The World of Content is Growing, Now Make it Easy to Find

The World of Content is Growing, Now Make it Easy to Find

“If you wish to be The King of the jungle, it's not enough to act like a king. You must be The King. And there can be no doubt. Because doubt causes chaos and one's own demise.” – Michael Pearson, “The Gentlemen,“ STX Films, 2019

Admit it, there really wasn’t anything wrong with the cable Pay TV bundle you had.

You went into the family/living room, turned on the set and BAM!, it offered up a couple of hundred channels and a program guide with round-the-clock stuff. 

All you had to do was scroll up or down and decide which show/movie struck your (O.K., your spouse’s) fancy, click it and watch.

Whe the movie finished, you repeated the ritual until …

Oh, sure, you only used 3-4 channels, but OMG the thrill of having a gazillion channels. It was a  Helluva’ deal.

Sure, you pay/paid a huge ($100+) monthly fee, but the cable guy had all those networks just for …you.

Each one had a crew of folks who spent months moving stuff around their 3D calendar and then said, “Viola! here’s what you get to watch on this day and at this time.”

 

 

Changed Landscape – Streaming changed the entire entertainment landscape – home and away. Other outlets will find it very difficult to regain their positions of power over what folks watch.  

 

But streamers changed that, saying you can watch any of our stuff when, where, how you want … and we won’t charge you ad time.

It was easy to subscribe to 5-6 services, even though it was a little clumsy to find which streaming silo had the video story you wanted to watch.

But you could watch the stuff on your schedule without all those boring ads. 

Great … we cut back our monthly entertainment bill dropping the obese bundle and signed up for a few “interesting” streamers.

 

 

 

Taking Root – Streaming was fine when you had one source to watch what you wanted. Today, it’s become unmanageable because every studio, every network knows their stuff is better than the other guy’s stuff and they want to be the one source of consumer home entertainment … won’t happen!  

 

Sometimes – okay, seldom – we know there’s a movie/show on Netflix, Disney, Apple TV. We open the app and watch the movie/show.

If we want to watch the other guys’ movie/show, we have to go to her/his service, look around and find something that interests us.

We often end up blowing a good share of our “entertainment time” opening, searching, closing Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney + and others.

The problem is we know the show/film we really want to see but don’t have a clue which one of our fab services has it waiting for us.  

And who really cares about them anyway … seriously!

So, we settle on something because we’re tired of searching.

Now that most of today’s services offer a less expensive, ad-supported option and sweetened the offer with a really cheap 3-month Black Friday deal, we’ve reduced our entertainment budget again.

We honestly don’t mind 3-4 minutes of ads per hour.

That’s a lot cheaper than what Pay TV channels charged – 20 min or ads for 40 min of content – on top of the cable guy’s bloated bundle fee.

Wrong Questions – When you ask a person a question that is based on her/his experience, you can almost predict the answer/outcome … cost, ad-free aned more stuff than you can ever watch will always be the main issues.

The problem with the new way of getting your entertainment – streaming – is that all the market analysts ask the wrong questions as to what is important in your selection.

Cost/ad-free?

Duh! 

Cost is always a factor, especially if you have 3-6 services.

You’re not just looking at the price of each one, you’re looking at your total streaming entertainment cost.

No ads is a knee-jerk action.

You’ve had years of being overwhelmed by ads with your cable guy and no ****in way you want that again on top of the monthly fee.

Streamers know folks won’t tolerate a tsunami of ads every hour on the hour, so they’ve developed a different pitch for the viewer; and more importantly, for the advertiser.

They’re going to make streaming ads more important, more valuable to the two parties:

  • Streamers study all of the subscriber’s information (like everything) to help them determine what new shows/movies they’ll want 
  • They use that information to help marketers tailor their ads to target customers and not waste ad dollars on people who don’t want their stuff
  • They put very few ads in the pre/post and occasional mid-show ad slot so they’ll be seen
  • They offer the ability to pick the movies, shows and genre to place your ads with 

The viewer gets a price break and fewer and more relevant ads makeing both parties happy (and the streamer). 

Asked and answered.

Specific/original movies/shows?

Shows come and go, depending on the audience they can attract/hold. People know that.  

And if you’re one of 10 folks (or so) who still watch a specific series, that should tell you the world has moved on.

