Two key UK broadcasters recently changed the TV experience game: ITV (the biggest commercial broadcaster) launched the ITV Hub; and SKY announced Q,their response to Netflix and others by offering an online seamless screen-to-screen service via set top box. In my own recent travels, I have seen a few clear examples of how other industries are adapting smartly to their own digital disruption, which may point to why products are shifting to so called fluid viewing.
In Mumbai, like in many cities, there is a great Uber / taxi debate. Here, female safety is a massive concern. The response is to launch an app, which allows friends to track you and a single button emergency access to police. A smart, simple solution for a customer experience issue, but one never before offered by the incumbent taxi players.
On Australian domestic flights there is the Qantas in-flight app and the Virgin in-flight app, both offering entertainment on your own device. With in-flight Wi-Fi starting to take off with some airlines, a good flight experience will soon have nothing to do with the journey time or snack, just simply did we have a great entertainment experience gate to gate and how we measure their capabilities as a high flying ISP.
Finally, at a recent education forum, UTS (University of Technology Sydney) showed how they provide suits on campus for students to borrow to create instant professional LinkedIn profiles. At the same forum, academics posed the question whether students should be able to binge learn like they binge watch with Netflix.
As shown by these examples many industries are dramatically recreating the customer experience wrapper that is surrounding their core service.
In the world of media and entertainment, we are not immune. The discussion of customer journeys, segmentation and experience was something product and marketing managers did in food production companies, supermarket chains or banks: it was certainly nothing to do with TV. It was simple; you had the best shows, you promoted them well, and advertisers bought them and viewers watched them. No need for fancy customer journey-mapping.
With the recent flurry of video streaming services from Seven, Nine and Telstra TV along with Optus winning the EPL sports rights, I thought a bit of crystal ball gazing could highlight the future potential of the industry as we seek to adapt to our own digital disruption.
In a world of customer-centric services, what might the minimum customer expectations for TV providers be in the near future?
TV Whatever – my simple customer expectation will be that if it has been produced and released to the public, then I will expect to have access to it. As long as I can get that show and watch it how I want to, then I am also likely to pay a price to see it, making piracy a thing of the past. I will also expect to be able to access any video clip, movie or TV show that has ever been produced. I will expect to instantly find a piece of content and view it, either for free, via subscription or for some value based payment, just like I can with anything else that exists in digital format.
TV Whenever – viewers understand that TV shows and movies have a production cycle and are then released at a certain time and date, which is true whether it is live sport or news, the latest blockbuster movie or a fresh episode of a series. Until now, the TV business has been able to control this very carefully. Soon they won’t be able to. Once a show is released or a sporting event starts, viewers will expect to access it instantly, and instantly will mean instantly. Once a show is released on a schedule then we will expect to watch it straight away. The days of making content available via on demand an hour - or more - after the show has finished, will not be enough to meet customer expectations.
TV Wherever – viewers will expect to watch their shows anywhere in the world. If I want to watch my local news show or enjoy my favourite sports live, I will expect to be able to do that anywhere in the world. Why should my current location impact access at all. If I pay, I expect global access and with today's advertising model I expect ads appropriate to me, wherever I am.
TV on any screen – Currently we still think of devices as designed to offer different experiences in viewing content. In the future we may just see a screen in terms of size and sound experience. I can expect to start watching a movie on my screen in the lounge room, continue on the train on my tablet and then finish watching on my friend’s screen at their house. A seamless experience will become the expectation, with the ability to dip in and out of my content whether I am at home, travelling at 30,000 feet or watching on the screen in my hotel room; surely that is my choice.
TV for me – to create my personalised viewing experience will involve providers understanding me a great deal. Can I access what my friends recommend; can I watch in a curated linear channel fashion, binge watch a series or search out shows by a favourite actor? This personalisation will require strong data and analytics about my habits, my desires and me. If I want to avoid the score on a football final my service may be smart enough to prevent me watching the result in the sports news before I watch the whole game. With advertising, if I can see the messages that are relevant to me personally, then I will happily swap my time for access to the free content I want to enjoy.
Best pricing for me – the internet has given us access to comparative pricing tools that were impossible to imagine even a decade ago. Why would TV be any different? As a viewer I will be looking for the best pricing for my viewing habits . Subscription, sponsored, bundling and free will all have their place in the market. Online tools will instantly let me know whether a show I want is available via one of my subscriptions, and if not, the best pricing options to buy or rent.
Delivering these consumer-centric experiences is no easy task and requires that significant hurdles be overcome in technology, licensing, commercials, and customer and advertiser centricity.
It will be an exciting time for those who take up the challenge to adapt rapidly but could be the start of the end for those that hesitate too long.
The creativity and pride in the TV industry means that if taxis, education and airlines can all meet the customer experience challenge, then TV certainly can create a fluid TV experience that we will all love!