The Future of TV: A View from 2013


The future of TV is an app. Smartphones and tablets are leading the way, training millions of users how to visit an app store to choose and download their own selection of third-party applications onto their devices. According to TDG, during the course of the next seven years, the app ecosystem will extend to the net-connected devices that link to TV sets. We believe this shift is inevitable, supported as it is by strong forces of shifting consumer demand, technology evolution, developer interest, and marketing necessity. The shift will happen gradually, slowed by industry inertia, device replacement cycles, and resistance to change by the legacy TV viewing audience. As iSTBs, game consoles and smart TVs themselves eventually come to support apps, however, a substantial portion of TV viewing will transition from today’s linear broadcast model to a model we call ‘App TV.’ This model will be characterized by unrivaled choice and flexibility to the user, but will also introduce new challenges and fragmentation to the TV industry. The days of a standard TV user interface are over, and search will come to dominate TV discovery just as it dominates Internet discovery today.

This report examines the ‘Future of TV’ in the following five steps:

  • First, we discuss the difference between channels and apps, and why ‘App TV’ is now happening.
  • Second, we examine the inhibitors of TV-as-an-app, which may slow (but cannot stop) TV’s evolution.
  • Third, we describe the basic characteristics of the ‘App TV’ ecosystem.
  • Fourth, we assess the pace and progress of ‘App TV’ across each of the major device platforms that consumers use to watch video. This perspective is then used as the basis of forecast growth of ‘App TV’ between 2013 and 2020.
  • Finally, we will close with some thoughts and strategic recommendations for key TV industry stakeholders, including device makers, content owners and pay-TV providers.

This report also provides forecasts of ownership, availability, penetration, and usage of App TV by device platform, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, iSTBs, game consoles, Blu-ray players, and PCs.

For further information or questions, please contact Laura R. Allen.