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Increasing viewing time, thanks to better content discovery

Brigita Brjuhhanov speaking at Connected TV World Summit alongside moderator Bernd Riefler.

As long as TVs have existed, the question has been how to keep viewers watching for longer. And with more options than ever vying for eyeballs, it has become pressing that platform providers and content owners make it as easy as possible for consumers to discover what they want to watch.

“As a user myself, I still sometimes end up in the situation where on a Saturday evening, I can’t find anything to watch,” Brigita Brjuhhanov, TV Product Owner at Elisa Estonia, told  Connected TV World Summit two weeks ago. “And that shouldn’t happen. We should never have to search for half an hour, or an hour, to find what we want to watch.” She added: “It’s our responsibility to have happy eyeballs in front of the TV and not the ones feeling frustrated.”

While it may be tempting to blame discovery on the viewer and their indecisiveness, the panel firmly asserted that it was the role of content and service  providers to make discovery as painless as possible. And this starts with ensuring that platforms are optimised for every device and environment.

“The reality is that we need to be where the eyeballs are to make our business models work. So, we can’t assume everyone has a particular device. It’s about understanding that the consumer probably isn’t going to change their input source,” Gary Woolf, EVP Strategic Development at All3Media International, explained.

Even once a user is on a platform, the sheer volume of content can be hard to negotiate. “There’s an abundance of content and greater choice creates a challenge,” said Matthias Puschmann, TV Platform Partnerships EMEA at Google. “Our first priority is making the content available or helping our partners to provide the content to users, but then also putting them in position to understand what’s happening on a user’s device, and then presenting the content in a way that resonates.”

Platforms have always looked to keep users engaged by delivering recommendations, and while “curated recommendations are still relevant” according to Brjuhhanov, providers cannot rest on their laurels and must ‘be bold’ with creating recommendation engines. But if these backfire “you can lose the audience’s trust,” she asserted.

A key part of being able to recommend content, and making it searchable, is having complete and accurate metadata. “A problem we have as an industry is one of legacy,” said Woolf. He described the issues he had recently when bringing an old TV series  onto a streaming platform: “Not only are you cleaning up these episodes and getting them digitised, but the level of metadata that was recorded 40 years ago is nowhere near what is required. So immediately you need an army of people to create this metadata.”

Brjuhhanov agreed, stating that this issue also affects content in lesser used languages. “Having a ‘smaller’ language, and creating the metadata for that, I think it’s a challenge. And we don’t have an easy solution for that.”

Every provider wants their content to be discovered easily by all viewers. But at the end of the day, as Brjuhhanov pointed out, “We all want to be a button on the remote, but in the end we’ll run out of buttons.” Woolf pointed towards FAST (free ad-supported linear streaming channels) as an emerging way to offer consumers a different service in order to stand out. “Sometimes people just want to come home and have content on, and not have their TV ask them what to put on. This is where FAST has developed.”

However, according to Brjuhhanov, grabbing and keeping the attention of customers comes down to content, “and when we talk about what content should be prioritised, it should be what the customer wants to watch. We need to put egos aside.”

The panel was moderated by Bernd Riefler, Founder & CEO at veed analytics.

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