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Through the viewer’s eyes: a new perspective

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The media industry has struggled with seeing things from their consumers’ perspectives, because it is very different from the media’s point of view. We have broadcast networks and cable networks. We have subscription streaming services and transactional streaming services coming through a variety of TVs and plug-in devices. These distinctions matter to us, but they don’t make a difference to the viewer. People get channels in their homes and they have no idea who is a broadcaster, who is a cable company, who has subscription streaming vs transactional streaming. And they don’t care.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that many media companies don’t really understand their new end buyer. Sure, they used to do some audience testing, but typically the buyers were not the end consumer. Now, increasingly, they are. That’s a whole new voyage of discovery that will require companies to embrace a new consumer-centric mindset and lose an industry-centric perspective.

Giving the people what they want

Consumers just want to watch what they want, when they want, on the device they want—in a frictionless way. And that’s easier said than done—as Turner found out recently with The Match. Designed to be a pay-per-view event featuring Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods golfing head-to-head, the “total audience for the match surpassed expectations across all of our platforms,” according to Turner President David Levy. The problem was the infrastructure was not ready for it.

In the minutes leading up to The Match, the company lost the ability to process payments, so Turner decided to make viewing the match free for anybody who tried to purchase it. And subsequently, those who purchased The Match through cable providers Comcast and Spectrum were issued a full refund. “Turner had reportedly paid $10 million for the event’s broadcast rights,” according to GolfWorld. Those are expensive teething pains for Turner, as they learn to become a direct-to-consumer content provider.

Consumer-centric not industry-centric

The industry can really struggle to adjust to looking at the world through the consumers’ eyes. The industry-centric view of many companies was made abundantly clear to me by a survey I recently completed. It was from a well-known digital-first media company that was reaching out to their community members. The questions showed a very clear industry-centric point of view.

Here are a few: 

Which of the following subscription streaming services do you have?

Hulu, Starz, Sling TV, HBO Go/Now, DirecTV Now, Amazon Prime Video, PlayStation Vue, CBS All Access, YouTube TV, ESPN+, Netflix, Showtime On Demand 

Which of the following transactional streaming services do you have?

Microsoft Movies & TV, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Video, iTunes, Fandango Now, Sony PlayStation Movies & TV, On-demand through TV or app from your cable or satellite TV provider

There was no description of what a transactional streaming service even means.

The final question was: 

Which of the following streaming media players or devices do you own?

PlayStation, Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Smart TV, Other streaming media player

Seems to me there were a few questions missing, such as – How familiar are you with these services? Do you know what they offer? Does the distinction between subscription and transactional matter to you? I’d wager that the answer to all these questions would be “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

The reality is, asking people to look at the world through the media industry’s eyes simply won’t work. Not only does it NOT matter to average consumers, it is certainly complicated, too.

My family is filled with media industry junkies. There are so many streaming/transactional services that basic awareness for us is a challenge, no less figuring out what that service offers. How can the media industry think consumers know the differences between these services when two industry insiders aren’t clear on them either?

These are revolutionary times in the world of media. But one thing is certain, in the end it is the viewer who will decide who wins and who loses. Those who understand them best and make getting access to great content seamless and intuitive, will win. We’d love to help you see the world through the viewers’ eyes.

Please contact me and see you at the Media Insights & Engagement Conference, January 29-31, 2019, in Los Angeles!

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