A concise history of the birth and ascent of Smart (Connected) TV - everything you don't know.
It was during some recent research that we stumbled upon a rabbit-hole that led to us realize that the history of Smart TV (which we quickly renamed as Connected TV / CTV) is not only fascinating, but valuable to know.
In this short article on the history of Connected TV, we go back to the roots of CTV and by reading it we hope that just like we did, you will also join a few dots together that could help you reimagine or reevaluate the purpose and potential of this new age of content consumption.
Before we begin - Defining 'Smart TV'.
A smart TV, also known as a connected TV (CTV), is a traditional television set with integrated Internet and interactive Web 2.0 features, which allows users to stream music and videos, browse the internet, and view photos.
Read more about the definition of CTV vs OTT here.
Now we are 100% clear on the definition, let's dive in -
1960's: Boffins in the UK attempt to invent a 'general purpose' videotex service.
1970's: The BBC thinks about how they can use videotex to send closed captioning information to viewers, paving a course to the invention of Ceefax.
1980's: It was a cold autumn day in a sleep suburb of Japan (ok, maybe not) when the 'intelligent' TV was invented. It contained a chip with memory and character generator that enabled viewers to receive a combination of programming and other information that was transmitted over spare lines within the broadcast signal.
1990's: First patent was filed for an "intelligent television system" that was linked with data processing systems by means of a digital or analog network.
2000's: TV manufacturers begin researching and producing Smart TVs, with Samsung leading the way.
As you can see in this early article from Mashable titled 'Why Connected TVs will be about the content, not the apps', we can pinpoint how/why the initial vision adopted by manufacturers was not what we see, know and love today. Their focus was on offering viewers a TV-based way of connecting to social platforms like Facebook and sites like AccuWeather - and it was precisely this 'wrong' move that led to the rise of companies like Roku.
As the author so prophetically said all the way back then:
"Living room users don’t care about trivial updates and hashtags. They care about media and entertainment (or infotainment). For TV apps to succeed, they need to provide engaging content to the audience."
In fact, his opinion and prediction goes even further than this when he quite literally defines the 'nature' of a TV viewer vs mobile/desktop:
"Electronics companies and entrepreneurs must understand the psychology of the couch. It is the one location where people want to be entertained, often passively. They spend all day in front of phones, e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. When they kick back on the couch, the last thing they want to see is a list of unread e-mails and a loading screen."
2010's: By 2012, it was estimated that about 12 million US Households owned a 'web capable TV'. This was the initial trigger needed for the manufacturers and media companies to hear what consumers actually wanted and act. Alarmed by the meteoric rise of Roku etc, letting people read emails and surf Twitter gave way to letting people stream shows, movies and music videos.
2020's: Fast forward a few years (throwing in a pandemic for good measure) and as of this year:
88% of US homes own at least one internet connected TV (shout out to Statista for this, er, statista-ic).
Cord cutter and cord nevers outnumber legacy linear viewers 44% to 41%.
More than 50% of TV viewing now happens on a Smart/Connected TV.
The CTV market is expected to grow almost 15% in 2023 alone.
Despite this growth, linear TV remains the favored home for an overwhelming majority of ad budgets. Why? Well, while this fantastic Ad Age article from August this year sheds valuable light on why the growth in CTV advertising budgets continues to fall well below the adoption of CTV, the way we see it is that the obsession with traditional TV advertising is being caused by three seemingly immovable mountains:
Sport - which has yet to move the way it needs into the digital era.
Self-preservation - too many of the decisions still being made today are by the folks who we were quoted by AdExchanger as being 'the dinosaurs of Madison Ave'.
Fear of change - At Origin, we have a reputation for running away from tradition. While that sounds fun, it also makes growing in an industry that is allergic to change/risk (call it what you want) much harder.
When we first coined the term 'creative technology' people laughed at us before eventually starting to say it themselves.
When we highlighted the fact that attention today is harder than it was before, people ignored us until thanks to folks like TVision it became the center of, umm, attention.
When we first brought to market CTV advertising solutions and formats that quite literally changed the game by putting more emphasis on the creative than anyone else - well, that's now a thing. But it took time. Luckily, time we had and here we are now, with 34 published success stories under a belt and a mission to continue shaking the tree of progress.
So there you have it friends!
If you want to talk more about the birth, rise and domination of Smart (Connected TV), feel free to schedule time with Fred and he'll be more than happy to geek out with you.
Origin is an award-winning creative technology company whose zero code TV advertising solutions have reshaped the way marketers captivate and communicate with consumers inside and outside the home.
Fusing pioneering CTV ad formats with proprietary technology and direct media partnerships that span the streaming ecosystem, Origin's products are embraced by brands, agencies and platforms who are looking to deliver a truly personal storytelling experience to their audience.
Founded by media veterans Fred Godfrey and Stephen Strong, Origin is driven by a relentless belief that the time has come to challenge tradition and enrage the status quo. Learn more at www.originmedia.tv.