From On the Couch to On-the-Go

We are living in an on-the-go, on-demand world. Many television critics claim we are experiencing a golden age of programming, which in part has grown from a better understanding of emerging viewing habits and needs. Content is still where the true value lies, and there are a growing number of streaming services — both large and small — that stand out from the crowd by offering a carefully customized selection of content aimed at specific audiences.

Gone are the days of the living room TV being the only place to watch television. Today, consumers desire personalized and curated content that can be viewed anywhere, anytime, on any platform — even potentially through new channels like autonomous vehicles. Viewers are no longer tied to a specific type of content or program; if the content does not match the viewer’s expectations, they now have the means to find something better.

Unique Offerings Are Crucial

In order for broadcasters and media companies to stay ahead during this rapid transformation, offering niche content or delivering something unique that enhances the viewer experience is key. Over-the-top networks have dramatically lowered the barriers to entry, so that while big players like Netflix may be leading the way, smaller streaming networks are also now in with a shot at success based on the wide variety of platforms and data that are available.

Television sets and movie theaters have previously dominated the way viewers consume content, but people can now watch videos on mobile devices almost anywhere they like, including the car. With the rise of autonomous vehicles, video content for cars can even soon develop as its own unique business.

A recent study from Intel and Strategy Analytics predicts that a “passenger economy” will emerge and will be worth $7 trillion by 2050 as autonomous vehicles become mainstream. This type of economy will capitalize on the time that will be freed up as drivers become passengers, allowing them more time to be consuming content. The report warns that it’s important to start thinking about digital strategy now as the early opportunities offered by the autonomous cars of the future are still significant. It also predicts that media producers will develop custom content formats to match short and long travel times. One example of this could be content tailored to a journey based on what location the passenger is in — like a local community events recap curated for a Friday afternoon commuter ahead of the weekend, or some information on interesting pit stops for a long road trip.

With so many new platforms and offerings, there’s a great opportunity for other industries to produce their own tailored content to meet the needs of a more niche audience. The ability to offer curated content is particularly useful in the world of sports, enabling teams and leagues to complement match coverage with additional content, such as athlete interviews, postgame analysis and behind-the-scenes reports. In-depth analysis and behind-the-scenes player footage can be used to enhance the fan experience, which is especially useful for fans based overseas who wouldn’t otherwise have such direct access to their favorite teams.

Traditional television networks have previously used ratings to inform which shows to renew and which shows to remove. Now, in order to offer personalized content, artificial intelligence (AI) software is increasingly used for more in-depth analysis. For example, Netflix is using this type of technology to track viewer consumption trends and make personalized suggestions based on their historical preferences. This kind of technology was previously used mostly by large companies, but it is becoming increasingly accessible to smaller companies, giving them the same quality data to work with as the larger corporations.

Ripple Effects

As viewing habits evolve, there are even opportunities for other types of businesses to use digital content to reach their loyal customers, including news distributors, retailers and technology companies. Through the use of OTT platforms, these companies can develop new digital video content quickly and at scale.

With greater personalization through the use of data, the ability to reach a more niche audience and the availability of content through new platforms, we are entering an exciting new age for television and a complete revolution in the way content is commissioned in today’s industry.

Brian Morris is vice president and general manager of Global Media & Entertainment Services at Tata Communications.