The future of music streaming on the Smart TV

I recently moved into a new home and found myself without internet for the first few weeks, whilst waiting for broadband installation. Without access to streaming services, I had to revert to more traditional methods of content consumption, utilising Freeview via satellite. In addition to discovering some excellent Freeview channels and classic shows like Wheeler Dealers, I also rekindled my enjoyment of listening to radio through the TV, reviving my passion for using the television as a music device. As I plan to purchase a new TV, I’m now keen on finding one with superior audio capabilities.

This personal experience has sparked my curiosity about the future of music streaming on smart TVs, which in this article I will explore through technological advances, current trends, and future predictions.

Historically, TV audio quality was often subpar, so much so that sound enthusiasts had to typically invest in additional equipment like sound bars to ensure their ears are having the experience that they yearn for. However, more recently, manufacturers have been releasing TVs that not only deliver robust audio output but that also include technology such as Dolby Atmos. Such technology enhances the sound experience to match the high-quality visuals these devices offer, creating a more immersive viewing and listening environment for the audience. Not only are Smart TVs from brands such as LG, TCL, and Philips offering superior sound experiences, but the UK has also recently seen the introduction of the Sky Glass, a device equipped with six robust speakers and a subwoofer. Clearly, audio innovation in TVs is advancing rapidly, and we can expect to see more progression in the audio capabilities of TV devices, something I’m particularly excited about!

As a better audio experience on TVs becomes more widespread, it prompts me to consider the future of music streaming on these devices. Typically, TVs are associated primarily with video; however, considering their prominence in our homes, often in a room designed for media consumption, isn’t it just as crucial that they serve as effective platforms for music streaming as well?

Indeed, platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and BBC Sounds are distributing their content across Connected TV devices, through their own streaming applications.

But beyond these industry giants, newer players like Roxi and Vevo are also placing Connected TVs front and centre in their strategies, signalling a belief in the TV’s potential as a hub for musical engagement. I have fond memories of being a child and watching music videos on MTV, and for many years I’ve felt that this is something that we lost as music consumption went digital. Both Roxi and Vevo are bringing the music video back. Not one to be left behind, Spotify also recently announced that they’ll be rolling our music videos to their streaming service too. This flurry of activity isn’t surprising when you consider that YouTube’s share of total TV viewing time has surpassed even Netflix, with music streaming being a huge part of YouTube’s content.

It’s not just me that thinks the television is a great device to listen to music on too, research from Hub Entertainment supports this view, revealing that half of smart TV owners use their devices to stream music or other audio content. Perhaps this data is reinforced by a popular trend being seen, the concept of background TV, in which audiences turn on the television whilst they engage with other activities around the house. This is a behaviour that is known to be served by FAST content, and it’s probable that music (and music video) streaming is also satisfying this need too.

Given the advancements in TV audio capabilities, the growth of music streaming applications on Connected TVs, and evolving audience behaviours at home, is there room to further enhance the music streaming experience on Connected TVs to better serve user needs?

Music streaming applications on TVs are typically an extension of the mobile application, with platforms like Spotify promoting the use of smartphones as remote controls to manage what’s played on the TV device.

Using a mobile phone alongside a TV device minimises the need for a user to press away with a traditional TV remote, which is convenient, but it also presents an opportunity to rethink the design of Connected TV app interfaces. Currently, most of these interfaces are organised into rails and rows of cards, similar to video streaming apps.

But is this how we’d present content to users if we didn’t have the preconception of the video or mobile experience influencing our design?

Many music streaming applications display song lyrics during the ‘now playing’ view, but Roxi takes it a step further by offering a free karaoke microphone with any sign up.

This feature is particularly exciting as it exemplifies how the music streaming application interface can be tailored to better fit a TV’s communal environment, which is more conducive to group activities like sing-alongs, compared to the solitary experience often associated with mobile phones.

If we embrace this TV-first design principle and apply it elsewhere in the app, then what more could we do to improve the experience?

For instance, we could develop features that promote a more communal experience, such as enabling multiple users to contribute to a playlist while limiting song choices to pre-agreed genres or BPMs. This functionality would be ideal for social gatherings or house parties where the TV dominates, allowing guests to collaboratively add music within agreed constraints and build a well-organised playlist without the chaos of jumping randomly through all possible genres in 30 minutes!

While there is undoubtedly scope to further improve streaming applications themselves, examining Connected TV operating systems through a TV-first perspective reveals significant opportunities for enhancement. Systems like Samsung’s Tizen, LG’s WebOS, and Comcast’s Entertainment OS are primarily tailored for video content, with their metadata systems designed to accommodate video feeds from app providers. However, these systems often lack support for purely audio-based content such as music and podcasts. There is an opportunity for the TV operating system providers to enhance their metadata ingestions capabilities, and also their interfaces, to expose not just music but also audio-first content such as podcasts. If we get really crazy, as the audio capabilities of these devices continue to advance, there may also be an opportunity for a Connected TV interface that’s designed for the music streaming fans, providing prominence to audio-first content over video content. And, embracing a bit of nostalgia and innovation, why not reintroduce the visualiser feature for the modern smart TV?

No matter how we view it, this is an exciting period for music and audio-based content on Connected TVs. As the audio capabilities of these devices advance, and as more audiences turn to their TVs for audio content, both streaming application developers and operating system providers are poised to refine their offerings to better accommodate users. Looking forward, with the introduction of innovative entertainment devices like the Apple VisionPro, music looks set to play an increasingly significant role in our content consumption, promising even greater growth in the future.

I’ll be at the International Music Summit from April 24th to 26th waxing lyrical about music on TV. If you share my enthusiasm, feel free to connect with me there or book a meeting at