TVGuide.com Study Charts the Rise of Co-Viewing
A household with members watching different shows isn't new. What is new is that, thanks to mobile devices, they're now watching different shows in the same room.
Speaking at a red carpet interview during the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, Brandon DiMassa, senior vice president for business development at TV Guide Digital, explained the surprising findings of a recent TVGuide.com study.
"Almost 50 percent of our users are telling us that they're doing something what is now being called co-viewing. There's one person who has a remote control watching television, another person with a different device in the room streaming something else on their iPad, their iPhone," said DiMassa. "That's a pretty significant shift from a couple of years ago where some of that just wasn't possible and this is creating a new dynamic, something that content creators have to think about, and also for us creating an opportunity to create a product that actually gives you guidance to that- kind of that co-view device, if you will."
The TVGuide.com study looked at what attributes viewers liked and didn't like in a second-screen app. Surprisingly, social features scored poorly.
"Attributes like cool, how do I connect with my friends ranked much lower. So not to say that those things are unimportant, but there's a pretty big discrepancy in terms of trustworthiness, and when people want to make a decision on how they're going to spend their time on an app that is the most important to them, as opposed to some of the bells and whistles that some of the other apps are associated with," DiMassa explained.
For more study results, watch the video below.
Troy: Hi, everyone. This is Troy Dreier, senior associate editor for Streaming Media.com coming to you from the red carpet from Streaming Media West in Los Angeles. Joining me today was our first-day keynoter, Brandon DiMassa of TV Guide. Brandon was a surprise keynoter due to Hurricane Sandy. We had little problems but TV Guide was already doing a major presentation at the show and was very happy to do it a little bit earlier so that they became the first-day keynoter. Welcome, Brandon. Introduce yourself to the audience.
Brandon: Sure. My name is Brandon. I run business development for TVGuide.com and TV Guide Mobile, which basically means I do a number of things from managing all our partnerships with video providers, data providers, e-commerce solutions, and most recently working hard on our most recent app development re-launch in August across IOS.
Troy: Very good. Now I'd like jump into a little bit to the results that you talked about in your keynote. You guys did a study, right, and tell me what you were looking at and about the sort of likes and dislikes that came up in your results.
Brandon: Sure. So we really want to find out from our users and across the country what were the most important attributes when they're looking across TV sites and TV apps particularly on the social TV side, and one of the things that we discovered was attributes like high quality, trustworthy. These attributes actually scored the highest amongst all of them well above things like cool and unique and actually kind of how do I connect with my friends, so that was a bit surprising to us that the discrepancy was actually that wide for those attributes.
Troy: Give me an example of some popular sites or apps that you're looking at just to help people understand what you were studying.
Brandon: Sure. Well, we looked- if you look at- on web sites we looked at things like portals, Yahoo TV, MSN, Zap2it, some of the TV portals and TV sites that most people are familiar with, and on the mobile side there are some startups like Fanhattan and things of that nature that we know a lot of people are using and kind of compete with our site and our apps. So we've had a long look across both of those platforms to really see what people found the most interesting and also where we fit in across those attributes.
Troy: Were you looking at apps and sites that allowed people to view video on them or that directed them to broadcast experiences they might like?
Brandon: A little bit of both. I think for the most part we were looking at apps like ours that- and to be sort of a discovery and launching point into other services where you can actually consume the content so we wanted to get a good breadth of sites and apps to really measure ourselves against. So TV Guide actually scored first or second place across those key attributes, trustworthy, high quality. Our brand has always been something that we've relied on and have leveraged. It's a 60-year-old brand but I think the most interesting thing if you look across mobile that with all the explosion of apps across audio- apps that allow you to check in, that have audio-synced content, check-in apps, there's a whole ecosystem of these types of apps, there are so many of them ours really stands out in particular because of its- because of our brand, because we do focus on a couple of key things that our users are really looking for, and that really allows us to stand out. We become sort of a check-the-box standard app that people are going to download when they buy an iPhone, when they buy a tablet, and that really is to kind of help us in the space a lot.
