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Giving Users Control in Streaming App Design

How important is it for streaming users and viewers to be able to customize, personalize, and curate their experiences with streaming apps? And what are product designers doing to facilitate those types of experiences? Nadine Krefetz, Consultant, Reality Software, Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, discusses this topic with Esther Ahn, Head of User Experience, YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels, James Lauzun, Chief Product Officer, MagellanTV, and Tom Hurlbutt, Senior Director of Product Management, Crunchyroll, in this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2024.

Krefetz begins by mentioning that consumers now have high expectations for personalization interaction. She asks the group, “What happens when you need to create different interactive experiences? What are some of the features that have really worked for you or things that you'd like to see in others?”

Ahn says that YouTube TV’s live guide is a good example of a new way for viewers to engage with and personalize their viewing experience. She mentions that people have grown accustomed to using specific remote controls in their everyday channel surfing-oriented TV viewing, but at YouTube, they are working on ways to make the navigation experience more intuitive. “One of those was the ability to easily place the channels that you want upfront,” she says. “You can customize your channels. Another thing is being able to show relevant information for a program so that you can easily decide on what to watch or surfacing up really clear curated recommendations based on what time you're watching or what the context is so that you never miss a moment. And so these are ways we're trying to reinvent how to get into live TV without just going back to past patterns, but really homing in on viewer pain points.”

Lauzun says that MagellanTV has also focused on better personalization for its viewers. “A couple of years ago, that [just meant an] AI recommendation engine, but we're hearing from our members that [now] it's the ability to have a watch list,” he says. “Our members want to really own that experience. They want to be able to create their playlists and micromanage all of their content. And that's a great level of engagement and interaction. It's something that is coming [from our] users and their desire to be a part of Magellan for more than just content. And that's what you need to be doing with your services. It's about representing a bit of yourself as the subscriber.”

Krefetz asks Hurlbutt, “What are you thinking of when you're [considering] features that are the things that people know you for, or what you just think work?”

“We have a watch list feature that we wanted to get a better understanding of from users regarding what was working well and what was not,” he says. “So we interviewed fans, and the stories they told us was that they had a very long watch list.” His team discovered that some users had developed their own systems for organizing their long watch lists. “One user talked to us about how he had subdivided the list in his mind in terms of, ‘These first five items have two things I'm actively watching now. And then these other items are kind of what I do in my free time. I've organized things by Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. By the time I get to this point, the list, these are all my rewatch.’ And it was interesting just to see these mental gymnastics our fans were just jumping through in terms of being able to try to craft the experience that they wanted but that they weren’t quite getting from our particular feature set.”

Hurlbutt says this type of user feedback prompted them to build a customizable watchlist they branded the Crunchylist. “It allows users and fans to create custom lists that they can subdivide, organize, rank, and sort to their heart's content,” he says. He emphasizes that what is most important is “this notion of ‘I want to be able to curate everything to what I want to have it be and then have that available wherever I go.’”

See videos of the full program from Streaming Media Connect February 2024 here.

We'll be back in person for Streaming Media NYC May 20-22, 2024. More details here.

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