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Google and Paramount at IBC 2022: Use Data for Personalization, Storytelling, and Customer Retention

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A frequently used saying a few years ago was "data is the oil." Perhaps in these times oil is the new oil but data is worth its weight in gold to digital service providers who can mine it effectively. 

Power that data extraction with AI and ML and it will drive personalised content recommendations, and improved search and discovery to help differentiate a service and stem churn. 

This was a major topic across the IBC showfloor in Amsterdam this week. 

“We are hyper-tailoring the experience to the individual level,” Paramount CPO Robert Gelick told IBC. “The discovery experience is essential to make sure people coming in are exposed to something unique. It’s not just the content. People are also looking for next-level responsiveness and reliability as part of the product experience.” 

Paramount+ now has 43.3 million paid customers, a net add of 3.7 million for the last quarter and will be in 60 markets by the end of 2022. It is powered by GCP.  

“Every executive is talking with their boards right now about driving deeper customer understanding consumer engagement,” said Anil Jain, MD of Media & Entertainment, Google Cloud. “There is a vast array of content available to consumers. The big problem is that it is harder to find. The reality is that consumers have infinitely more power than the media companies that provide content.” 

Paramount's Gelick and Google's Jain

Paramount's Gelick and Google's Jain

Paramount’s FAST platform, Pluto TV, programmes 1,000 different channels across all markets. Could Gelick envisage a time when its customers have individually tailored channels? “To some degree that future is here today,” he said. “Some of that is directly based on a user stating what they want, some on sophisticated ML models to surface the right content.” 

Warner.Bros Discovery Sports is intent on further enriching the fan experience with data-led storytelling. This means being closer than ever to an athlete before they compete and directly after they compete.  

“We don’t want to have our audience at the back of the grandstand but right next to where the competition is,” Scott Young, SVP Content and Production (Europe) said. “Some audiences want to understand the sport in a deeper way, for example, to understand how a figure skater needs to perfectly land. We are doing that in the Cube today.” 

The Cube is the broadcaster’s AR studio environment and uses copious amounts of live data from the Hawk-eye tracking system in operation at Tennis majors. Young explained that the company intends to evolve data-led storytelling by curating individual feeds with data in the live stream. “I’m nervous of populating the live feed with extraneous data and graphics but if we can give viewers the option for how much data they want I think they would love that.” 

He added, “You can call it the Metaverse if you like. For us, it’s all about having the fan feel like they are there.” 

The proliferation of apps and fragmentation of the content ecosystem is a double-edged sword for broadcasters, a panel of media tech leaders told IBC. On the one hand they spy an opportunity to bundle content, apps and experiences under one roof for a better consumer experience. On the other, consumers simply want more – of everything. 

“The proliferation of OTT translates into very difficult time for the consumer,” said Dana Filip-Crandal, EVP and COO, Sky Germany. “It is difficult to find content and it has become significantly more expensive. It does mean service providers like ourselves have a chance to create a brilliantly easy aggregation experience.” 

Canadian telco TELUS is focused on reaching "every device, everywhere, every time." 

Tim Fell, VP, Future Friendly Technology Services, said, “I see the need for blended experiences on screens and in places like cars. We see people in hockey stadiums watching the game live and live action of the same game on their phone.” 

Brazil’s Globo is known as a powerhouse of content making original drama and owning the biggest sports rights. “It’s not enough,” said CTO Raymundo Barros. “Consumers also want experiences. But the connected TV space is very fragmented. We need to invest in building 2000 versions to handle different devices and apps. It’s extremely difficult to give a consistent experience across this environment - but we have no choice.” 

On the plus side, Barros said Globo is driving OTT and OTA experiences with data. “We have 130 million Brazilians who share their data with us. Getting to know each one is what will drive us for the next 50 years.” 

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