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they are willing to ‘search’ is not unlimited. An effective solution enables search across services and the ability to find the content one actually wants to watch.” EXPERIENCE. “UI is crucial to the overall subscriber experience and Netflix shows a clear lead in this area, with the highest satisfaction amongst major platforms across ease of use, ease/quality of search, TV interface and ease of FF/RW content,” says Dominic Sunnebo, global business unit and commercial director at Kantar. “We see clearly that satisfaction across different areas of UI increases the longer a consumer subscribes to a platform, so the speed at which new subscribers are able to become comfortable with the UI is critical to retention.” “Post-crisis is seeing work, businesses, schools, sports, and indoor and outdoor activities resume. If one were to look at this objectively, it would be unwise to think that TV would remain the centre of attention,” contends Anthony Smith-Chaigneau, senior director, product marketing, NAGRA. “It may actually see a drop in viewing levels as people clamour for confinement relief. In general, UI and discovery have always been necessary regardless of a pandemic. An excellent consumer-centric user interface that gets consumers to the content they want to watch in the least amount of clicks is still considered a must-have. The difference today is that nearly all providers have analytics products that show consumption metrics and reveal UI- UX flaws.” “Although content and value for money are still the most prevalent drivers for uptake and sustained viewing of video services, UI and content discovery can make or break a customer experience,” suggests Max Signorelli, research analyst, home entertainment at Omdia. “As consumers have more time to make use of their content libraries during lockdown, the quality of a service’s structure and search engine becomes increasingly relevant to these increasingly active consumers.” VALUES. “Content availability is still a driver for the selection of a provider, together with the cornerstone of decision making, the ratio of perceived price and utility of the offer,” says Ferdinand Maier, MD, ruwido. “But what will become increasingly important in buying decisions are people’s values. Especially as the Covid-19 crisis has shifted values. And when it comes to values, the user interface is key in how these values are represented. ruwido is currently working with four value based groups: Protector (safety and security); Hedonist (experience); Optimiser (energy efficiency); Helper (convenience first). As the names indicate, these user groups represent different values. And while these are not the only values, these are the most important ones for them, when it comes to how they choose their TV and entertainment offers.” “With lockdown seeing viewers burn through box sets faster than Sunday dinners and no new “The next battleground is aggregation and that encompasses UI and discovery.” – Guy Bisson, Ampere Analysis productions underway, service providers are pushing subscribers to explore long tail content and watch an entire series over again,” notes Adam Davies, senior manager, product marketing at Synamedia. “But this is just a short-term fix. For a more sustainable business, service providers will gravitate towards the new pay-TV bundle, with the addition of third-party streaming services to their existing pay-TV offerings. Federated search and single billing will be critical parts of a unified user experience.” “I believe UI and discovery are of paramount importance,” states Tobias Fröhlich, founder and managing director of Teravolt. “They will in the end decide which platforms come out on top. Although in the short-term users might subscribe to a streaming service because they want to see a particular piece of content, or because of a friend’s recommendation, in the long run, usability will beat content in retaining users: The experience is the product, as I like to say. To this end, Teravolt conducted an elaborate UI-study on the major streaming platforms. Netflix clearly came out on top. If they manage to keep their excellent work up, I don’t think they have to fear much of their competitors.” ENGAGEMENT. Peter Docherty, founder and CTO, ThinkAnalytics, considers UI and discovery “Essential”, noting that video service providers have invested substantial sums in content production, acquisition and licensing and need to boost viewer engagement and maximise retention in order to ensure a good ROI and meet business objectives. “Today, personalised content discovery is becoming ever more important and its use and use cases are continuing to expand. It is no longer a simple ‘nice-to-have’, but an essential part of the functionality of any successful TV operator as they drive to increase revenues and improve viewer retention. To put this in context, after deploying ThinkAnalytics, customers see churn reductions of five per cent to 10 per cent; VoD viewing increasing between 25 per cent and 100 per cent; and engagement hours rising by up to 35 per cent.” “We are constantly faced with situations where we are required to make choices in our daily lives where brands, TV, games and many more are all fighting for our attention,” says Marcus Bergström, CEO of Vionlabs. “In the light of this, it is increasingly important for subscribers to be presented with a UI that limits the amount of choices down to the few that are truly relevant for each individual viewer at a specific point in time. Because of the lockdown, we currently have more time to spend in front of the TV than we normally have, but things will go back to ‘normal’ and the providers who offer the most relevant user experience will also be the providers who enjoy a boost in audience engagement and retention post-crisis,” he predicts. HITS/MISSES. What are the biggest hits, and the biggest misses in content presentation and recommendation? “With the world obsessed with video on demand, there’s a huge opportunity in making presentation and recommendations as part of the zapping experience,” suggests Amdocs Media’s Friedman. “‘Virtual channels’ that serve thirdparty OTT deep-links, like YouTube, are a great way to constantly engage with users zapping between channels. If viewers are aware that a new show is being released, they may start watching it from a channel, rather than their own VoD catalogue. These channels can become the future launch points for local and longtail OTTs or content providers that are struggling for a place at the top of the VoD library. Virtual channels can become important new marketing channels for content providers.” “The last 18 months have been about “getting out of the gate” with D2C,” suggests Firstlight Media’s Christensen. “Everybody’s focus was to get a product stood up – to be able to manage high volumes, manage subscriptions, and ensure quality of the content delivery. Where they need to make more of a dent is on the personalisation side – meaning recommendations, discovery, search capabilities, dynamic storefronts. The question now is how do they continue to evolve their product to build consumer engagement and lifetime value and reduce churn.” “Today, we’re living in an age of abundance relating to video content,” notes Gracenote’s Adams. “There is something to satisfy literally any viewer taste or mood. The most effective programme “We’re living in an age of abundance of video content.” Simon Adams, Gracenote EUROMEDIA 11