More than just catch up TV: how can brands benefit from video on demand?
Back in August the BBC announced its roadmap for iPlayer – stating that the service will be more than just catching up with TV shows online, and will become part of the Beeb’s vision of forming its primary digital entertainment destination. The new iPlayer is set to include a unique content offering, including pop-up channels - around specific events or festivals - giving users the ability to create their own viewing schedules and access to more content on iPlayer before it’s broadcast on linear TV.
So as consumers start curating and creating their own viewing schedules, will this mark a significant shift from linear TV to Video on Demand (VoD)? And if so, what does this mean for content-led brands and broadcasters operating in this space?
There’s no doubt that time spent watching TV on demand is growing. 4oD views in 2012 were up 5% to 450 million and the BBC iPlayer app has now been downloaded over 20 million times. The established OTT providers are also seeing success. Netflix, along with YouTube now make up over half of internet traffic in The States and ‘Netflix only’ content, such as House of Cards and the final season of Breaking Bad has no-doubt helped the company see its share price more than treble over the past 12 months.
But traditional linear TV viewing isn’t changing much. According to Thinkbox, the UK’s marketing body for TV in the UK, despite the ready availability of VoD, TV is being consumed in much the same way as always: in the living room with friends or family watching programmes broadcast on their main TV set.
So where does the future lie? Linear TV and VoD aren’t mutually exclusive. We’re starting to see a shift in broadcasters bringing together the two into one, device agnostic, service with a seamless user experience. Connected devices will continue to provide rich content discovery, and an overhaul in personalisation, will mean cherry-picked programmes can be implemented around the shows that users like to watch live. This gives relevant content based on the viewer’s preference, device, location and time available to watch, in addition to retaining the much loved social element of watching favourite programmes ‘live’ and sharing the experience in real-time. We’ll see viewers given the option to set reminders for upcoming shows, with the platform sending push notifications for these shows and adding them to the schedule – making it as easy as possible to be consumed.
As viewers spend more time on these dedicated platforms, this brings opportunities for broadcasters to form stronger bonds with users and create value exchanges, with branded content served through secondary interactions.
And this is key. Brands should be valuing this opportunity within existing platforms, instead of just creating another second screen app. Focusing on these secondary interactions means users can still be provided with a seamless, multi-channel experience to keep them engaged with both the brand and the content.
Channel 4’s Scrapbook is a good example of this. It gives viewers the option of downloading recipe cards from Jamie Oliver, style tips from Gok Wan and property advice from Sarah Beeny. Keeping users engaged on VoD platforms is key as broadcasters experiment with getting monetisation right, whether that be through traditional advertising, subscription payment models or other financial strategies.
The downside of these seamless, multi-channel experiences? One of the main challenges for broadcasters is whether to consolidate their services on existing platforms or move towards new platforms such as Xbox One, PS4 and beyond. Developing for a wider range of platforms brings with it higher development costs in addition to resource and time commitment. But, as Gartner predicts that over 300 million connected devices will be sold by 2020, the market is self-evident.
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