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Why the new frontier for TV viewers is discovery

Richard Jakeman, European Head of Business Development, Samsung Electronics
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The mantra ‘content is king’ holds as true as ever in today’s crowded streaming and linear market: audiences are no longer loyal to one single publisher but go where they can find the best shows. Thanks to the pandemic, streaming skyrocketed – and the habit is now entrenched. As such, the European market is ripe for new players offering the kind of new content audiences want. Publishers are stepping up, with the UK seeing a record £6bn investment in production this year. However, content alone is not the only frontier for publishers.

With so many shows, films and documentaries on offer, people are struggling to connect with the content they’ll really enjoy. This is a critical issue: having the best content is useless if consumers cannot find it. Whilst some content providers are looking towards app aggregation, whereby one platform can host multiple streams of content, the issue for the end consumer isn’t ultimately in having to jump across platforms.

The main concern we see, as confirmed by our consumer survey with Ipsos, is that consumers are overwhelmed by choice and find it hard to discover new shows from all the content available. Two-thirds of consumers in our study felt they had more than enough choice of TV, and the same proportion wished they had smart recommendations on their home TV screens to help find shows they’ll actually like.

Fortunately, there are solutions available that can benefit the end user in the search for TV content and still provide content producers and services with a viable business model that supports long-term growth, all  focused on the goal of discoverability.

Design and data: the keys for unlocking discoverability

During the last two years, we’ve all probably spent more time at home than ever before, and a lot of that time was spent watching TV. On our Samsung Smart TVs in the UK, time spent streaming rose by 62% to three hours and five minutes per day during the pandemic. Even in the first half of 2021, time spent streaming was still above average, with an extra 32 minutes spent per day watching streamed content versus linear in the UK during this period.

As with any device used so much as part of everyday life, consumers intersecting with their TVs expect intuitive, seamless and enjoyable experiences. This is something Netflix took into consideration when it did a major overhaul of its design back in 2018, improving navigation, making it quicker to get to the content users wanted to watch faster, and creating necessary shortcuts.

As more services enter the streaming space, consumers are more likely to notice which apps give them a better experience than others – and those that don’t deliver on the basic functions, like search, and jumping to the most recently watched, will fall behind.

Smart design on Smart TVs is an obvious win to get audiences to interact with your content, but it’s especially powerful when paired with data to provide individual households with a truly personalised TV experience and make content discovery easier. By understanding what a consumer might like to watch, content publishers have the opportunity to serve truly useful recommendations – putting the most relevant content in front of viewers without them having to trawl through content they are unlikely to engage with.

In fact, our recent research with Ipsos found that viewers are open to their TV playing a more proactive role in their viewing, with two-thirds (66%) of respondents saying they would be interested in recommendations for shows based on their watch history. Additionally, 77% of UK respondents to the same survey said they turn to streaming when they are looking for something new to watch, reflecting the critical role of discovery in streaming for today’s TV viewer. This is why Samsung continues to invest heavily in our Universal Guide, which delivers personalised content discoverability solutions. The AI-powered system learns what types of shows a person might like based on viewing history across all different VOD apps, and offers shortcuts to jump right back into films and TV shows.

Publishers looking for ways to reach audiences should therefore have an audience-centric approach to reaching people. Understanding what people want to watch and pointing people in helpful directions right from the homepage is one critical way to ensure the right audience is reached for any content. What’s more, sleek design that makes searching a pleasant experience can actually turn the hunt into an enjoyable one – as long as the options are all relevant. Combining data and design within streaming makes for viewers who are engaged with programming they love and a hyper-receptive audience for publishers.

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