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How to Improve OTT Search & Discovery

Watch the complete panel from Streaming Media East Connect, "Is Too Much Choice No Choice at All?" on the Streaming Media YouTube channel.

Learn more about OTT and piracy at Streaming Media West 2020.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Matt Rivet: Why do you think that search and discovery is just so hard?

Randa Minkarah: It depends on who you're in the room with. It really has a big effect. If you're there alone, it's simpler. The more people in the room, the harder it is to come to a decision. Does mood matter? Does time of day matter? Yes. I think they're all factors, but I think the biggest factor is how many folks are in the room and how many services you have. And I think there's going to be natural stratification based on how the families or households look at what the content is. So Disney is perfect for kids, right? You can keep watching the same stuff over and over. I love doing that. I've watched Monsters Inc. And Shrek countless times. And so that's one way of helping stratify.

And then when you think about movies, HBO Max by far and away has the most movies, but Netflix has that long, deep library. And so you start to have the conversation around what it is you want to find, and that's how curation is largely happening today. It's too hard to search.

Sherry Brennan: This is an opportunity for the sort of aggregator platforms I was talking about earlier to be able to offer cross-service search and discovery. Right now you have to go into a service and then that service has its own recommendation engine, which may or may not be great. It doesn't know, to Randa's point, whether you're by yourself or with other people. It just knows what you've watched before with whatever account login you're using. So I actually think that there's a lot of improvements that could be made to recommendation engines to get a little more sophisticated.

I sympathize with them, because they don't have a way to know who's in the room unless you tell them. That makes their job harder. But maybe there's a way that they can offer "recommended for Sherry only" or "recommended for Sherry and her son." I think there's work to be done there, and I do think this idea of a cross-service search and discovery through an aggregation platform is a good idea. And we'll also introduce people to new services they might not have heard of before, because it will be, "You watched this on Netflix, you might like this on BritBox," or something like that. I think there's a lot of opportunity there.

Randa Minkarah: It's literally what Sherry said. You have to go in and out of the app and then hope that you're being shown what makes sense for you. And the thing is, the less you use the app, the worse the recommendation becomes. So Netflix, for instance, has done a good job of at least saying "Who's in the room, whose account, and who am I watching this with?" But over time I've only watched one particular genre on Netflix. So that's all they show me. So I don't want to know that. I want to understand, based on a broader view of my likes and interests in my household, what is it I really want to see? That's true curation. And I do think that within the apps themselves, there's a great deal of improvement that can be done, studying really deeply and closely the analytics around what is happening with confidence so that you can start to assign different genres.

So it's not just going to be crime. What kind of crime? The more metadata that you can add, define your show to the nth degree, literally will allow for greater audience segmentation and then finally better recommendations, which is everyone's dream that every service wants people to spend more time with their content. And that's the way to get there. 

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