Sometimes a storyline just runs outta gas and you need some new “excitement” in your life.

You might be pleasantly surprised. But you don’t sign up for just a show.

It’s a lot like a relationship.  

You pick your partner but you get the whole family (studio/network/service) in the deal. 

WBD, Disney/ABC, Paramount/CBS, Peacock/NBC and others all have their own library and “seasoned” hierarchy that dictates what projects they greenlight for you.

If it’s a costly movie, it will end up in the streamer’s library after they’ve rung all the money out of the theater and Pay TV folks.

Netflix, Amazon and Apple get their content from a variety of sources around the globe including licensing stuff from the studios to fill the entertainment needs their folks have.

If the studio simply files the project away, they can take a huge tax write-off and we suppose that if they license it for awhile and then “file” it …

But in recent years, tech streamers have gotten even smarter about some of the films they buy.

Showing them first at theaters makes a few bucks but more importantly, provides valuable pre-stream marketing for the project.

And their nod to the big screen also makes the film eligible to be considered for an award, giving subscribers added validation they chose the right service.

Guess So – Just because a film/show is an original (whatever that means) doesn’t mean it’s any good or is something you want to watch/recommend.  Seems to mean nothing.   

Original programming has always confused us.

If the film/show is a sequel, prequel or part of an over-extended franchise from Marvel or DC, is it “original?”

We think that if there’s a film you didn’t catch the first or second time around but finally sit down and watch it, it’s still original  … at least to us.

And what if you wanted to watch it again?  Is it suddenly an imitation or counterfeit?  

Okay, it might not be an original if you got it from Pirate Bay or another torrent video site, but they do/will give you some original stuff – malware, trojans, viruses … stuff that just keeps on giving.

Sorry…we’ll pass!

Global Stories – People in the Americas can now enjoy content from around the world because of the pandemic, global streaming ambitions and the entertainment strikes in the US.  

However, thanks to the pandemic, growth ambitions of the tech-driven streamers and the dual WGA/SAG-AFTRA strikes, folks in the Americas learned what people in the EU, Africa, APAC, ME had known all along … they were making some really interesting, exciting high-quality video content.

Surprise!

With the “overnight” Netflix success with Squid Games (South Korean), Money Heist (Spanish) and the overpowering demand for Japanese Animi’; services suddenly discovered folks in the Americas really did enjoy content from everywhere.

Oh sure, the Hollywood crowd sorta knew that because they pumped up their bottom lines by showing their stuff over there.

In addition, now and then, they’d bestow one of their highly coveted statues on their projects. 

Seeing someone beside Hollywood put seats in seats and sign up for a streaming service because of films like Roma (Netflix); All That Breathes, Banshees of Inisherin, Coda (Apple TV+) and Bong JoonHo’s Parasites made studio streamers realize “their” audiences wanted more of that too.   

And, since their streams were running low on content due to the extended strikes, everyone got serious about looking for projects beyond their borders.  

That was fine.  

Overflow – The challenge for homeowners today is determining which streaming service has the content he/she wants to watch.  People don’t want a specific service, they want a specific movie/show.  

They filled their libraries with great stuff from everywhere but it still doesn’t solve the consumer’s biggest problem, biggest complaint … easily finding something to watch without having to jump from video stream to video stream.

Wall Street only cares whether or not you’re signed up for the streaming service they’re hyping at the time.  

Frankly, they don’t give a rat’s behind if you’re watching the streamer’s stuff. They just care that you’re signed up and will stick around for a while.

Churn is a big problem – about 35 percent annually – and it’s going to continue.

Back in the pay TV heyday 200+/- scripted shows were released annually.

With streaming, that number has grown to more than 500 plus the painful game shows, contests, reality stuff.

We subscribe to the four ad-supported services that usually have something we may want to watch.

If we only watch one movie a month from each of them, that’s cheaper than going to the theater and easier on the budget than our old pay TV/ads bundle.

Finding stuff.

One of the best things about returning to the office is folks are more than willing to tell you which movies/shows you should catch.  

You don’t even have to ask, they’ll tell you.

Selection Tools – Since streamers won’t come together to offer a simple way for a person to watch what she/he wants, people have to do a lot of research to discover a show/film.  Free services like JustWatch also serve as a valuable guide.  

