"Binge-watching" was added to Oxford's online dictionary two years ago, thanks to the explosive growth of streaming video and Internet-based television that break viewers free from predetermined programming line-ups. It has given new life to archival content and inspired a genre of nostalgia programming that has every nineties kid reaching for their Ring Pops. Consumers have benefited greatly from this new technology, and the industry has, in many ways, risen to meet these ever-evolving demands.
But we can do better. Irrelevant ad content, compounding subscription fees, technical challenges and a lack of compelling programming are all pain points that viewers have with their streaming services today. These can all be addressed by analyzing data, captured over time.
As more streaming services enter the market, it is imperative for service providers to consistently optimize the viewing experience to keep current customers happy and attract new ones. They must create highly personalized experiences that are more compelling than their competitors because ultimately, in the streaming video market, success lies in making it easier for consumers to access the content they want, when they want it.
With access to a plethora of data revealing likes, dislikes and preferences of viewers, providers that utilize analytics to develop a holistic understanding of their customers, and then act on those insights, will be most successful at ushering in this new era of highly relevant, individualized streaming experiences.
Leveraging advanced analytics and cognitive capabilities to understand this data can, when thoughtfully assembled, provide a 360-degree view of target audiences and offer actionable insights that will keep viewers watching and buoy the bottom line.
In a recent survey, we found that 27% of consumers will cancel a subscription because there are too many ads. Data and analytics give service providers a window into consumers' viewing habits and preferences, enabling them to alleviate this frustration by ensuring that viewers only receive ads that are highly relevant.
Take that one step further. Data about viewing drop-off can also provide unprecedented insight into what consumers are willing to tolerate. Will they complete a five-minute branded video before watching a 30-minute sitcom with no interruption? Or are 30-second mid-roll spots a better option? In this way, service providers can better optimize the viewing experience for consumers while simultaneously ensuring that their advertising partners get the level of engagement that they expect.
If there are no specific user profiles within a streaming service, password sharing can make it difficult for service providers to deliver a highly personalized experience. However, data can solve this. By comparing general demographic trends across a large population, streaming services can predict how users will consume content and then cross-check those patterns with audience and social insights. Based on these findings and viewing behaviors, providers can proactively serve up the right video for the viewer -- even if multiple people are using the same single account.
As more and more consumers turn to streaming, and live events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl continue to draw massive online viewership, providers need to be able to handle sudden surges in traffic. For 17% of respondents in our survey, technical issues like buffering and delayed starts are cause for cancelling a service. And while frustrating for consumers, technical issues can be worse for service providers, leading to very public streaming failures on a grand scale. Yet again, advanced data and analytics offer a solution, because fully understanding consumers' viewing habits is a crucial component of planning for peak demand.
There was a time when the prospect of premium content owners like HBO and Showtime launching direct-to-consumer streaming services was hotly debated. We have not only moved far past this conversation, but have entered into a new era of industry transformation. In the race to stake a claim in today's increasingly crowded market and compete for audience attention, it is imperative that content providers not only understand their viewers' needs, wants and pain points but how to solve them using available data and analytics.
— David Mowrey, Vice President of Business Development and Strategy, IBM Cloud Video