Loony Box Changes Its Tune

TV. Drug of a nation. How has it changed? Is it still a thing? Have we all got 4K screens yet? And what’s just around the bend? Looking for insight, PAT PILCHER interviews Samsung’s Adam McElroy.

 

As a kid, the old Pye wood veneer boob tube in my parents’ lounge seemed monolithic, yet after decades of little to no change in how we vegetated in front of the loony box, things are now changing fast.

I caught up with Adam McElroy, Samsung’s NZ Group Marketing Manager, to discuss some of these changes.

PP – What is different about the NZ TV market compared to other markets? What do you think are the drivers of these differences?

AM – Compared to the global market, we see a higher demand for large screen panels. In New Zealand last year Samsung’s most popular panel size was 55-inches.

This is a reflection of how Kiwi homes are unique, particularly compared to others in the Asia Pacific – we typically live in more spacious homes with open plan communal areas, which is a reflection of how family life revolves around the living and kitchen areas.

We also tend to favour technologies in our TV that offer the brightest picture quality – like our neighbours in Australia, we have on average more daylight hours than most other countries in the world. All that sun streaming into our living rooms means that brighter TVs that offer anti-reflection technology are very appealing.

In the past, the problem with increasing the brightness on a TV meant sacrificing colour volume – as the image got brighter, the colour became increasingly washed out. This is why we’re really excited about our QLED series this year. The new Quantum Dot material lets us build panels that are incredibly bright, but still manage to achieve a 100% colour volume – which is a world first for any TV.

PP – So What are the big trends in TV-land?

AM – While UHD has become the standard for TV purchases last year, consumers will be increasingly looking to purchase TVs that can offer excellent HDR picture quality. HDR has been a big buzzword in TV for the past 12 months or so, but this is the year Kiwis are going to see an influx of HDR content available via their Smart TVs. YouTube Red is offering some HDR content already, and Netflix Original’s series are almost entirely produced in HDR. The new player in the market is Amazon – they’ve announced they’ll be releasing 12 new HDR titles this year. Our QLED TVs offer up to HDR 2000 (on the Q9 series), which is ideal for conveying all the detail this great HDR content offers, so you can view exactly what the director intended.

With the launch of video on demand (VOD) apps such as Amazon Video and Netflix, New Zealanders have an unprecedented range of content and services they can access through their Samsung Smart TVs. We’ve seen access to these services become a key purchase factor over the past two years. Samsung is pretty excited by this trend given our currently unmatched range of local and international VOD apps (Fanpass, NEON, Lightbox, Amazon Video, Netflix, YouTube and more).

Design wise, TV has evolved significantly and the way the TV looks has become the most important thing after picture quality for customers. Samsung has been particularly focused on designing beautiful TVs that look great in any home setting – from both the front and the back, thanks to our 360 design. Our curved TVs have been really successful in NZ, as they look striking and modern. This year, in addition to our signature curved TVs, we’re also offering flat panels that mimic picture frames – our Q9 series looks amazing mounted on the wall, and with our clear connect cable and flush wall mount they actually look like works of art on your wall.

PP – Are there any inhibitors that figure in these trends?

AM – A lot of consumers aren’t really sure about what technologies create the best picture quality. Resolution is only part of the equation – other features like panel brightness, colour volume, contrast, and HDR play an important role in creating a lifelike and detailed image on the screen. That’s why Samsung is pushing Quantum Dot as our lead picture quality technology, because it encompasses all these things. We hope consumers will recognise ‘QLED ‘ as synonymous with the best picture quality.

Our retailers tell us customers are blown away when they compare a TV from even as recently as five or six years ago with today’s HDR and 4K offerings. Seeing is believing with our TVs, especially QLED, so we are making a lot of effort to connect with consumers, media and influencers to show how far TV has evolved. We’re also working closely with our retail partners – we know the market is growing for UHD TVs, and we have lots of insights around what consumers are looking for in their next TV to equip our sales partners with the tools and knowledge to effectively explain and communicate the benefits of Quantum Dot.

PP – And is the NZ TV market growing or shrinking?

AM – The TV market began bouncing back in 2016 after five years of decline, and more growth is expected for 2017. The fastest growing segment is in premium TV offerings.

PP – Why?

AM – There are a few driving factors behind this new growth in the TV market. However, one thing that has made a significant impact is the smart content we are watching on our TVs.

TV has become a force to reckon with in the last 24 months. You only have to look at what is happening in Hollywood to see how important TV content has become recently. Film has always been the pinnacle for Hollywood’s elite talent, but more actors and directors are being attracted to projects developed for TV. Consider Kevin Spacey in House Of Cards, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in Big Little Lies, Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughan in True Detective to name a few. With one in four New Zealanders subscribing to digital content like Netflix, it’s easy to see why Kiwi consumers are increasingly looking to purchase TVs that will allow them to get the most out of this amazing content. Given Samsung’s leadership in respect to the range of VOD apps we offer we feel we’re pretty well positioned to capitalize on this growing market appetite.

PP – What about the way Kiwis consume TV? Has that changed much? If so, how?

AM – Yes, it has. TV viewers are embracing the flexibility and viewing options of the Smart TV era – all the streaming and on demand services available to us today mean than viewers can watch their content when they want, how they want, and more often in not in amazing quality thanks to the growing amount of HDR and 4k offerings.

TV has also become one of devices in the home that brings people together – while some technology isolates us from face to face contact, TVs actually bring friends and family together, whether it’s inviting mates over to watch the big game together, or enjoying a movie night in with the family on the couch. I think this importance placed on TV as a hub of family entertainment is definitely a factor in why Kiwis are investing more in TVs, and in particular the larger and more premium models.

PP – Looking into your crystal ball, what key future predictions do you have for the TV market?

AM – As the market leader in New Zealand for TVs, we are really excited about where the category is going this year. Kiwis will continue their love affair with big panels – last year, our bestselling panel size was 55-inches. We’re expecting this to increase to 65-inches in the next couple of years. We are also offering large panels in retail this year, with 75-inch and 88-inch models in our new QLED series.

So we see consumers continuing to choose larger, premium TVs. Given Samsung’s dominance of the premium end of the market, this can only be a good thing for us.

The growing range of TV viewing options (linear, cable, VOD) will lead to a more empowered TV audience and therefore a more engaged one. This is a trend that Samsung is excited about given the breadth and depth of our content offering.

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