TV / video: finding content still as challenging as ever

“There’s nothing to watch on TV!” That most common of all linear TV viewer complaints also applies to those who consume TV content in a non-linear fashion. Too much to choose makes choosing a losing proposition and the algorithms simply cannot meet the challenges of recommendation and discovery.

Written by Barbara Chazelle (Méta-Media)

Finding the content they want not something everyone likes

That’s one of the major findings from Ericsson’s TV and Media 2015 report*. Others include the rise of mobile and streaming, the reality of “cord-nevers,” bingeing becoming the new norm and the emergence of new forms of content.

Half the linear TV viewers questioned confirmed that they “can’t find anything to watch on TV at least once a day.” The figure climbs to 62% for those 35 to 54. Once in front of the screen, 40% viewers still turn to the TV guide, with only 29% of those satisfied with what they find.

Those consuming non-linear TV are equally dissatisfied with what they’re finding when it comes to content. Many feel that the current crop of recommendation features is neither intelligent nor personal enough to meet their needs, to surprise or inspire them in their choices. In short, “There’s still nothing to watch on TV!”

To help things change for the better, 31% of those surveyed would be willing to provide personal information in exchange for a better viewing experience with content recommendations based on their viewing habits and demographics. Young people are not only more likely to give their personal data but also more confident (naive?) in the integrity of their TV operators, with 50% saying they trust their data will be managed responsibly and securely.

Consumers of non-linear TV are also in search of serendipity, discovery through lucky coincidence, accidentally finding shows they didn’t know about but really are interested in. Unlike traditional TV, non-linear services give the impression that consumers know what’s coming up in advance and so the excitement of an element of surprise is difficult to create.

“The challenge with receiving numerous suggestions and recommendations throughout the day is remembering what was worth watching,” says Ericsson.

A way to generate lists of what’s worth watching would be something to consider says the report.

More streaming, more mobile…more of the same

Over 50% of those surveyed watch on-demand video at least once a day. That’s up 30% since 2010. Today, every third hour spent watching TV and video is via video-on-demand services.

According to Ericsson, this trend is the result of competitive pricing for video-on-demand services and the proliferation of connected screens. For example, 86% of SVOD subscribers have a connected TV, while only 64% of non-subscribers have one.

Smartphones are also a huge factor in the growth of video-on-demand consumption. Ericsson estimates that the growth in video consumption on smartphones has grown by 71% since 2012. While this trend is definitely strongest with the young it is not exclusively theirs alone. In the US 86% of all smartphone owners also use their device to watch videos and 2 out of 10 consumers regularly watch linear TV on their smartphones. All in all, the time spent watching TV and video on mobile devices, including tablets and laptops has increased 3 hours a week over the past 3 years. It’s easy to understand why in this context one third of all those surveyed wanted to have their TV/video subscriptions linked to an unlimited mobile data plan.

And finally binge viewing is becoming the new viewing norm: 50% of those questioned said they binge viewed at least once a day. Bingeing is more likely something SVOD subscribers tend to do: 87% of SVOD subscribers said they binged at least once a week, something only 74% of non-subscribers admitted to.

The new content kings

It’s estimated that today people spend 6 hours a week watching streamed TV series, programs and movies on demand. That’s double the time spent in 2011.

Other content formats are taking up more and more space in these new consumption habits. The average time spent watching e-sports is now 46 minutes a week, with educational or instruction videos capturing 73 minutes a week.

UGG is not a negligible factor either: 1 out of 3 consumers believes that it is very important to be able to watch user-generated content on their TV at home – a 9% increase over 2014.

Even cord-nevers are ready to pay

Half of cord-nevers believe they will never ever pay for a managed TV service.

Cord-nevers “struggle to understand the value behind traditional linear TV, especially with inflexible packages, long contracts, lots of advertising, and high costs.”

Nevertheless 22% of cord-nevers are already paying for TV and video in the form of OTT services. And they really would be willing to pay for TV service with a different approach. Anyone targeting this segment should keep in mind that they generally watch fewer videos than others: what matters most to them is not simply having access to more content but having access to more high-quality content.

*Quantitative studies based on of 20 markets (Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, US) and qualitative studies based on 9 markets (Brazil, China, Germany, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, US).

This article was originally published on Méta-Média and is presented here as part of the editorial partnership between CMF Trends and Méta-Média.  © [2015] [Méta-Média]. All rights reserved.

Méta-Media is France Télévisions' collective blog that focus on the evolution of traditional media, new media and journalism.
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