Why the Next Evolution in TV will be ‘Discoverability’

“The definition of TV is different -- but different isn’t broken.”

TV and media execs echoed this sentiment throughout the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. But we first heard this quoted by Mark Greenberg, President and CEO of Epix, a premium entertainment network. Greenberg sat on a panel with other entertainment executives to discuss how content developers must compete with the maddening level of choices faced by consumers today.

What the group concluded was that it all comes down to mastering “discoverability.” And it turns out that what we learned is something every marketer can benefit from.

TV Choices Explode But Viewers Only Watch a Fraction

With so much change occurring in the TV space right now, it’s important to acknowledge that the average American’s thirst for entertainment is as strong as ever! (Case in point: the verb “to binge-watch” made the Oxford Dictionary shortlist for Word of the Year in 2013.)

But while there is no shortage of binge-watching going on, an increase in options has made it more difficult for consumers to discover new shows they’ll like. Similarly, marketers now have a much harder time figuring out how to spend their budgets knowing that people are consuming TV in any of 25+ different ways.

So, here’s the big lesson: Despite the fact that there are upwards of 450+ original, scripted shows on TV, and more than 1,000 primetime shows total, the average viewer only watches a fraction of those. According to Peter Minnium, President of Ipsos Connect, “any consumer, at any one time, on average watches eight to nine TV shows. So being part of that eight is important.”

The secret lies in knowing your audience and serving them content you know will get them hooked. And that, my friends, can only happen with data.  

Data In Action: “House of Cards”

One of our MOST favorite data success stories of the last 5 years is the one about how Netflix decided to invest in “House of Cards.” At the publishing of this New York Times article, the series had recently premiered its first season, which was already the most streamed piece of content in the U.S. and 40 other countries. Before making this investment back in 2010, Netflix sought to mine through their customer data and derived three facts:

  1. A healthy share of Netflix subscribers streamed the works of David Fincher, the Director for “House of Cards” -- as well as movies including “Fight Club,” and “The Social Network.”
  2. Viewers who streamed Fincher’s work tended to also stream shows and movies with Kevin Spacey casted as the lead.
  3. The original, BBC-version of “House of Cards” had a strong audience on Netflix, despite being over a decade old.
Bundle up these insights and we can understand why Netflix felt confident in making a $100 million investment for just 26 episodes.
The Power of Data and Personalization

What makes this story so great is not that we all got hooked on “House of Cards,” but that it showcases the real power of data. When utilized correctly, data empowers brands and marketers to personalize content to targeted individuals. It’s turning Big Data into Smart Data, as the saying goes.

We’re seeing more and more entertainment brands embrace this concept to deliver successful programming to their viewers. Chief Marketing Officer at Hulu, Jenny Wall, also spoke at CES and totally caught our attention when she said, “We’re focused on effortless TV done through personalization, like a Pandora thumbs down or thumbs up.”

With consumer attention at a premium these days, it’s data and personalization that will save the day for marketers looking to make a real impact among an audience.

It’s not too late to catch up on more marketer takeaways from last month’s CES 2017! Check out our live recap blogs from Day 1 and Day 2.