Discovery is studying consumer behavior and employing artificial intelligence as it creates new customized apps for its numerous networks.
One function for some of the new apps will be instant on: When you open the app, the first program plays. Another is a bookmarking function that will allow a user to move from one device, such as a smartphone, to another, a connected TV perhaps, without loosing the place in the show he or she is watching.
The first TV Everywhere Go app, launched in 2015, covered all of Discovery’s networks. Within two years, the company switched strategies, creating individual apps for TLC, Animal Planet and the rest.
But those apps were pretty much cookie-cutter versions, according to Michael Bishara, senior vice president and general manager of over-the-top and digital syndication. And the company is now rolling out new, bespoke Go apps for each of its networks, starting with Investigation Discovery in November. The Scripps Networks brands — HGTV, Food Network and others — will also be getting an app makeover.
“We represent a portfolio of 18 apps that are TVE-enabled, which is an incredible set of brands. And all have specific audiences with different demographics and psychographics,” Bishara said. “We are in the process of really moving away from kind of the one-size-fits all user interface. We’re creating a sort of full, relevant ecosystem based on that user, on that consumer and how they interact with the brands.”
Once a user is in the app, Discovery will rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning, allowing it to learn a user’s preferences and recommend content. Those recommendations will be added to the user’s playlist.
Discovery will also promote content through in-app messages and push notifications,
The apps now offer nearly all of the programming in Discovery’s library. They are also increasingly getting original programming and previews of upcoming series.
“We’re leveraging all of that incredible value proposition and wrapping it in relevance and personalization, which is now really an accelerant to drive that engagement,” Bishara said.
For some networks where genre is more important that individual show titles, instant on will likely be employed.
“The user opens the app and they’re instantly entertained as opposed to having to search and find,” he said, adding that users will be able to adjust their experience. “The good news there is we’re going to be able to do both.”
Discovery is also rolling out voice activation, home-based authentication and single sign-on capabilities to make the apps easier to use.
Discovery measures engagement by tracking how long users tune in and whether or not they return after ending sessions on the app.
Improving the app experience also helps Discovery monetize viewers. The Go apps represent a growing share of the company’s ad revenue, according to company officials.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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