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How to Improve UX for FAST and OTT

What are the best ways to improve the OTT user experience, especially for FAST platforms? Four industry experts weigh in on specific areas that could use some improvement and streamlining in order to improve the overall UX for OTT subscribers in terms of both targeted advertising and programming.

Cameron Saless, Chief Business Officer, Trusted Media Brands, emphasizes a long overdue need for improvement for Electronic Programming Guides (EPGs) “Certainly, grouping channels within genres is helpful,” Saless says. “But I think the number one issue right now is just getting to the EPG on a lot of these TV setups. We've launched across most of the major television Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and I'd say very, very few of them have figured out how to get people into the service itself. It's the most basic thing, but it's the most difficult thing. And so it starts with that. If it takes seven clicks to get into the EPG, there's going to be a huge problem for everybody.” He notes that while he is not a UX expert himself, it is obvious to him that two major points for improvement should be how to get users to discover a service on their TV in the first place, and once there, how to get them to start watching the content immediately. “I feel like a lot of what I see in terms of user experience is very clunky right now,” he says. “And it's to the detriment of everybody, including the platform folks.”

Jonathon Barbato, Co-CEO, Best Ever Channels, agrees, and he highlights that audience acquisition must be supplemented by improving UX through better interactivity. “I spent many years as a digital agency before starting Best Ever Channels with my partner, and audience acquisition was always prime,” he says. “I always think in terms of how can I get an audience here and how can I get the audience to do the work? We're developing a companion app, [but] until the EPGs catch up, until the technology is there on your television set, how can I create live chats and interaction?” Barbato cites a specific show that Best Ever Channels hosts on one of their channels. “We have a show for Witz called The Riff, where the audience actually gives the comedian subjects to riff about. And that's been done, not live, but live makes a whole lot more sense. How can I do that? With a companion app in the meanwhile, while we're waiting for the sets to catch up. And I think as soon as the audience starts using these tools, then you'll see the innovative platforms starting to integrate them. But we've got to get the audience used to it. And that can always take a little bit longer than we think.”

Magnus Svensson, Media Solution Specialist, Eyevinn Technology, Sweden, says, “I think that ties into a question from one of our anonymous attendees…how can we differentiate a FAST channel from traditional ad-supported linear channels? At the moment…most of the cases [are] very similar, but how can we make them a little bit [spicier], a little bit more lean-in?” He asks Marisa Elizondo, VP, Senior Director Content Strategy & Acquisition, fuboTV, about her thoughts on this topic.

Elizondo says that the approach fuboTV is taking is one of finding ways to “drive discoverability” for their users in order to best serve their tastes. She says that on the fuboTV homepage, every user’s experience is ideally different based on their own viewing history. “We set up our UI in carousels, and we have some of those that are static,” she says. “But what ‘Dan’ sees for recommendations would be very different than what I see. And that's what's based on his own proprietary viewership as well as what we think, ‘hey, he's watched this show, and we think he would like this show.’ So we are using that to try to drive discoverability and create that personalized experience so that not everybody is getting the same force-fed content across the board.”

Learn more about UX for FAST and OTT at Streaming Media West 2022.

Watch full-session videos from Streaming Media Connect 2022.

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