the days before streaming means you had all of your pay-tv-content in one place. You did not need to change inputs, playing with a lot of menus, or going between different screens to get content. Essentially, you have one platform or tv-viewing ecosystem that you stick with. For a senior or someone who is not entirely comfortable with technology, that could be the difference in cable retaining a customer or not.
Could this be a limiting factor for the growth of streaming services, especially as the days of easy growth start to fade? Tough to know for sure, but it is something to consider. And if I was still in the cable industry, I would start thinking about it. Fios, for example, has Netflix built into some of its equipment, which might seem well, strange, but they are keeping you in the same platform, making your experience seamless. Smart idea, no pun intended.
Harry J. Kazianis is a Senior Director at the Center for the National Interest and Executive Editor of their publishing arm, the National Interest. His work and ideas have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, USA Today, The Week, The Hill, the American Conservative and many other outlets across the political spectrum. Harry enjoys writing about technology issues and products from a real-world perspective, having previously worked in the telecommunications industry from 2000-2011. You can follow him (or yell at him) on Twitter: @Grecianformula.