TV audiences continue to cut cords and embrace streaming. As of May 2023, the percentage of TV homes with cable in the United States had fallen to 46.4%1, down 12% in a single year. With significantly more choices available on streaming platforms, the appeal is clear, but the wide dispersal of content has made it cumbersome for audiences to find something to watch, Nielsen noted in its latest report.
According to Nielsen’s “June 2023 Streaming Content Consumer Survey,” audiences now spend an average of 10.5 minutes searching for something to watch, which is up from nearly 7.5 minutes back in early 2019. Moreover, 20% of audiences say they do not know what to watch before they start looking, cannot find something to watch, and then decide to do something else instead.
Nielsen noted that there are two key factors inhibiting content discovery in today’s streaming-first TV world: an overwhelming array of content and content sources and limited media metadata.
● TODAY’S VIDEO CONTENT LANDSCAPE IS SPRAWLING
In just a few short years, choice and engagement with it have exploded. When Nielsen launched The Gauge in May 2021, streaming accounted for 26% of total TV usage, and only five streaming services were independently reported within it. In July 2023, streaming had grown to account for 38.7% of total TV use, and 11 individual services were independently reported. But that is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Nielsen.
Globally, TV audiences now have more than 2.7 million individual video titles to choose from, and 86.7% of them are available on streaming services. There was a time when audiences had just a small handful of streaming services to choose from, but now Gracenote Global Video Data has a record of nearly 40,000 distinct channels and streaming video sources for audiences to choose from.
Combined, the vast array of individual video titles and streaming services that offer them have become too much for many to navigate. The audience has all the control, but if they do not see something they like, a different option is just a click away.
● ENRICHED METADATA AIDS MODERN CONTENT DISCOVERY
When a TV show or movie was available on a specific broadcast or cable channel and scheduled at a given time, the metadata associated with it did not need to include much more than the program’s most basic information: title, primary cast, genre, rating, run time, etc. Amid the choices available today, this basic level of metadata is not capable of helping audiences find something they are personally interested in.
“Right now, there are tons of experiences but very little personalization. Many say that FAST services will need exclusive content, original programming and marketing to succeed, but I think user experience and personalization will be the real differentiators. All streaming services, including FAST, need to get the right content and advertising to the right user through merchandising, curation and data science,” said Filiz Bahmanpour, VP of Product at Gracenote, a Nielsen company.