Video, Video Everywhere, and Nary a Thing to Watch

Aug. 17, 2015
When's the last time you heard someone complain about not having enough choices when it comes to digital media? These days you're more ...

By Todd Viegut, Kannuu

When's the last time you heard someone complain about not having enough choices when it comes to digital media? These days you're more likely to see the opposite - we often have so many options laid out in such a way that it's easy to become overwhelmed by all the content available to us. Having a wide variety of selections available at the click of a button should be a good thing, and yet consumers are overwhelmingly unsatisfied and frustrated with their content providers. But why?

It's no secret that many service providers offer a less-than-satisfactory user interface experience. As a culture that spends and average of more than 41 hours each week engaging with digital content, we've come to expect something better. Pandora Radio paved the way for the rise of Internet Radio 2.0 by allowing listeners to discover new artists and songs based on their interests. Since then, many other digital music providers have joined the marketplace in hopes of achieving similar success.

When it comes to digital visual media, though, nobody has risen above the others as setting a high standard for search and discovery functionality.

Sure, some have tried, but none of the major providers have managed to establish themselves as the premier option for customers wanting an excellent user experience as well as a wide variety of video on demand (VOD) content. Although VOD is available in more than 60% of U.S. households, 73% of them have never ordered any movies from their pay TV providers. Why is that? People simply cannot find anything personally interesting to watch because of unsatisfactory search functionality.

Digitalsmiths' Q1 2015 Video Trends Report on consumer behavior across pay TV, VOD, pay-per-view, OTT, connected devices and content discovery gives us some statistics to support these notions. For example, almost 48% of respondents said they needed immediate attention from their service providers to keep them from completely cutting the cord or switching to a different company. One of the most commonly shared frustrations among viewers was the clunky UI and antiquated search function. With so many channels and on-demand options to choose from, an integrated and efficient search and recommendation function is no longer merely a luxury - it's a necessity that viewers expect.

Of those who were on the fence about switching providers or cutting the cord altogether, almost half of them also said that they would stay with their current provider if they released updated search functionality that made it easier to find something to watch. In other words, 44% said that if they could actually find what they're looking for, they'd be willing to spend the money. It's not about how much it costs, it's that users need a search that simply works. There are classic cases of Wimbledon matches or other major sporting events being on TV, but when people type Wimbledon into their TV search bar, they find nothing.

When it comes to finding that perfect sporting event, movie or TV show to watch, an expansive search function isn't always good enough. Although viewers typically have an idea about what they're looking for, many rely on the recommendation and discovery functions to provide them with relevant options to choose from. So it comes as no surprise that many consumers are unsatisfied with their current provider when 71.8% of content providers don't even make recommendations.

The vast amount of content available to viewers today can make it difficult for us to find what we're looking for. When browsing for something to watch with multiple members in a household, 72% of respondents claimed that they are "always" or "sometimes" frustrated.

A common frustration many have is that sports aren't included in discovery features. People often sit down to watch the game and can't even find it. What's worse is that it's difficult to know how or where to even begin looking. Providing recommendations or curated lists targeted at subscribers based on viewing history would help resolve much of the irritation customers have with services.

The ability to shape the viewers' experience across all of their devices while curating content along the way isn't science fiction. The technology exists. What the industry needs is consumer-driven demand for change.

Finding what you want to watch and discovering new content shouldn't seem like hard work, and it doesn't have to be. Consumers should be spending less time searching and more time watching, which - in the end - makes everyone happy.

The good news is that innovation is coming. Startups and other tech companies are working on this tough and complex problem. It will be solved, but in the meantime, viewers are drowning in content yet can't find something to watch.

Todd Viegut is the CEO of Kannuu. Reach him at [email protected].