Short form video platforms like TikTok and the stories mode on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook have changed the way people consume content on smartphones. Instead of the traditional landscape mode, these platforms and modes are encouraging users to create and view content in portrait mode.
Content in portrait mode works fine on smartphones, but when the same content is played on TV, it fails to make the most of the screen and disrupts the user experience with wide empty bars. “In smartphone we can easily switch between vertical and horizontal modes. But when you play a social media content from smartphone on a TV the experience isn’t that good," rues Jaipal Singh, associate research manager, Client Devices at IDC.
This is going to change soon with a new breed of TVs that can play content in both landscape and portrait mode. At CES 2020, Samsung showed a new TV called Sero, which in Korean means vertical. It has a 47-inch 4K QLED screen that can automatically rotate to a vertical position if the user is playing content in vertical format from platforms like TikTok.
Targeted at the millennial and Gen Z customers who consume and create content in portrait mode on the smartphone, Sero will let them play the same content on a much larger screen. Monika Manchanda, food writer and Instagrammer, feels vertical TVs will appeal a lot to the millennial. “My Instagram stories get a lot of views. Sometimes they are more than my regular posts. While stories are meant to be consumed on the go, but if I am getting the option to watch all that content on a larger screen without spending too much money, I won’t mind getting it," added Manchanda.
Vernika Awal, another Instagrammer and founder of food blog Delectable Reveries, points out, the reason why people love content like this is because they are quick content and one can watch them on the smartphone. Vertical TVs will make more sense only if other OTT platforms start creating content in portrait mode. Awal has a point. As of now vertical content is largely user generated.
However, the nature of content in vertical format is also evolving very fast. While TikTok started as a platform for sharing funny experiences and moments, it now offers content on education, social awakening, health and fitness too. Platforms like Firework are also encouraging creators to create and share more serious, story-driven content in vertical format.
Awal Madaan, TikTok influencer and Youtuber notes, “Vertical format is the future as the world is moving from horizontal to vertical content. The fact that almost all social media platforms have embraced it shows that the trend is changing. Eventually OTT players like Netflix will also switch to this format." IDC’s Singh also feels, people’s consumption habits have changed and as popularity of vertical content increases, content creators will have to make sure their content is available in this new format too.
Singh is quite optimistic about the future of vertical TVs and feels they are here to stay. How buyers will respond to a vertical TV in India will depend on its positioning as it is a very price sensitive market.
Sero is priced at approximately $1600 ( ₹1,15,186 after conversion) in South Korea and will be available in other markets sometime in 2020.