Viewers Need a Better Way to Find and Watch TV Content in a Multi-Platform World
By Bart Myers, Vice President of Consumer WebÂ Properties, Rovi
Despite the rising number of entertainment options, itâ€™s clear that Americans are watching as much TV as ever. Theyâ€™re just watching it differently, discovering new ways to enjoy TV on their own terms and on whatever device is available to them.
They are streaming free and premium content to their tablets and smartphones. They are tuning into online services like Hulu and Netflix to watch their favorite shows. They are even paying a few bucks to watch single episodes via services like iTunes and Amazon Prime. And, yes, they still rely on cable and satellite subscriptions.
Still, many people in the television industry are freaking out. Theyâ€™re obsessed with the same question: â€śWhoâ€™s cutting the cord?â€ť After all, Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable provider, said it lost 117,000 video customers in the third quarter of 2012. After decades of steady increase, the number of U.S. households subscribing to pay-TV service is now on the decline, according to the Nielsen Company.
But cord-cutting isnâ€™t the real issue. Instead, content producers should be asking, â€śWhat cords are viewers usingâ€”and how can we maximize the value of those cords for everyone involved?â€ť
Nielsen recently began tracking the viewing habits of millions of Americans that now connect to entertainment content via the Internet, and not through a cable or satellite service. Nielsen found that more than two-thirds of these â€śZero TVâ€ť homes get their content from a broad range of devices including personal computers, Internet-connected TVs, smartphones and tablets.
For the content provider industry, there are lessons to be learned from these â€śZero TVâ€ť homes. The Nielsen study found that nearly half of the â€śZero TVâ€ť homes now watch shows through online subscription services. Yet, many are finding that the content they love is not readily available in all formats and platforms, which leads them back to a siloed approach to getting their TV content.
The three main use cases in TV watching are:
- The viewer is at home, trying to decide whatâ€™s on TV to watch right now.
- The viewer is anywhere, trying to plan what to watch later.
- The viewer is on a connected device and wants to watch whatever is available online.
The problem for content owners, however, is maintaining the relationship with the showâ€™s fan base across multiple siloed platforms.Â Content providers should be able to connect to the user where they are watching TV, but the current ecosystem of devices and content rights makes that relationship extremely hard to manage.
Increasingly, viewers need an advanced set of tools and services that can guide them across all the different ways they consume televised entertainment today. For content owners, this means that they need to keep an eye on rapidly evolving TV consumption habits.Â To keep up with the changing consumer landscape, content providers need to think differently about how people are planning for and enjoying content.
Consumers, meanwhile, are hungering for televised entertainment content online, but itâ€™s simply too hard to find. They donâ€™t understand why they canâ€™t access their favorite content anytime, anywhere, from any deviceâ€”especially since the technology exists to make it happen. The maze of blind alleys the viewer must navigate to find that content can be excruciating.
If content providers want to maintain the relationship with viewers in this future world of entertainment on every medium, content discovery needs to be much easier.
As things stand today, there is too much friction in the marketplace. We shouldnâ€™t be cutting consumers off from their favorite shows. Instead, we should be finding new ways to better connect viewers with entertainment content, and helping them understand the appropriate options for enjoying that contentâ€”wherever they are and on whatever platform they choose.
About the Author
Bart Myers isÂ Vice President of Consumer WebÂ PropertiesÂ at digital entertainment innovator, Rovi Corporation.Â He co-founded SideReel.com in 2006, which was acquired by Rovi in 2011.Â SideReel.com is a website that helps people watch and track their favorite TV shows online and was one of the early sites to embrace the then emerging trend of cord cutters.Â For more information, visitÂ www.rovicorp.comÂ orÂ www.sidereel.com. Follow Bart on Twitter, @bartolah.