If viewer satisfaction isn’t your biggest goal as a pay-TV operator, it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities. That’s because when less viewers are watching television programming, there’s a significant drop in advertising rates, which is one of your main revenue sources.

In general, viewers want to be entertained, educated, and/or informed by the content they chose to view. They’re looking for content that is compelling, as well as something they can identify with on a personal level. Furthermore, research shows that television viewers are increasingly interested in video-on-demand (VOD) programming. In fact, 75 percent of U.S. households watch VOD content at least once a week, according to NBC research. Thus, operators need a good balance of VOD and linear programming.

Aside from the above criteria, what else do viewers expect while watching TV? This blog post digs deeper into the expectations of television viewers to identify three specific characteristics every operator should provide in a pay-TV service.

Content Needs to be Available on Every Screen

Television viewers are no longer looking for the traditional lean-back living room experience. They want to be able to watch content on a wide range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs. More specifically, viewers have a desire to watch content via the Internet. Adobe research found that total TV viewing over the Internet grew by 388 percent in mid-2014 compared with the same time a year earlier.

Television viewers are also using connected devices concurrently with the big screen. According to a recent Accenture study, up to 68 percent of television watchers are also using their phone while they watch TV. Forty-nine percent of viewers use the Internet or an app to look up information about the content they’re watching.

But let’s rewind. Why do viewers have this burning desire for content on every screen? The truth is viewers want an interactive TV experience.  The amount of interaction is likely to vary based on the individual, the type of programming being watched, and even the time of day. In addition, viewers want control over when and how they’re watching TV. In the past, programs were slated for a certain day and time, and if a viewer missed that window, there wasn’t a way to see the program. These days, viewers expect to watch TV programming when it’s convenient for them. Operators can satiate these expectations by providing recording comprehensive options, repetitive broadcasting, on-demand content, etc., on every screen.

Personalization + Multiscreen = the Holy Grail

Providing the exact same content to every viewer isn’t going to work nowadays. Viewers like content that is personalized to match their unique interests, habits, etc. According to Parks Associates, 41 percent of U.S. broadband households receivepersonalized video viewing recommendations from at least one source, with online video services Netflix and Hulu being the most common.

Viewers Want to Interact on Social Media While Watching TV

Nielsen reports that television viewers enjoy programming more when social media is involved.   A recent study found that 25 percent of TV viewers were more aware of TV programs due to their social media interactions in a year-over-year comparison, with 15 percent of viewers saying they enjoyed watching television more when social media was involved. 

Making social media a part of the television experience is important because it meets viewers’ expectations for interactivity. Through social media, viewers can interact with each other, find out more information about a program they’re interested in, and even follow actors and actresses.

Some content providers are already paying heed to the power of social media.Gannett Broadcasting recently announced that it will soon enable viewers to interact with celebrities on talk shows and game shows via social media on their smartphones and tablets.

What Now?

The viewers have spoken: they like a television service that offers multiscreen capabilities, personalized content and recommendations, as well as social media and interactivity.

So if you’re not offering content on every screen, now’s the time to adopt a multiscreen content strategy, especially if you want to be competitive with the 58 percent of service providers that are already supporting tablets, PCs, laptops, and smartphones.

As far as personalization goes, automated content recognition (ACR) technologies will be critical toward helping pay-TV operators personalize content and the viewing experience for their customers NextMarket Insights estimates that ACR technology will be available on 2.5 billion devices by 2017, allowing for better synchronization with multi-devices and enriched viewer experience.

Finally, pay-TV operators need to offer social media and interactivity throughout the entire television experience. This can be achieved through real-time polls, sports stats, hash tags, and more.

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