Amid the pandemonium of the Coronavirus pandemic, there’s a golden opportunity right now for one sector of the media world to permanently cement its value to the American public. Smart TV and TV-connected device makers possess the capability and flexibility to offer lifelines to the growing homebound U.S. population. That is, if they move rapidly and partner up with each other, plus application developers, private sector leaders in various industries and non-profit institutions.
Whether a set maker like Samsung, LG or Panasonic, or a device provider like Roku, Amazon, Google, Nvidia and Facebook, smart gadgets already have mass public loyalty in hand. Most recent industry statistics put ownership of smart TVs/gadgets between 75 and 80 percent of all U.S. households, with those households watching upward of 10 billion hours of content and apps per month via these products. If that’s not a foundation to build a media leadership role around, I can’t imagine what is.
There are plenty of ways smart TV providers can get busy right now and make enduring this pandemic from home much easier on both the mind and the pocketbook. Here’s a smattering of options:
Launch video chat, telemedicine and teleeducation services for individual and family use. Adapt features like Zoom and Google Hangout for TV chat display, available at any time for people to communicate with each other from home. Bring a new version of WebMD to life nationwide with multimedia updates on local Coronavirus conditions. Organize educational video outreach at every level. And it’s time for Facebook to go all out and market Portal TV, its smart TV product with video chat at its core, either free on a temporary one or two-month trial basis, or at a reduced cost. (I wrote a column about Portal TV just a few weeks ago.)
Establish video presentations of religious services and upcoming celebrations of Easter and Passover. Minno, the faith-based smart TV-distributed programming service presenting kid-vid and family life content, launched a free “Church at Home” app two weeks ago. App users receive video elements of Sunday services from songs to Bible-centric sermons and prayer/devotional sessions. Another feature presents Coronavirus information to kids, with regular updates.
Open availability of product/service ordering everywhere. Work with Walmart, Costco, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s and other retailers to adapt their online commerce sites for smart TV sets and devices. Once these features start running, invite viewers to use Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa and other artificial intelligence-powered voice capabilities in their sets/devices to order necessary foods, goods and services. Do the same thing with the major restaurant/fast-food chains, Grubhub, DoorDash and other food delivery entrepreneurs, small business owners and firms like Home Advisor and Angie’s List. Side result: keeping many employees engaged at all these businesses from unemployment.
Push for universal availability of already-existing functionality. Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV-using households already have 24/7 ability to order any Amazon merchandise they want. Extend that option to the entire smart TV set/device community at no additional charge. Food Network Kitchen, the Discovery/Amazon-crafted interactive service already playing on Amazon Fire TV, should catapult its timetable to launch on other smart products, giving more people access to two-way live cooking classes, ordering groceries, ingredients and kitchen utensils for same/next-day delivery, and searching an 80,000-recipe library for helpful cooking tips 24/7. Google’s Android TV and Chromecast ventures can do something similar with a rollout of Google Play and its thousands of apps.
Be a first choice for running temporary at-home entertainment options that celebrities are generating. Frozenco-star Josh Gad is putting together a video book club kids can interact with from home. Social media destinations are presenting on-the-fly home or location music and dance performances from John Legend, OneRepublic and other popular artists. What a natural attraction for smart TVs/devices to keep homebodies entertained and motivated.
Push more usage of smart home apps. Encourage opportunities for viewers to adjust their room temperature and lights, appliance energy and use of electricity with their smart TV products. If such capability isn’t available somewhere, make it available free or at the lowest possible cost.
Gigantic opportunities of this nature rarely come along in a lifetime for any communications medium. For all the players in this quadrant of consumer electronics, this one is here. Now. As folksinger Tom Chapin once sang on a popular 1970s children’s TV series, “If you want it, you can get it. But to get it, you’ve got to want it. Anything you want to try, just let go, fly high.”
Smart TV community, do you want it?
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