Providing greater levels of personalization in multiple touch points of a user’s over the top (OTT) streaming experience, and getting it right, is the key to building user engagement, preventing viewer churn and adding new subscribers from the increasing competitive field.

That was the key take away from a webinar titled “The OTT Shuffle: Which Streaming Business Models Will Make the Cut” Wednesday that took data from a Q4-2021 Xperi /TiVo survey of 4,500 U.S. and Canadian TV viewers presented by Xperi ‘s business unit TiVo and research firm nScreenMedia, whose chief analyst and founder Colin Dixon moderated the discussion.

Source: Xperi
Source: Xperi

Christoper Ambrozic, VP of product management for Xperi’s TiVo, showed the results of the research that indicate people are more involved than ever with their home OTT video services, both subscription video on demand (SVoD) and advertising supported video on demand (AVoD). The study also showed that 26% of former cord cutters had returned to a cable, satellite or some other traditional pay TV service for a variety of reasons including the higher cost of juggling multiple monthly SVoD subscriptions relative to the cost of a traditional pay TV subscription.

“We are in a unique position in that we have direct-to-consumer offerings like TiVo offerings that are out in the field generating data, and we have ways to engage search and recommendations to other types of devices. We eat our own dog food,” Ambrozic said.

In addition to its famous DVR hardware products, TiVo offers software and operating systems for OTT streaming and traditional pay-TV set-top box platforms, and can gather anonymous viewership and advertising data through those platforms.

Source: Xperi

Within its devices TiVo has ways of monitoring what viewers are discovering, engaging in and at any given time evaluating for continuation with the service subscription.

“Give or take, around 10% of the audience is looking to make that decision [to stay or churn from a streaming service] on a monthly basis,” he said. “That’s a lot of velocity. It’s a lot of opportunity and a lot of threat. If you are the one that is currently selected, that’s a threat and if you are one looking to make your way into the market it is an opportunity.”

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According to its survey research data, he said around 13% of viewers are evaluating their bill every month and about 25% of people say they are likely to cancel a service in the next six months.

He said, “there are about 9 apps on average that people consume on a monthly basis. Give or take, four of five of those 9 are locked in. They are de facto apps that are going to stick around every month. Everybody else is fighting for three or four positions. The best news is there is a lot of dynamic happening. There is a lot of changeover. These are numbers that should give you a lot of confidence if you are a service trying to gain a foothold or expand on your current footprint, that there will be opportunities.”

In the “OTT shuffle”, as he called it, respondents offered a list or reasons why they have elected to churn from a service were comments including: “not using it enough,” “not worth the money,” and “a specific show ended.”

“The moment somebody ends a show, or ends a season, there is some really interesting data around when the show ends and that is such a critical moment. It happens maybe three or four times a month,” he said.

Among the critical factors for subscriber retention, Ambrozic said, is first and foremost: providing quality content and providing viewer engagement, the latter of which comes down to providing personalization.

He said TiVo has the ability to predict at a 70% accuracy rate within 30 days of a customer churning. The question is how do we know that and how do we take advantage of it?

“Those signals come down to viewership and engagement. When I say that I mean click activity, engagement with a User Interface, engagement with the carousels looking for content, being happily engaged when they look for content — finding that content as opposed to winding up in a ravel of not finding the content. There is a lot we can do to keep people engaged through personalization, and our passion has been that for over 10 years.”

He said that some services have libraries loaded with long-tailed content that might be of real interest and value to the viewer, but it’s not getting out in front of them at critical times because the provider doesn’t have good quality metadata associated with that content.

Explaining further, he said one thing identified as critical is engaging people early as the user is starting out or on a trial subscription with quick easy tests asking viewers if they like one time of content or another type, and then tracked people through the 7-day of 14-day process to arrive at an engagement number to determine higher retention in the first 30 days.

“Personalization has to be that thing that’s there right out of box,” he said, adding that the lifelong subscribers are those that are typically most engaged with personalization.

The service provider then has to ensure a holistic approach to personalization, meaning offering more than just one carousel of content recommended for you, including profiles, carousels that follow up and down, content that flows left and right, using voice commands and other methods that keep viewers engaging.

Other factors that go into determining how to keep viewers engaged include duartion of viewership of a program.

Source: Xperi

Another effect way to get viewers engaged in content is through old fashioned advertising for a TV program at the right moment while another TV program is viewed, providing that content is right for the person watching. TiVo, he said, is very interested in determining how to contextualize its data to help know who people are and what they like.

At the same time, trust is everything, he added. “You have to introduce these new technologies in a way that can be trusted. Some of them might be a little bit ahead of their time and it will take a bit to get people comfortable with them. But there is another element to this that underscores we have to get the basics right.”

He said often viewers simply want these new tools like search results, recommendations and voice commands to work right and they’ll love them.

Voice was introduced many years ago and it was difficult to get right to start because there are so many variable behind a simple question like, “What’s on TV to watch for me.”

Years ago people did have a lot of good voice experiences, but the technology has evolved to the point that today “voice is like a worm hole through the UI. It is so high intent. What’s that next best thing to watch they are looking for?”

He said not all voice control systems are created equal and different platforms are still evolving, but it all requires extensive testing to ensure it is working right.

Source: Xperi

“Voice is like a knife edge. You can have an incredible experience and people will fall on one side and they’ll love it and keep using it and if they have a negative experience it will go the other way,” Ambrozic said. “It’s a great way to build trust but it’s also a way to destroy it if it’s not done right.”

Discovery tech his helping to identify the real pain points viewers find with finding the right programs at the top of the list.

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By Greg Tarr

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