Troy: You're really caught up in the changing role of TV, right, about how it's no longer just a lean-back experience, now it's second stream people are watching at the same time- watching the second stream while they're watching something else, and you said something very interesting in your keynote, that you will have people enjoying different shows in the same room at the same time.
Brandon: That's right. Almost 50 percent of our users are telling us that they're doing something what is now being called co-viewing. There's one person who has a remote control watching television, another person with a different device in the room streaming something else on their iPad, their iPhone. That's a pretty significant shift from a couple of years ago where some of that just wasn't possible and this is creating a new dynamic, something that content creators have to think about, and also for us creating an opportunity to create a product that actually gives you guidance to that- kind of that co-view device if you will. So the products that we've created, our Watch This product, our new apps, they're all designed that if I'm sitting there holding my iPhone on the couch or my iPad it helps me figure out sort of what I want to immerse myself into, what can I launch into going into Hulu Plus, into iTunes, into HBO Go. We're going to help you find the shows on those platforms and we've done the deals to get integrated with those various apps.
Troy: Let's jump into the results of your study, the things that got liked, the things that got disliked. We'll call them the cheers and the jeers so what got cheers?
Brandon: For the most part, some of those more abstract things like trustworthy, high quality. Those were the things that users said are the most important to them. When they're looking across these dozens and dozens of choices those are the ones that sort of the 80 to 85 percent clip that said that they were looking for the most. And then on the flip side -
Brandon: Yeah. On the flip side, attributes like cool, how do I connect with my friends ranked much lower so not to say that those things are unimportant but they just- there's a pretty big discrepancy in terms of trustworthiness, what- and when people want to make a decision on how they're going to spend their time on an app that is the most important to them as opposed to some of the bells and whistles that some of the other apps are associated with.
Troy: It was kind of a shock to me because when a new app comes out they're always emphasizing social as if everybody's clamoring to tell their friends what they're watching at that moment and that everybody wants to exchange tweets with their friends while watching the show. Then you found that that's not the most important thing to people.
Brandon: That's correct. One of the issues that some of these startups have that do focus on social is that there's no scale so that you get on to one of these startups and you find that there's not many friends that you can connect with on that particular app so it's something you try and then you sort of put aside. With our app we have scale. We had eight million downloads, almost two million active users. It's something that people can come to and a lot of people are using and sort of embracing so that's an issue that- that's an advantage that we have again with our brand, with our history and with our scale on the dot com side. We're a very, very familiar company to them and one people are kind of willing to take a chance and invest some time in. Startups while they can afford and- to build some glitzy apps, and then there are some great apps out there, they just have the disadvantage of not having the scale because they're just right out of the gate with their product.
Troy: We're in L.A. There are a lot of content people, a lot of studios who were at your keynote. What was what you hope would be the takeaway for them from your study? What can the studios learn from it?
Brandon: I think the key thing here is that--and this was sort of the headline of our presentation--is that TV is- really has changed forever. Some of the viewing habits that we're seeing directly based on feedback from our panel is that they're really changing the way they're discovering content. While it's no longer about these shows are debuting on this day at eight o'clock and that's still a part of it but there's a whole another part that shows people are discovering content through these streaming choices. One of the key stats we showed is that 56 percent of people are discovering shows after they've aired halfway through the season or sometimes even two or three seasons after the show first premieres. So that changes really perception of how when a producer creates a show and it needs to be successful in terms- from a rating standpoint on the air you also have to look at well, how is that show going to perform in the years to come and how are they going to be discovered on these new platforms whether they're streaming or over the top. That to me is really one of the most significant changes and pieces of feedback we're seeing from our own internal panel.
Troy: Thank you so much for joining me, Brandon. It was a really great keynote, a lot of great findings, and I learned a lot from it. So coming to you from the red carpet this is Troy Dreier.
At Streaming Media West, TV Guide discusses the company's strategy for helping viewers find what to watch in an increasingly fragmented video world
Free service combines broadcast, pay TV, and online viewing choices, as well as social features.