Trailers in social media is another valid source because in just 30 or so seconds, they will show you all of the good stuff in the movie/show.

Your streamer always promotes new stuff and coming attractions.  

They also recommend films/shows based on your viewing history as well as folks with similar viewing tastes.

Yeah, they know stuff.

But that’s just one service and they never say, “Hey pop over to the other guy’s service … the movie is fantastic.”

You lost that entertainment options window when you cut your pay TV cord and left behind the EPG (electronic program guide). 

Two services – Reelgood and JustWatch – are pretty good free replacements for your old EPG.

And they’re always adding things to make them even more valuable to you.

While they both have pros/cons. We use JustWatch as our app in front of the streaming apps.

Just Watch lets you know about entertainment that will be coming soon and those that will be leaving, just in case you were going to watch something, sometime.

They’ve added an improvement we like–filtering shows/films by genre. 

Demand Projections – As superhero films have shown, people’s taste in what they want to watch change.  Watching and analyzing minor interest changes can help studios/content producers anticipate what people want to watch tomorrow.  

That’s also a good tool for studios/streamers in choosing future projects.

Reality and comedy storylines have fallen out of favor with audiences while anime and documentaries have gained interest. 

In addition, subgenres have their ups and downs around the globe – Canadians like westerns, action in the Middle East, comedy in France/Germany.

It would be nice if they had pages to give you information about project actors, directors, related programs but some folks complain even when something is free.

If you really want all of that information, there’s always IMDb that has information on just about all of the video entertainment work that is out there – past and present.

When we don’t have a specific piece of entertainment in mind, we’ll simply go to Pluto or Tubi. 

We’ve never figured out why industry analysts pigeonhole services – TVOD (transaction), SVOD (subscription), AVOD (ads) and FAST (free ad-supported).

They’re all simply home video entertainment – TV.  

How you pay for it — subscription, sub/ad is way less important than the who/what.  

Free Surfing – Free ad-supported services like Pluto, Tubi and FreeVee offer viewers a tremendous choice of channels and genre-specific films/shows to watch … regardless of the studio/network.

Pluto, owned by Paramount, is good because it is the closest to your old EPG service but without the pipe plugging, boring ads.

It combines VOD films (several thousand by genre), lots of dedicated TV show channels and linear TV channels.

Growing Popularity – People are slowly getting what they want to view – a broad range of films/shows in a specific genre or specific channels dedicated to the stuff that interests them.   The ads are different, better too.  

Since Tubi is also free, it shouldn’t be ignored.

It has 100s of channels, thousands of films/shows, no contract, no fees just good entertainment.

But even the two best FAST services aren’t what people really want because they still have to go from service to service until they finally find something or … settle.

Someday – hopefully soon – someone will develop and release a true, “nice” super aggregation AI tool for everyone’s entertainment.

You know, bring together all of the content and services – sports, studios, services (all flavors of VOD), niche/local content, gaming, news – under an entertainment umbrella.

A person flying in the sky

Description automatically generated

                                                Source – Gifer

Fly Over – A growing number of no-cost services allow people to surf over the top of the online entertainment and see which show/movie they might be interested in. Then, they can safely land (sometimes) on the content, enjoy it and go out for another jump over the content landscape.  

It will evaluate what you’ve watched, what you’ve checked and passed on, what friends/family/people with similar tastes have watched and take you directly to the best handful of stories that you should consider.

One sign-in starts everything working for you and you simply watch the options go by until you say yes.

The more you use it the faster it comes up with specific recommendations. 

A person in a tuxedo

Description automatically generated

                                                  Source – STX Films

Until…BAM!

Or as Mickey Pearson said in The Gentlemen, “There’s only one rule in the jungle: when the lion’s hungry, he eats!”

Of course, there’s going to be some mishaps along the way which is why Pearson made a strong recommendation to the folks that are using AI to develop the new personal entertainment selector, “You need to invest in some parachutes. There’s a pattern emerging here.”

We’ll stay on the ground and … wait.

Andy Marken – andy@markencom.com – is an author of more than 800 articles on management, marketing, communications, industry trends in media & entertainment, consumer electronics, software, and applications. An internationally recognized marketing/communications consultant with a broad range of technical and industry expertise especially in storage, storage management and film/video production fields; he has an extended range of relationships with business, industry trade press, online media, and industry analysts/consultants.

 

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