As part of Automotive Tech Week Europe, I moderated a panel discussion titled 'Re-thinking in-car entertainment'. We explored the trends driving the in-car entertainment sector including consumer expectations, seamless access, unique experiences, in-car content and monetisation. Joining this all-star panel was Pete Wood, SVP New Media Distribution at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Anya Ernest, Exploration Lead at Polestar and Adam Woolway CEO at Alluto.
Consumer expectations for in-car entertainment
A key topic discussed during the panel was around consumer expectations of the in-car entertainment experience. “Today’s consumers expect access to everything, everywhere. This is the norm” says Pete Wood.
This sentiment was echoed by Anya Ernest who explained that to provide value, it is important to understand “what is it that our customer really want to have and to get that into the in-car experience”. She explains that Polestar were the first car with the google automotive services inside - a key benefit of Google Play is it allows for third party apps to be integrated into the car ecosystem more easily. The recent launch of Polestar’s video player has been a huge milestone for the business, allowing for consumers to enjoy in-car video streaming with different localised content available in different territories.
With major developments happening with autonomous driving, Adam Woolway discussed how this will also impact consumer expectations and innovations in the in-car entertainment sector. “As soon as you have more autonomy in the car, then that opens up the passenger economy and it changes what the driver wants to see with regard to essential and non-essential functions”.
Replicating the living room entertainment experience in the car
“Where the living room ends and the car begins, how do we make the car that fourth space?” says Adam Woolway. He explains that the focus of their parent company LG, is to make the experience as close to that as possible, not just in terms of content but also the operating system that is used. A key focus for Alluto is their webOS Auto operating system, which can provide more control, especially in regards to data, to OEM’s and car manufacturers. LG plan to then bring in their content partners - they already have a large aggregation unit that is being used to put content onto over 120 million TV’s globally. “If we leverage that then we should in theory be able to then bring that living room experience into the car”.
Seamless access to services and and importance of integrated screens
Pete explains that “we need to get parity with the experience that consumers have in other places”. Anya agreed that with consumers accessing content across a multitude of screens at one time, it is important to provide seamless access from the living room to the next environment - such as the car. For example, if you are watching content on Netflix you want to be able to continue watching that episode within the car environment.
Pete added that before the pandemic, Sony Pictures Entertainment did a study which looked at the experience in the car, which showed an expectation and desire from consumers for cars to have multiple screens. “The level of interest in integrated screens was increasing and actually when you showed them it was connected to entertainment their interest in buying those vehicles that had that option was exponential”.
How to leverage the unique environment of the car?
“There is a danger that we try to apply what we do in the living room in the car”. Pete Wood says. We need to create something different that elevates the in-car experience and that is unique to the environment. “What’s important is that we fit into the consumers ecosystem and not that they fit into our ecosystem” Anya reasoned. It is important to consider the specific use cases for in-car as an entertainment vehicle, as opposed to the living room. For example, autonomous driving, the charging experience or when a passenger is waiting in the vehicle - how do we elevate that experience? However, in order to drive brand awareness and the in-car experience, OEM’s and car manufactures can’t just adopt an ‘access’ model to existing apps and services but need to elevate the experience. Equally Pete explains, that “you can’t have something in the car, that only lives in the car”.
In-car entertainment content and stakeholder challenges
Adam Woolway discussed that a key challenge is to provide great content for an in-car experience. OEM’s are working to long-lead timelines such as planning for a car launch in 2026 and these timelines don’t marry up with that of content providers. “Not all media companies are ready for the step into the automotive industry… how we can promise to the multimedia companies that there will be that market there and they should engage with it, when the timelines are not really fitting with their schedule now”. Adam explains that a key concern is that there will be lots of screens in the car but with “not very much to show on them and we need more engagement in general from media companies”.
An additional challenge is that some media companies have a “one size fits all globalisation, own the consumer, own the data” approach, says Pete Wood. This is the polar opposite to car manufactures whose focus is on sharing the revenue, sharing the data and creating unique experiences. This disconnect is further amplified by the technical realities. “Is it webOS, is it Android, is it Apple CarPlay. So who is in charge of making that work, if that is just the operating system. But the car manufacturers also have to figure out the components to go into the car”.
Pete explains that there has been a mind shift from car companies due to the developments in the media and entertainment industry. They want to share in the digital economy of the future and to own the data, as in order to innovate future experiences they need to know how consumers are engaging.
Other topics discussed include how stakeholders will monetize these new revenue streams and the challenges and future predictions for the sector in the next five years.
Watch Now On-Demand
How Can We Help?
Planning and Strategy
If you are in the beginning stages of developing or looking to improve your in-car entertainment experience, we can support you with your proposition development and provide key strategic insights including:
- Feasibility and cost
- What content is available?
- How does licensing work?
- How to partner with major streaming services
Content Acquisition Deals
If you are ready to implement your in-car entertainment vision we can support you with the content acquisition process and negotiate content deals on your behalf.
To date, we have negotiated countless deals with major providers like the Hollywood Studios and developed content services for clients operating across sectors such as in-car, in-home, hotels, ships and hospitals.