The media industry struggles to see things from their consumers’ perspectives, because they vary from their own. We have broadcast networks and cable networks. We have subscription streaming services and transactional streaming services coming through a variety of TVs and plug-in devices. These distinctions matter to those who need media consumption insights, but they don’t make a difference to the viewer. People get channels in their homes and they have no idea who is a broadcaster, who is a cable company, who has subscription streaming vs transactional streaming. And they don’t care.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that many mainstream media companies don’t really understand their new end buyer. Sure, they used to do some audience testing, but typically the buyers were not the end consumer. Now in the cable-cutting era they often are. That’s a whole new voyage of discovery that will require companies to embrace a new consumer-centric mindset.
Giving the people what they want
Consumers just want to watch what they want, when they want, on the device they want—in a frictionless way. And that’s easier said than done, as Turner found out recently with The Match. Designed to be a pay-per-view event featuring Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods golfing head-to-head, the “total audience for the match surpassed expectations across all of our platforms,” according to Turner President David Levy. The problem was the infrastructure was not ready for it.
In the minutes leading up to The Match, the company lost the ability to process payments, so Turner decided to make viewing the match free for anybody who tried to purchase it. Those who had already purchased The Match through cable providers Comcast and Spectrum were issued a full refund. “Turner had reportedly paid $10 million for the event’s broadcast rights,” according to GolfWorld.
Those are expensive teething pains for Turner, as they were learning the hard way to become a direct-to-consumer content provider.
Consumer-centric not industry-centric
The media and entertainment industry really struggles to adjust to the new customer-centric model. Their long-held industry-centric view of many companies was made abundantly clear to me by a survey I recently completed. It was from a well-known digital-first media company that was reaching out to their community members. The questions showed a very clear industry-centric point of view.
Here are a few:
Which of the following subscription streaming services do you have?
Hulu, Starz, Sling TV, HBO Go/Now, DirecTV Now, Amazon Prime Video, PlayStation Vue, CBS All Access, YouTube TV, ESPN+, Netflix, Showtime On Demand
Which of the following transactional streaming services do you have?
Microsoft Movies & TV, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Video, iTunes, Fandango Now, Sony PlayStation Movies & TV, On-demand through TV or app from your cable or satellite TV provider
There was no description of what a transactional streaming service even means.
The final question was:
Which of the following streaming media players or devices do you own?
PlayStation, Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Smart TV, Other streaming media player
Seems to me there were a few questions missing, such as:
- How familiar are you with these services?
- Do you know what they offer?
- Does the distinction between subscription and transactional matter to you?
I’d wager that the answer to all these questions would be “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
The reality is, asking people to look at the world through jargon and perspective of the the media industry simply won’t work. Not only does it NOT matter to average consumers, but it is also unnecessarily complicated.
With so many entertainment choices, the viewer decides who wins
My family is filled with media industry junkies. There are so many streaming/transactional services that basic awareness for us is a challenge, no less figuring out what that service offers. How can the entertainment media industry think consumers know the differences between these services when two industry insiders aren’t clear on them either?
These are revolutionary times in the world of media. But one thing is certain, in the end, it is the viewer who will decide who wins and who loses. Those who understand them best and make getting access to great content seamless and intuitive will win. We’d love to help you see the world through the viewers’ eyes.