By Chris Hampartsoumian
Multi-screen has been one of the biggest accomplishments in broadcast over the past few years. No longer do consumers watch content around one central TV screen; in fact, it is just one screen among many. The evolution of video consumption has brought more choices to the consumer than ever before. With multi-screen the new norm, viewers can choose when, how and on what device to consume the plethora of video content available to them.
But in the same way that viewing habits have diversified, so too has the profile of the multi-screen viewer. As over-the-top (OTT) streaming has grown in popularity, we now have a much bigger and fairer representation of the population consuming content via multiple screens — from the younger, digitally-native consumer, who may binge-watch content and second-screen simultaneously, to the Gen Xers who may appreciate simpler navigation interfaces. There may have been a transformation from the rigid linear TV experience to one of fluidity, but this is not reflected in the user experience (UX) of multi-screen offerings.
Multi-screen delivery was achieved through varied consumer demand calling out for content to be made available on a multitude of devices, so why do we now provide the same generic multi-screen experience to every consumer?
We already know that there is a massive difference in behaviour among customer demographics, in terms of binge-watching, mobile viewing and so on. And, of course, individual viewers most certainly do not want to watch the same content — that is part of the reason OTT video is growing exponentially in popularity and why linear, inflexible TV offerings are doing the opposite. But that is exactly why multi-screen services must make it easier for consumers to discover the content they really want to watch.
Optimising the UX
Optimisation is key to developing the best and most dynamic UX for the customer. Multi-screen providers should tailor the interface of platforms to better meet the needs of the customer’s unique profile. Naturally, to do this we need to know exactly what a consumer needs from their multi-screen experience. Of course, this does not mean that we should only know what content they prefer to watch, it means we need to consider the time a user spends on a platform, what time of day they consume certain genres of content, and the way they tend to discover it.
It is no longer all about the best UX, it is about providing the most intuitive experience for the viewer. We can only do this when we look at customers as specific entities, rather than whole groups of similar consumers.
Multi-screen experiences need to be personalised to individual viewers. By using behavioural analysis of a user’s viewing history, we can make the experience more contextually relevant to not only their interests, but also their viewing style, age, location and so on. By doing so, we can build dynamic UXs and achieve true personalisation.
Competition facing content providers has never been higher; consumers have access to the biggest variety of content ever, and they are demanding better ways to discover this content and consume it. Individual viewer tastes vary tremendously, and what might make one viewer choose to watch something could just as easily encourage another to avoid it, even if the content of the film/series/documentary is actually appealing to both. Video services are increasingly putting personalisation at the forefront in various ways, including personalised ads and content suggestions.
Multi-screen delivery is accessible, but as it continues to develop, we must ensure it remains applicable to the consumer and benefits each and every viewer. It is up to the industry to ensure this is the case, by creating tailored and intuitive multi-screen platforms more suited to the diverse ways in which we consume content.