Where's Waldo? Or more aptly, where's the content i want to watch, when i want to watch it? As the number of options for consuming TV content continues to expand, the ability to find the programs we want is like Waldo - sometimes you just get lucky. While Pay TV operators tweak their electronic program guides to make it easier for subscribers to find content, that content is limited to the library for which they have obtained licenses. Nor do these outdated EPG's reflect the on-demand availability of the Pay TV Operator's linear content. Netflix, who has raised the bar for content discovery and recommendations, still only facilitates search for content provided by their service.
Content Discovery is a burning issue for both TV content providers and subscribers. It can single handedly drive subscriber acquisition and subscriber engagement while reducing churn (that ugly term for loss of subscribers). The importance of content discovery is reflected by the rise in merger & acquisition activity in 2016. Ericsson acquired FYI Television, the premier entertainment metadata and rich media content supplier, in January. Rovi, provider of cloud-based TV analytics & metadata, announced it's acquisition of Tivo in April. This acquisition is much about Tivo's knowing what subscribers are watching as its about Tivo's ownership of DigitalSmiths, a cloud-based provider of content discovery solutions.
These acquisitions follow ComScore's acquisition of Rentrak last fall, which signaled the importance of digital audience measurement. Understanding a subscriber's intent is the foundation for providing targeted advertising and personalized content recommendations. Whether it is Pay TV Operators (e.g., Comcast, Verizon, Dish), OTT providers (e.g., Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) or streaming sticks (e.g., Chromecast, Roku, AppleTV), leveraging content metadata is the key content monetization. Analysis of content discovery, recommendation and consumption provides insight driving advertising, EPG layout, content licensing, marketing programs and business models.
There is no holistic content discovery solution today. For subscribers, access to a universal listing is highly appealing, however the reality is likely years away due to exclusive content licensing deals. However, the power of the subscriber should not be under estimated. As the TV continues to evolve with Pay TV Operators adding OTT channels or cord-cutters choosing to consumer content via alternate channels, content discovery will be at the heart of the evolution. The providers that win will be those that can improve the subscriber experience and help them find Waldo.
What's your perspective?