Analyst: Voice command use grows

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Consumer survey findings from IHS Markit reveal that 22 per cent of Internet users across four markets – the US, UK, Australia and India – use the available voice-command features to operate their TV and video devices, such as smart TVs and set-top boxes. The report – Voice Commands on Video Devices: Content Discovery and Navigation – finds that an additional 30 per cent indicated they did not use voice commands, but are interested in doing so in the future.

According to Fateha Begum, associate director, television media, IHS Markit, the use of voice commands has become increasingly important in the device and entertainment ecosystem, particularly around the home. The use of digital assistants is growing, in terms of reach and usage, as more devices offer a higher degree of interactivity between devices and services. In addition to device manufacturers recognising the importance of voice-command features in building a smart home ecosystem, content providers recognise the importance of voice in the customer experience and in the content discovery process.

Content catalogues are a key reason consumers subscribe and engage with video services, so ensuring the right content makes it to consumer TV screens is increasingly important. Consumers now face a wider choice of content across a variety of devices, including the TV set, thanks to a mix of linear channels, pay TV video-on-demand (VoD) and OTT apps. Easing navigation and improving personalisation are critical ways to increase value to video consumers, so large content catalogues don’t become burdensome to the user experience.

The vast amount of content available across each device puts the user experience at the forefront of device and platform strategies, including discovery, recommendations and navigation. Voice command functionality will be an increasingly important element in content discovery, as it allows users to not only search for content, but also control the video interface in some instances. Consumers already using voice commands on video are more likely to own connected living room devices, which indicates they may already have access to large content libraries across various services and devices.

For device manufacturers voice functionality is a key element in building an ecosystem, particularly within the home. The ability for devices to communicate and control other devices has become evident, as brands are increasingly launching proprietary digital assistants.

For TV providers, innovating in the areas of content discovery and recommendations is a means to ensure their content is easy to find, driving greater value and  ultimately reducing customer churn. Pay-TV operators have an advantage over most OTT streaming services, because they can manage the user experience on the set-top box and can ensure their own content is prioritised on the platform.

Additional findings:

  • Surveyed adults using voice commands to operate video devices are more likely to own, or at least have access to, connected devices that allow access to over-the-top (OTT) video services on the TV screen. These devices include smart TVs, games consoles and media streaming sticks.
  • Usage peaks among 25-to-34 year olds, compared to all adults aged 18 to 64. However, all age groups are key targets for voice-enabled features. Older age groups continue to use traditional methods of content discovery, and many are not engaging with all the features and content available to them
  • Content discovery and navigation is vital for video services as one out of five video cancellations were caused by a perceived lack of available content. The most cited reason for cancellation was the service was “too expensive,” followed by “no longer used the service” and “a lack of content available”.

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