How To Create And Launch Successful TV Applications

Define strategies and objectives

It might be an obvious first step, but I have seen many cases of companies rushing into the TV apps business without a clear strategy and without defining clear objectives and goals. Firstly, you need to decide whether the application should generate revenues or whether it should be launched for branding or loyalty reasons. It is very difficult to create an application that fulfils both objectives and I normally recommend focussing on one or the other. Secondly, decide on the target audience and the use case. Remember that the TV is a social, media consumption device in the living room and not a personal device with communication features like a tablet or a phone. Thirdly, once you have decided on objectives and target group, you are ready to define the functionality. Once you have the use case sorted out it is often easy to list and prioritize the relevant features.


Less is more

The most common mistake when creating TV apps is to start from what is available and port everything to TV. Most TV apps are based on existing apps or services on mobile or PCs, and the logical decision seems to be to try to take advantage of as much of the previous investments as possible. However, the TV does not bring the same interaction possibilities as other devices. A PC web site can easily have more than 100 interaction points and a modern mobile touch device have the benefit of intuitive a quick scrolling, multi-tap resizing and navigation between pages. 

As a contrast to this, a TV app should have max 10-15 interaction points at the screen at the same time. Also, even if the screen is huge, consumers are placed at an undefined distance of maybe as much as 20-25 feet from the screen and application designs need to reflect a worst case viewing distance. As a response to this, app developers need to make choices and prioritizations, not because of project scope and functionality limitations, but from a usability perspective. The most successful apps are the ones that consumers feel are intuitive and solve the top use cases in the best way, not the ones with the most features.


TV is a video-centric social device

The most important feature of a TV is the screen. The TV will in all likelihood be the largest, best and most responsive screen in the home. Some of the best engineers in the world have optimised this device for video and modern TVs have extremely realistic and beautiful video playback. Even if the TV is capable of other important functionality, the area where consumers will turn to apps on TV rather than on other devices will be video. Even if apps that are non-video centric are launched, video elements can be added with great effect.

In addition to playing video, the most important feature of the TV is its ability to be the modern “camp fire”. Families and friends gather around the TV for a social experience together. Some apps will work very well in this context, where others are more suitable for one-person use when the rest of the family is away.


The sky is the limit

It is clear that online connectivity to the TV will be as ubiquitous as connectivity to the mobile phone or PC. The innovation possibilities with TV apps are virtually endless and the Viera Connect platform brings a number of unique features to the market. The winners will be the app developers who manage to stay in tune with the changing TV paradigm, while managing to stay on top of the increasingly faster platform innovation cycles. 


Good luck with your TV apps.

Michael Lantz
CEO, Accedo Broadband


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