In brief

In brief

  • Media companies are experiencing a huge shift in how consumers want to be entertained, with more than 40% subscribing to 3+ video streaming services.
  • However, streaming platforms suggest content and build personalized marketing based on what consumers watch only on their own service.
  • The result: scattered personalization algorithms that lead to inaccurate recommendations, irrelevant content, and frustration for many consumers.
  • We discuss why addressing this must be an urgent priority for streaming services and explore strategies to win over the complex streaming consumer.


Understanding streaming DNA through cross-platform insights

Back when consumers had only one or two streaming services, it was easier to understand their likes and viewing habits and serve them recommendations accordingly.

But with viewers’ patterns and preferences now split across multiple services, streaming platforms face a much more challenging task to understand those preferences holistically.

For instance, the sci-fi fan may also be a devotee of The Crown. The reality TV addict might also be a history buff. And they’ll turn to different platforms to satisfy their diverse needs. The problem? No single platform today knows all of this. In fact, 36% of consumers say that they are somewhat dissatisfied with the personalization of content they get from video-on-demand services.

36%

of consumers are somewhat dissatisfied with the personalization of content they get from video-on-demand services.

That’s because, in a multi-platform world, each streaming service now only has a partial view of each consumer. They know what that individual watches on their platform, but not what they’re enjoying on others.

The result? Scattered personalization algorithms and, what’s worse, an inability to provide relevant content that keeps viewers on the platform. Accenture research shows that 67% of consumers find it frustrating to find something that they want to watch, and 56% say that the recommendations they receive are not relevant to their interests. What’s more, according to Accenture research, 55% of consumers say that they use or prefer to use cross-service search engines.

This challenge will only become more acute. As the growth in subscriber numbers slows, the competition will shift to share of engagement and retaining viewers on the platform. That means maximizing the appeal and relevance of content recommendations that address a consumers’ entire preferences and interests. The only way to achieve that is with cross-platform consumer viewing data that will enable media companies to develop a comprehensive understanding of viewing behavior, interests, and habits. Consumers seem to want this too.

56%

of consumers would like to be able to take their profile from one service to another to achieve better personalization.

The consumer: it’s complicated

To find out more about today’s complicated consumer, we analyzed their viewing habits across platforms by looking into Whip Media’s proprietary data that captures individual’s content preferences from the various streaming services that they use. What we found was that the average consumer has a range of interests that no single platform is able to meet comprehensively.

While the sci-fi or drama fan may watch more of that content on one platform, their viewing habits elsewhere are likely to embrace a variety that, overall, accounts for a greater proportion of their viewing time. And by only having a partial – and somewhat skewed – understanding of their consumers, platforms are missing the opportunity to suggest other content in their catalogue that could meet consumers’ more varied interests.

As the figure below shows, a consumers’ real viewing DNA is likely to be at considerable variance with the ‘genetic profile’ that each platform holds for them. In this visual, out of the audience that watches the Paramount+ Series, Star Trek, we see what genre this audience is watching on other popular streaming services. The ‘overall’ genetic profile to the far right shows the average genre preference across all platforms.

Genre preference by platform. Star Trek (Paramount+) audience

Source: Accenture analysis based upon U.S. data from Whip Media’s TV Time.

Know your customer and take action

Whatever the future of the streaming landscape might become, one imperative – to know the complete customer in as much detail as possible – will be critical to success. Conversely, not having that holistic view looks likely to be a growing risk. Being armed with a clear understanding of consumers’ cross-platform viewing habits will be table stakes for streaming platforms to make improvements and identify new opportunities.

So how should media companies set about addressing these opportunities now and next? There are a range of short and longer-term actions possible, each of which will require progressively larger and more transformational efforts.

The quick wins

Acquire and integrate viewing data from other platforms to help improve personalization and content recommendation algorithms.

Medium-term

Understand what content is resonating with viewers across other platforms to evaluate content and marketing strategies.

Long-term

Collaboration with competitors, M&A and business model shifts are strategies that may help to address gaps in the content portfolio.

View All

Whatever strategic choices they make in the short and long term, one thing’s clear: streaming services must try to develop a broader understanding of the consumer and what they watch everywhere. Relying on the relatively narrow set of data that comes from just one service isn’t enough. Satisfying the needs of the complicated consumer requires a similarly complex approach.

Having more – and more detailed – data also enables a deeper understanding of consumers. And those insights could help media companies develop their offerings into a platform approach with streaming as just one revenue area. The possibilities range from commerce and social to gaming and new areas such as the metaverse. But success will hinge on getting to know and understand customers, and what they want, in all their complexity and diversity.

About TV Time and CVM Insights

TV Time, a Whip Media company, is the world’s largest TV and movie tracking app for consumers. Every day, over a million people use TV Time to keep track of the shows and movies they’re watching, discover what to watch next and engage in a global community of more than 20 million registered fans. They make this data available to companies in CVM Insights, continuously capturing viewing intent, engagement and affinity data for content across platforms and devices.

Their CVM platform fuels real-time actionable insights to better understand audiences, streamline distribution, and maximize content performance and engagement.

About the Authors

John Peters

Managing Director – Media & Entertainment, United States, West


Mark Flynn

Senior Manager – Accenture Research


Greg Di Chiara

Business Strategy Manager – Media & Entertainment


Amanda Seale

Senior Analyst – Media & Entertainment, North America

Contributors

Alba Nuñez

Research Manager – Media & Entertainment

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