Taking AT&T Over The Top

Over the past decade, the way in which we consume media has changed drastically – this is especially true in world of television. The concept of traditional television is becoming archaic due to the expansion of smartphones and the advancements in technology and data transfer. According to a survey by eMarketer – 75% of content worldwide is viewed through a mobile device. This way of circumventing traditional service providers is called Over-The-Top, or OTT, and it’s a booming market.

With this shift in behavior, it is no surprise that many new faces are joining Netflix in this realm. Hulu, Amazon Video, and YouTube TV have all been chipping away, but recently even more players are getting a piece of the pie. Disney+, Apple+, Roku, SlingTV, and iTunes are all OTT providers getting in the game, and AT&TĀ can be added to that list as well.

The Challenge

As AT&T joins the party, there are many obstacles that they need to consider to ensure a quality user experience, as well as looking for novel ways to differentiate themselves from the saturated market. The task given to us, is to look into the world of OTT and help AT&T create a viable concept for how user search for content, while also signifying the difference between Live TV, OnDemand, as well as Premium services like HBO that will be included in the AT&T bundle. A simple search for “game” will return information about a live sports game, any episodeĀ current, recorded, or upcoming from the Gameshow Network, as well as OnDemand Premium shows like Game of Thrones. In all instances, the way this information is presented will need to be quickly digested and understood and done in a manner that makes searching and discovery fun. With this in mind, I began the exploration into areas of interest that may be particularly useful as we begin to discover the problem space.

Areas of Interest

Searching vs navigation

Searching requires the user to have a certain understanding of what they are looking for. Much like the “game” scenario from before, they need to know a game is being played, their provider carries Gameshow Network, or have an interest in watching Game of Thrones. There is a taxation on the user to input the keywords, and do so correctly.

Navigation implies that the user does not know where they are going, much like a map at a amusement park. There may be some categories from which to choose from, but the results may be serendipitous – or they may fall flat and find nothing that excites them at all.

The combination of the two will be a unique way to alter the process in which people look for content.

Mobile Viewing

As noted earlier, 75% of the global population consumes their content from a mobile device. This is not surprising, as they are essentially mini TV’s in our pocket, and especially in less prosperous countries, they may be the only screen available to some people. As the speed of data transferring improves with 5G, more and more content will be streamed through our phones rather than a television set.

This is important when I think about a search function, because it greatly reduces the display size, and also changes the tools for interaction, from a remote control to just their hand. This may be to a user experience benefit however, as swiping and scrolling are much more pleasing than clicking through a cumbersome controller.

Future of Hardware

The last area I want to heavily consider is the emergence of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. As these both become more mainstream, it is worth considering what the process for searching and navigating in either scenario may provide. Utilizing 3-dimensional space has the opposite problem of a limited phone screen, but may be just as tricky to maneuver. I believe an effort to pioneer this space could be very interesting and unlock many opportunities for enjoyable user experiences.