Creating interactive content helps increase viewing times and even further data capture, while helping to influence how the rest of the consumer's viewing experience will unfold, says Ian Sharpe, CEO of Promethean TV.
Ian Sharpe is CEO of Promethean TV
The impact of the coronavirus has seen many TV networks brace themselves for a significant drop in advertising for the remainder of 2020 as brands reduce marketing budgets due to global lockdown measures.
These challenges have been alleviated by opportunities created from an increase in subscriptions to streaming and OTT services. A recent report from Nielsen stated that staying in our homes can lead to almost a 61% increase in the amount of content streamed via TV.
This probably serves as the perfect time to step back and evaluate the market because ultimately, broadcasters have to start drawing up long-term plans to navigate the ‘new normal’ left in the wake of the crisis.
Audience viewing habits
Audience viewing habits have changed significantly long before the Covid-19 outbreak. Research firm eMarketer predicted that the number of cord cutters in the US would increase to one-fifth of households by 2021, and one fourth by the end of 2022. A recent report from Comcast said the average household is watching TV at least eight hours more per week. In early March 2020, audiences watched 57 hours of content per week, but this is now up to 66 hours a week and only continuing to grow. Interest in movies has also peaked, with the viewing of drama programmes increasing by 30%, followed by comedies at 18%, demonstrating consumers are looking for escapism wherever they can get it.
These changes open up great possibilities to attract a captive audience if broadcasters review their video content and maximise the available opportunities to boost engagement with consumers.
Emerging digital channels
Today, more than three-quarters of internet users have increased their smartphone usage in recent weeks compared to their pre-lockdown behaviours. A coronavirus study from Global Web Index also reported that 34% of internet users are spending more time using smart TVs and streaming devices such as Apple TV or Amazon Fire Sticks.
Looking ahead, we can expect the popularity of digital channels to continue increasing. As a result, broadcasters need to ensure their video content has the flexibility and agility needed to attract viewers and reduce churn.
Rise of the individual
People want a more personalised service and these expectations have become more prevalent with viewers hunkering down with video content at home. Broadcasters need to take the initiative to gain an understanding of their individual viewers – there has never been a better time to harvest audience data than now. By analysing how long viewers watch for, the devices they use, where they choose to watch and what they watch next, broadcasters can draw a picture of individual viewing behaviours and preferences to unlock better experiences in the long term.
Making the most of data
Broadcasters can use data to review video content in the wake of coronavirus and ensure they are sharing relevant content with the right person, at the right time and on the right platform. There are several tools to help businesses process this data to help better understand consumer behaviour at an individual level and get more value from their video content. Machine learning tools, for instance, can be trained to find patterns from historical data, predicting what content the consumer wants to consume next to help boost audience engagement in just a fraction of the time.
Once data has been gathered, broadcasters can create interactive content better aligned with the individual’s interests and viewing habits. Instead of a passive user experience, this type of content requires the person watching to take action, such as answer a question, vote in a poll or even make a purchase. Creating interactive content helps increase viewing times and even further data capture, while helping to influence how the rest of the consumer’s viewing experience will unfold. Refining video content while consumers crave connections will help boost overall engagement and retention. A recent study reported that interactive content leads to an 87% increase in engagement, as the tailored messages are speaking one to one rather than one to many.
Finally, video must no longer be a one-way flow of information. Audiences should be able to engage with the broadcaster’s content and make watching active – it’s all about personalisation and interactive experiences.