How to Ease Consumer Confusion in OTT
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Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: I'm wondering about about dealing with consumer confusion that comes along with these multiple models within the same service where consumers don't necessarily know, when they open a particular service, what they're going to get, when they're going to be asked for money, when they're not. How do you deal with keeping your messaging consistent and clear to consumers? And maybe Sara, since you look at all of these services, you have some thoughts on that as well.
Sara Fischer: I think consumers are overwhelmed and confused. There are a lot of options and they all cost different amounts and consumers have limited budgets. And especially now, with some of these smart TV interfaces and with hardware devices like Roku or Amazon FireTV Stick, Google Chromecast, it's so easy to just sign up and click and access something for a free trial. And then it gets added to your bill. That my biggest concern. While there is tremendous choice, we haven't figured out a system that makes it easy to discover and navigate.
There have been a few new products that I think are starting to solve that problem. And they're going to be the future. I think Xfinity X1 is one of the most dynamic platforms. That's the platform from Comcast, which is, as Mark had mentioned, the parent to NBC Universal and Fandango. It lumps a consumer's subscription platform subscriptions all together so that they can discover all the titles across them and that they can easily navigate them. Especially, also, through some sort of a billing structure. I think that's the next big forefront: How do we make this easy for consumers? Because I think what we've come across in this panel is the innovations. They're the choices there. The scale is there, but what we want to do is make this easy, not overwhelming, for consumers.
Mark Young: I would just add that the term that we talk about more from a business perspective is entitlement. Consumers want to know, "What am I able to watch that I'm already subscribed to, but what do I have to pay for what's for free?" I think MVPDs X1 are doing a good job. There are some independent companies as well from a Rotten Tomatoes perspective. We're also trying to help consumers. When you come to our destinations on Rotten Tomatoes, we have curated lists. We also have linkouts, like, "Is this a title that's available to you on Netflix?" We try to be discreet if it is. If it's not, then you have other alternatives to pay for it. But we also want to make sure that we're looking at the user journeys of our consumers when they're on our platform, we also want to recognize: Did they go out to see a movie last weekend? And perhaps it's not time to message them to go see a movie this weekend out of the home, but in the home, from a programming and from a marketing perspective, that's the next level of discovery to personalization that I think the industry needs to get to.
Mike Gamboa: And I think this is actually something that we take for granted. We live and breathe this stuff, but if you look at someone like an Amazon Prime or even an Apple TV, within Amazon there's content, that's available for free. If you're a Prime subscriber, there's transactional content, there's VOD. And then there are embedded channel services like HBO, Showtime, and Starz within Amazon. And so if you're a consumer who doesn't live and breathe this stuff, it is very confusing, in terms of, "What do I get what's for free? What do I need to pay for on a transactional basis versus subscription?"
I think the amount of times I've had to tell my mom that she signed up for HBO within Amazon, but she's going to the HBO app on Roku and she can't access it there, it's like, "No, you need to go to Amazon and then find HBO within Amazon." It's extremely confusing. So it's the one thing that I think is a big challenge for the industry, helping consumers understand what's available. What's not available in what business model and how to access it.
Mark Young: For those of us who've been around for a while, we look at it as the great re-unbundling to the great rebundling. It's just going to be different players. Some old players will make it and some won't, but this notion of a single sign-on that I have entitlements in an environment that knows my payment preference that has my history of my consumption. It's difficult in this environment where it's very fragmented. And I think consumers are starting to show that they need more of a "One View" of their household.
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