Despite the investment in advanced search and discovery tools by service and device providers, the video guide remains their critical resource. Presenting the right movie image and description is crucial in making the guide a great experience.
The free TV Universe report from nScreenMedia and sponsored by Gracenote looks at the viewing behaviors of pay TV, free-to-air TV, and online TV viewers in the UK, Germany, and Sweden. The Q1 2019 surveys upon which the report is based show how people find something to watch. It reveals how challenging content discovery is for viewers and how advanced discovery tools are mostly missing the mark.
The guide remains king of the content selection process
In a recent survey of UK, German, and Swedish viewers, nScreenMedia found that the TV guide remains the tool consumers most pay TV and free-to-air viewers rely on to find something to watch. However, the tried-and-trusted channel-flipping is close behind. For example, in Sweden, 67% of people say they use the on-screen guide to find something to watch, while 57% say they flip channels.
For online viewers, it is all about the video guide provided by the service provider. In Sweden, Germany, and the UK, around 40% say they mainly use the service provider guide when looking for something to watch. Less than 20% say they mostly use the guide provided by the device they are currently using.
The reliance on the guide makes for a very cumbersome search process. The average European viewer has two or more services, and so must load each separately to hunt down the perfect TV show or movie for the moment. It turns out, tools created to help ease the process aren’t engaging consumers.
Cross-service search, recommendations not connecting with users
Device makers have invested in cross-service search capabilities for the devices. For example, Amazon Fire TV, the top streaming media player in the UK and Germany, has a cross-service search feature. So does Apple TV, the top player in Sweden, and second most popular in the UK and Germany.
Unfortunately, people do not seem to be using the feature very much. Only 1-in-10 people use the feature on a weekly.
Recommendations are another approach video service providers, and device makers are using to shorten the time it takes people to find something to watch. The good news is that two-thirds or more of online TV viewers are seeing these recommendations. The bad news is that they don’t seem to be doing a good job. In Sweden and Germany, under 20% say the recommendations accurately reflect their interests, and 35% say the same in the UK.
Great graphics, descriptions critical
With few alternatives available for online TV viewers, the guide is the crucial tool in the success of an online TV service. Moreover, some analysts conjecture that the experience of a service is as relevant as the content. According to the data, the easiest way to boost experience is by beefing up the show graphics people see when they browse the guide.
More than half the survey participants in each country said show graphics were important or very important in helping them decide to watch a show or movie. What’s more, 3-in-5 or more said the descriptions were somewhat or very influential in their decision about whether to watch a show.
Why it matters
Online TV viewers mostly rely on the guide offered by their service and device providers to help them find something to watch.
Advanced tools like cross-service search and recommendations are mostly missing the mark with viewers.
Great TV show graphics and description are the best way to help people find something to watch.