Has COVID-19 made the movie night dilemma even harder?

Even as service providers continue to roll out new direct-to-consumer offerings with more options to personalise the viewing experience, potential complexities are only set to increase.

Has COVID-19 made the movie night dilemma even harder?

Friday July 17, 2020,

5 min Read

movie night

It's 6.30 pm on a Friday, and COVID-19 has you staying in with the family for movie night. You agree on what snacks you’ll have and wait for the popcorn to finish popping. And that’s when the dreaded question is asked: who’s picking the movie?

Does this sound familiar?

With multiple over-the-top (OTT) apps and tons of content, the process seems to last longer than an episode of Narcos: Mexico. Inevitably, everyone gives up and takes out their personal devices instead. And you're left watching Rambo: First Blood – for the tenth time.

Shouldn't the self-proclaimed new golden age of television, filled with endless choices, lend itself to a better experience? Yet the reality is that even as service providers continue to roll out new direct-to-consumer offerings, together with more options to personalise the viewing experience, the potential complexities are only set to increase.

To solve this, we must enable tools that allow consumers to simplify their digital lives, as well as their unique – and family-inclusive – interests within a single ecosystem. This will become especially important as consumers manage new digital experiences they started using during COVID-19 along with past ones.

Subscription frustration is real

It's becoming clear that our digital and physical lives are increasingly merging, with almost everything revolving around our connected devices.

And as we see an increasing focus on entertainment subscription services or one-off payments through apps like Uber, it's becoming more and more difficult for consumers to manage it all.

According to research conducted by Ovum on behalf of Amdocs, 44 percent Indian respondents said bundling media services with their telecom plan was the main reason they were willing to spend more on their mobile and fixed broadband bills.

Forty seven percent said access to such a service made them less likely to change providers, while 30 percent said they might switch in the absence of bundled offers by their current provider. There is an opportunity here.

The key to a single ecosystem approach

The most critical aspect of a “single ecosystem” is that it be tuned to the consumers' lifecycle. This is no longer restricted to supporting just one device, location, subscription service, or payment mechanism. It also extends to ensuring the single ecosystem and consumer lifecycle remain in sync.

This needs us to provide consumers the ability to safely and easily explore, evaluate, and subscribe to OTT apps while enabling full visibility and control over their spend. It also requires us to provide a user experience that allows consumers to perform searches across every subscription – not only one.

When it comes to actual content, rather than an endless stream of app options, consumers want is a selection of choices explicitly tailored to them. To do this, we can build taste profiles that leverage machine learning on metadata and consumption behaviour.

Such models must go beyond merely providing recommendations based on what consumers previously watched. They must also consider factors from their everyday lives, such as when they are most likely to engage and why, or whether specific content should be avoided on a particular day.

Be prepared for new monetisation models

While the market continuously evolves with the introduction of new offerings, so does the way customers pay to access them. According to our commissioned research, 70 percent of surveyed consumers in India would share personal data and accept targeted ads in exchange for a discounted or free service.

Further, 69 percent of Indians would pay one-time passes for specific content, or short-term access to content, to avoid paying a full subscription.

Whatever solutions come to market must support the yet-to-be-offered business models of OTT providers. Who's to say a subscription-only provider today doesn't become an ad-supported player tomorrow or a bit of both?

Consumers won't be fooled twice

Many content providers have been providing free trials of their offerings during COVID-19, and consumers are open to trying them. And when it comes to subscriptions, it's not just about managing those to which consumers already subscribe, but also about those they're trying out.

For example, cord-cutters may have to purchase access to live TV events from time to time. But before they know it, one-off sign-ups start to automatically renew without them realising it, causing a poor experience all around.

Without user-friendly ways to manage these trial subscriptions, consumers are likely to try a service once – and only once.

Simplification is key

Subscription services and OTT content were designed to make things easier for consumers, and we need to ensure they’re not making things more complex.

Digital lifecycle management, coupled with flexible access, revenue sharing opportunities and partnerships, will therefore become increasingly vital to make sense of it all. In this very competitive landscape, players who realise this and act now will win.

And then, maybe movie night will be a little easier.

Edited by Teja Lele

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)