For years now, we’ve heard about the importance of personalisation, about how tailoring the content people see to their interests will engage them for longer periods of time and increase the likelihood of their making a purchase or choosing a particular brand. But even as advertisers break their audiences down into smaller and smaller segments, the entertainment industry is taking a different tack – to appeal to as many people as possible with one product (movie, television show, etc.).
The Marvel Universe is the perfect example of this: an entertainment vehicle whose progression has been plotted out in such a way to maximise media attention and box office sales. Streaming services like Amazon Prime and Hulu also aim to be all things to all people by giving them access to virtually any type of content one can think of, from reality shows and live sporting events to prestige dramas and stand-up specials. The end result is that users find themselves drowning in a sea of content, paralysed by the unprecedented amount of choice that is available to them.
This situation is not helped by the fact that there are so many opportunities for people to consume content, whether by watching television, on a streaming service, or on a social media platform. The struggle that many content providers now face is how to keep people tuning in day after day, week after week.
Disney+, for example, has relied on one of its most popular franchises, Star Wars, to draw viewers in, and keeps them there with the sheer adorableness of Baby Yoda. As an article in The Hollywood Reporter points out, the main draw of The Mandalorian is not the actors themselves but “a piece of intellectual property” – in other words, what gives the show its appeal is its relationship to the overarching Star Wars ecosystem.
The Mandalorian is an example of a streaming service going big – that is, going all-in on a concept that is likely to resonate with an extremely large audience. If, however, a network does not have access to a piece of intellectual property as lucrative as Star Wars, that might actually be a good thing, because it means that the network has to think about the types of content that their audience is likely to enjoy. Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a single television show, that money can be spread around to create many different pieces of content that appeal to many different types of people.
But it doesn’t matter how much content you create if nobody’s able to find it. Netflix, in particular, has faced criticism for debuting shows and then allowing them to vanish quietly into the depths of its catalogue. Moreover, the ways in which streaming platforms display their offerings is often convoluted and unnecessarily complicated, which makes it difficult for users to discover new content that they might be interested in. By making it such an arduous process to find something to watch, platforms are inadvertently limiting the amount of time people spend with their content, as well as their loyalty to one particular content provider.
Content curation is especially important from an advertising perspective. Even platforms that don’t have ads (eg. Netflix or Amazon Prime) do rely on product placement (or some type of it) to provide additional revenue, which means being able to prove to those brands that their shows are reaching dedicated audiences. Consequently, being able to know what types of shows different viewers are interested in – and being able to promote certain shows to a select group of viewers – is an incredibly invaluable tool for both brands looking to advertise and platforms looking to rake in additional revenue.
So how do you keep people interested? Firstly, by offering them the content they want. Secondly, by making that content as easily accessible as possible, both within the platform and on any devices they might use to watch. This allows you to reach viewers wherever they may be, whether in the comfort of their own home, at the gym or in their hotel room. Thirdly, by creating opportunities to get the entire household involved, thereby magnifying the impact. This is where Disney+ can excel, because it has properties that appeal to the very young, teenagers, millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers, and pretty much anybody who’s seen a movie in the past hundred years. Good content shouldn’t be hard to find.