Investing in Content Discovery

Jason Flick
Jason Flick CEO and Co-Founder
Jason Flick Mainstream content discovery video thumbnail

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The coverage surrounding the “streaming wars” has made it clear that a strong library of content is what determines success. Services are spending 10s of billions on content libraries and then billions more each year adding to them. The better the content, the more users you attract…

But is there a sweet spot?

1,000 titles, 10,000 titles. There is no denying content is the hook, but the role it plays in sustaining users and slowing churn of service is not so clear. You could have the greatest library of content but if users aren’t discovering titles they love, why spend all that money, time, and energy? Once a solid content library is in place, providing viewers with a stronger experience and better methods of discovery will be the better next investment.

Psychologist Berry Schwartz has famously spoken about a phenomenon called the Paradox of Choice. It’s the idea that having too many choices causes paralysis in decision-making. Too many options for cereal in a grocery store. Too many options on a restaurant menu. Too many thumbnails to scroll through in a streaming app. Consumers cannot make a decision, they get frustrated or anxious, and settle on a lesser choice or leave the situation entirely.

If content is king then there are a lot of crowns out there.

So what are the key tactics to boost discovery and reduce churn?

Let Your Content Breathe

Don’t pack all your thumbnails into one area. Establish a visual hierarchy. Implement whitespace so the options are easier to scan and digest. Use animations and micro-interactions to guide the eye.

Limiting the number of items on a page might seem counterintuitive but it’s less taxing on the brain and can lead to better decision-making.

Don’t Release all of Your Shows for Binge-Watching

Use episode launches to invite users back into your app and be sure you facilitate that re-discovery. On a 10 foot (TV) platform, jump right to that episode with autoplay once users launch the app. Create events around a new episode drop. Promote release dates. Ask users if they want to set reminders, or even think about what a next-gen EPG could be for your users. And once they’ve completed a new episode, then introduce another similar show or drop them into additional content so they can immerse themselves further into the content. This could also be a moment for social engagement. Introduce features that can trigger an event for other users to join in for a viewing party.

In my last episode, I touched on the importance of co-viewing paradigms built into streaming apps.

Discover content based on mood

Genres are one thing but diving deeper into how the user is feeling can open up opportunities for discovery. This can be as simple as knowing them and the time of day. Ask questions to help provide better recommendations. If someone just got home from work, maybe there’s an option to search “post-work” stress relievers. If you’re cooking, there should be an option to throw something on in the background.

Continue to evolve your UX

Last but certainly not least. Continue to evolve your UX. Try different things. As the UX changes, users become more engaged in your brand. But, do so slowly. Rewrites, even if much improved can frustrate users as they tend to like what they already know. But consistency doesn’t mean you leave your app experience the same.

If you really want a hook, delight your users, surprise them even. Have a look at how Fortnite engages their users. Online MMO Video game companies in general have nailed this. The games change regularly even if to just embrace holidays right in the UI.

Content may be king but much like pieces on a chessboard, the king needs other pieces to win. On its own, content can only do so much. But, investing in innovative features, branding, and UX can help make your service a treasure trove for discovery rather than just another app with “nothing to watch.”

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