That is  a million dollar question. Unless if you are extremely opinionated on what you like to watch!

The internet and other rapidly evolving technologies have drastically lowered the barriers of content creation and distribution. This has resulted in an explosion of content for consumption. Content creators like Studios now compete with likes of Netflix and niche artists on YouTube channels. Users have a plethora of content to choose from & a variety of platforms to watch it on.

Content Value Chain

Trying to answer, “What’s on TV now?” has become increasingly difficult. Breaking down the content journey into a value chain can look something like below

The Content Value Chain

Industry players attempt to simplify content discovery, hoping to drive user adoption. Search & Recommendations is the holy-grail of content discovery. But, in the content value chain, every participant is active in this space. How can they drive user adoption? Are industry players willing to go beyond walled-gardens? Is any one of them better positioned than others to create enough value for the user, while capturing enough value for all participants of the value chain?

What is the goal of having a content recommendation system? Depending on where one sits in this chain, it could either be to make money or could be to boast of incredible user experience indirectly creating brand affinity.

Exploring further, I attempt to outline the players involved in the content transformation phase, figure out what their incentives are to build/buy a recommender system and how do such propositions impact their business model? Let’s start from the right extreme – the demand side. When it comes to content consumption, the end user is the king here.

The end user (Content Consumption)

A study from Digitalsmiths (Survey demographics covers North America) shows increasing difficulty in finding content that users really ‘want to watch’ (see adjoining figure here)

Complexity with content discovery

Is it easy to discovery content?

The number of programs users can find is extremely high. To make a decision on what they should watch is tedious.

An excerpt from an article states, “For pay TV operators, the challenge could be as simple as people just can’t find what they’re looking for. According to Digitalsmiths, 71% say they get frustrated because they can’t find something for the family to watch. Nearly half of pay TV customers don’t use search, saying it takes too long (20%) and is just too difficult to find (18%.)”

Users have no time to browse through the content clutter. Yet another barrier is the user experience. Depending on the type of device the user consumes video content, he expects a different kind of interaction paradigm – each suited for that device type.  (Reminds me of the famous Ted Talk from Barry Schwartz – The Paradox of Choice). So the consumer is thinking either of watching something that is popular among the masses (hence in the first handful of installed channels) or just watches a show based on word-of-mouth referral. That he has a certain taste & preference has little bearing on his viewing habits.

Who should empower this user? Is the content creator, the content aggregator or the TV device maker best placed to fulfil all objectives and deliver the punch?

More to follow, in the next post…

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