nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Confusion reigns in search and discovery effectiveness

Frustration with finding something watch pay TV users

Survey data shows that search and discovery tools are doing a poor job because frustration with the discovery process is very high. Beyond that, however, the surveys agree on little else!

I admit that sometimes I get thoroughly confused by the data I see. Case in point: Search and discovery. Here’s a sampling of three recent surveys that hardly agree on anything.

Finding something to watch is frustrating

In a Q4 2017 survey of 1000 US adults, PwC found that 50% of participants said it was frustrating searching for something to watch. PwC goes on to say that cord-nevers appear to be much more frustrated than pay TV subscribers. The company says 61% agree that searching for something to watch is frustrating. Further, three-quarters agree that “despite there being a lot of choices frustration with finding something to watch Q4 2017available to me, I often struggle to find something to watch.”

TiVo fielded a survey of 3,300 US and Canadian adults in their Q4 2017. The company’s survey data shows that frustration levels were just as high among pay TV subscribers. The company found that 52% said it was sometimes frustrating and 13% said it was always frustrating trying to find something to watch.

So, is it easy or hard to find something to watch?

With so much frustration, you would think that consumers are hard-pressed to find something they want to watch. Not so, according to TiVo. The company says that in Q4 2016, 60% of pay TV customers and 81% of OTT/SVOD users claimed they felt it was easy to find something they wanted to watch on TV. One year later, even more, people said the same thing. In Q4 2017, 70% of pay TV subscribers and 85% of OTT/SVOD users said it was easy to find something to watch.

PwC, on the other hand, said that 62% of consumers struggle to find something to watch. Moreover, when they can’t find something within a few minutes, 1-in-5 resort to watching something they’ve already watched.

At the risk of complicating the picture, let’s see what the data says about meeting our entertainment needs.

More choice makes for happier viewers

relationship between number of entertainment services and satisfactionIn a survey fielded in the US in January 2018 to 2,036 adults, Hub Entertainment Research found that people are more likely to say their TV entertainment needs are met if they have multiple video services.  40% of those with one TV subscription agreed their needs were met, while 62% of those with four or more agreed.

However, more choice brings increased complexity. Only 22% say multiple services make it easy to choose what’s best for them to watch. That said, given that more services lead to high satisfaction, the complexity certainly doesn’t seem to get in the way of finding good content.

A confusing search and discovery picture

The data we have reviewed so far makes it very hard to draw any firm conclusions on the effectiveness of the search and discovery tools. Certainly, PwC and TiVo agree that frustration levels are very high. However, the data from the companies conflict as to whether this has any impact on a consumer’s ability to find something to watch.

What should we make of PwC’s assertions that cord-nevers are more frustrated and can’t find something new to watch? Well, we can’t conclude that pay TV subscribers are less frustrated and better able to find something to watch. TiVo data refutes that assertion. We can’t even say that multiple services, and the inherently more complex discovery process, make it any less likely a consumer will find something good to watch because of the Hub data.

Perhaps all we can say is that consumers want it to be easier to find something to watch. Moreover, since experience is a key reason people stick with a service, we must continue to improve search and discovery capabilities.

Why it matters

Several studies show that people get frustrated when trying to find something to watch.

However, the studies conflict on whether this is a sign that people can’t find something to watch.

  • Even though more services make the discovery process more complex, they also increase the satisfaction level with entertainment.

One Comment

  1. Colin, great article as always!

    As for the conflicting PWC and TiVo findings, I wonder if we’re looking at a difference in the definition of “frustration”–frustration in finding “anything” to watch because you have limited options (a problem for cord nevers) vs. frustration separating the wheat from the chaff (the downside of the “peak TV” phenomenon). We’ve definitely seen plenty of evidence on both sides.

    As one of the authors of the Hub study, I can say that what we were looking at in the data you cite was not show discovery per se, but general satisfaction with the state of one’s TV service status quo, taking a range of factors into account (amount of content, budget, features, etc.). And as you saw, those with 4 or more subscriptions were the most likely to say their overall needs are “very well met”, at 62%. (Although what that also means is that the remaining 38% of people–nearly 4 in 10–who have four or more services STILL feel there’s something missing!)

    One small point of clarification, on the 22% in our study saying multiple services make it “easy to choose”. The question was actually about ease of choosing TV services (not shows). Specifically, only about 1 in 5 say that the rapid proliferation of TV services has made it easy for them to decide which “TV service” is best for them. And in fact, that percentage was 33% just a year ago. So we’ve clearly seen an increase in consumer confusion as new services are being introduced.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.