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Consumers expect more from their entertainment experience. They know that streaming content’s discovery and organization should be much better than it is today. They are tired of manually navigating back and forth between different services (all the different screens and menus in between) and wasting their time sorting through generic recommendations that don’t match their interests.
What do consumers want?
Streaming has fundamentally changed how we watch TV — what we watch, where we watch it and how we watch it. Roughly 82% of American households have at least one tv subscription service (Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc.), and 53% of Americans have at least three. In a 2021 Accenture global survey of more than 6,000 consumers, 60% of participants described navigating between their different streaming services as “a little” to “very” frustrating.
With each streaming service using algorithms based only on inputs from the limited selection of content that a viewer has seen exclusively on their service, recommendations are hit-or-miss. Consumers want fully personalized recommendations based on everything they watch instead of only what’s available on a single streaming service. They want curated lists of what’s new and hot and available for a limited time. They want it served right alongside recommendations from influencers and even their friends and family. This is how consumers make choices in the real world, so why wouldn’t they expect these social inputs to be part of their digital experience?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, consumers are looking for a single watch list that incorporates all their streaming services in one place and lets them play whatever they want to watch with a single click from any device they choose. That’s more compelling than a list in their phone’s notes app. This type of functionality is where aggregators can step in and create the experience consumers crave that individual streaming services can’t deliver.
While no consumer is likely ever to utter the words “can someone please find me an aggregator,” they are most certainly asking for the services that only a third-party aggregator is willing and able to provide. Roughly 56% of the survey respondents wanted the ability to take their viewing profile shared from service to service to receive more personalized content and recommendations, and 51% of respondents would be willing to let each service know more about them to make more relevant recommendations. Aggregators can do this by reaching across multiple streaming platforms, unifying the viewing experience with seamless access between services, and increasing viewers’ control over the content they watch.
Why streamers need to respond
Multiple streaming subscriptions can get expensive, and costs are on the rise. Without recommendations they can trust, people spend less time watching content and more time browsing menus. They pull up the clunky TV interface, choose a streaming service and scroll left, right, up and down. They forget all the shows their friends have said were “must-see” and eventually give up and put on a “Parks & Rec” episode they have seen countless times before, leaving them both frustrated and questioning if paying for so many services is even worth the value.
The role of the content aggregator is not new. In the pre-streaming world, we took for granted that cable companies were providing bundles, guides, simplified payment structures and other aggregation services as part of their overall package. The same is needed in streaming, given the increased diversity of content available and the fact that it is available at any time rather than in a fixed timeslot. In the streaming world, aggregators will provide this role and far more by creating personalized viewing profiles that consider all content across services. They can use those profiles to recommend new platforms as soon as they emerge to customers they know would enjoy them. First impressions are everything, and an aggregator-client profile will also give streamers a clear picture of consumer tastes the moment they subscribe. This will enable the streamers to provide better recommendations from the start and better determine what content they should invest in to meet subscriber needs. This will also feature past library content that the consumer may be unaware of, thereby reducing subscriber churn without the need to create new content to keep existing subscribers constantly.
The opportunity to improve streaming is wide open, and it’s only a matter of time before companies step up to make it happen. Consumers want it, the streaming industry needs it, and innovative partnerships between streamers and aggregators will make it happen, creating a win for all those involved.