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Discoverability: TV’s Current Challenge & Opportunity

Wed, Jun. 14, 2017 | By: Karen Ring





That’s the number of original scripted series available across the TV spectrum of Linear and OTT networks. SVOD alone accounted for 93 (20%) of those shows, an increase of 100% from the 46 original series available in 2015. The sheer number of programs available to all viewers, especially those with a connected device, represents an embarrassment of riches: the variety of entertainment choices means there is something for everyone, something to satisfy the tastes and preferences for all types of audiences.

But as we all know, the television entertainment industry is a business, and businesses need to be monetized. The fuel for monetization engines is audiences, whether those engines are ad-supported or not. So how do audiences go about discovering new programs, and how do they decide what they want to watch? Data from our recent proprietary study in partnership with Hulu, “How Gen Z Connects to TV” provides some insight into this question. 

Only a third of viewers (37%) know exactly what they want to watch when they turn on the television, leaving a significant amount of room for discovery, even taking into account the 41% who have a vague idea of what they want to watch. Men, in particular, have a clear destination for their viewing. But further drilling into behavior by generation reveals that Gen Z are far more likely to “channel surf” (or platform search, or jump around) until they find something interesting, underscoring the fact that they haven’t had the opportunity to develop loyalties and preferences to as many shows as their older counterparts.



Recommending the right program to the right user can be a powerful driver of discovery. No one knows this better than Netflix, which has employed an AI-assisted recommendation engine that saves the company $1 billion per year through increased viewership and lower churn. "This means Netflix can confidently spend huge sums ($6 billion a year) on new content, knowing viewers will consume enough over time to give them healthy returns on the investment.”

And while the proof is in the pudding, as evidenced by Netflix’s success, viewers seem to like this method of discovery as well. Almost a quarter of respondents claimed that they watch recommended TV content frequently, and 47% use it when they don’t have something specific in mind to watch. But the picture shifts when we look specifically at Gen Z who are 46% more likely to rely on recommended content than Gen X.


Connected TV offers a level of personalization not technically available in the linear world.

With the majority of viewers having no specific program destination in mind, and the number of shows growing at a rapid pace, the challenge of finding what to watch has never been greater. Those who make and distribute content (and the platforms that support it) are going to have to bring the content to the viewer, rather than the other way around, especially in an OTT world where it’s harder to surf and discover. Recommendations and targeting are fast becoming the way of the future when it comes to TV-watching habits. It’s up to the industry to get it right as we continue to iterate the TV experience.


Get more from our proprietary study, “How Gen Z Connects to TV”, by checking out our infographic and whitepaper.


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