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How to Match the Streaming Experience to the User

When do users want lean-forward, hyper-engaged streaming experiences and when do they just want to lean back and be entertained? And what does the data tell us about how content and platform providers can anticipate these preferences and deliver the right experience to the right users? Byron Saltysiak, Former VP, WarnerMedia, Turner Broadcasting, Jesse Redniss, CEO & Co-Founder, Qonsent, and Pete Scott, Chief Strategy Advisor, Play Anywhere, discuss these issues in this clip from their Streaming Media East 2023 panel.

Saltysiak says, “When I'm thinking about video experiences, I think about a lean-in experience. What can you do around engaging the user in a Twitch-like stream experience or even a betting experience, something that's a little bit beyond the video itself? But there’s [also] something to be said for [the], ‘I just wanna lean-back experience,’ as well.” He then asks the panelists, “Where do you think would be the right use cases for each?”

“I think you just have to give them a choice,” Pete Scott says. “At the end of the day, if I want to make a bet on…the red zone, then if I want to get more information from Amazon X-Ray about an actor, I want that. If someone talks about a company and I want to make an investment – because I have a quick stock pick – that shows me how the company is, make it where it's opt-in. And I think you'll start to see if it's a value exchange for the consumer, and you make it easy for them to do that.”

He cites a recent experience with his daughter that demonstrated the viability of these user value exchanges. “She [was] watching old episodes of Gossip Girl, and I told her, ‘Hey, would you want to buy that dress on the show?’ She literally stops the show, turns to me, and goes, ‘Are you going to build that? And I'm like, ‘Well, why are you excited about it?’ She says, ‘I could do it on Instagram and TikTok. Why can't I do it on there?’ So I think we're training this whole sort of expectation. And again, if you want to sit back, crack open a beer and watch something, then go ahead. But I think we can create these experiences with data where it's a value change back to people.”

Jesse Redniss agrees and points out that this concept is not new, but the key now is understanding which users are the most open to interactivity. “The core concept of shoppable TV is as old as 2009 and ‘10. We built stuff like that back at the USA Network and SYFY.” He mentions that Sons of Anarchy was one of the “first shows to actually roll out a whole line of merchandise around the show characters and having interstitials that allowed you to buy that directly from the show. So I think the technology that we have today really catapults it to a whole [new] level of interactivity. But to Pete's point, choice is fickle. So you've got your core fans, your super fans…fandom drives a lot of that interactivity. And then you've got 80% of everyone else who just wants to watch the show.”

Redniss emphasizes the importance of knowing your audience segments via data tracking and then knowing how to efficiently cater to them. “A great example of that is a product we built years ago for TNT,” he says. “We [were] diving into this streaming video stats of the TNT app. And we noticed, ‘Hey, Tuesday nights at 9:00 PM skyrocket…350,000 people coming in concurrently onto the app. An NBA game starts at 9:00 and guess what? 98% of [the users] were going to turn on the NBA game. So why don't we just build a product called Instanton, that as soon as you launch the TNT app, it brings you right into the game versus sending you to a carousel to make some recommendations? And so you go and dig into the data to say, ‘Guess what? 98% of people are there for one thing and one thing only. Let's give it to them. And then, if they want to get away from that, the 2% can go find the other stuff that we had to offer. So, I think those core capabilities are things that are still being experimented with today. And I love seeing different use cases coming alive right now.”

Scott says, “I remember we did March Madness, you had to figure out the time clock, right? So basically, we would just allow people to go diving in and they had three hours to watch three hours of content. And then, ‘Oh, by the way, we need your cable credential.’ So it was this weird sort of scenario where we kind of made that happen. And then we had to figure out magically by each device, ‘When do you start the stopwatch?’ For each person. But the idea was the same. It's like, just get them into the game preview.”

Learn more about streaming user engagement at Streaming Media Connect 2023.

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