TV Viewers Say OTT-Like User Interface Could Stem Cord-Cutting

August 31, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Pay-TV & Cord-Cutting | Personalization | Television | Video | Youth & Gen X

Digitalsmiths-Pay-TV-Content-Discovery-Cord-Cutting-Aug2016About half of TV content viewers are at least considering changing cable/satellite providers or canceling their service in the next 12 months, per results of a Digitalsmiths survey [download page] of more than 3,000 adults in the US and Canada. Pay-TV providers, whose subscriber losses are widening, could seem some benefit from releasing new functionality making content discovery easier, according to the research.

Indeed, almost exactly half of those at-risk subscribers would consider keeping their service if their provider released new content discovery functionality, such as shows recommended based on interests. That figure is up from 41% in Q2 2015, representing a 21% year-over-year jump.

That’s interesting in light of separate results showing that respondents are having a slightly easier time finding something they want to watch on TV. Still, only a minority (42%) say that content discovery is easy, indicating that there’s plenty of room for improvement.

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In fact, about 6 in 10 said they would be open having their channel guide changed, so that it’s sorted or categorized into groups/lists of TV shows or movies. There is some reticence – as about two-thirds of those who would be open to this would like to have access to both types of guides.

Nevertheless, the use of carousels (a feature commonly associated with OTT services) seems to have above-average appeal with the subscribers who are probably most at-risk of cutting the cord: Millennials and Netflix users.

Specifically, more than two-thirds (68%) of Millennials are interested in carousels, compared to 56% of non-Millennials. Similarly, Netflix subscribers are more apt than non-subscribers to want carousels (65% and 53%, respectively).

Perhaps not too surprisingly, the subset of respondents who are planning to switch from cable/satellite to an online app or rental service are the most receptive to carousels: 81% would be interested in changing their guide (this includes those who would want access to both types).


To be fair, this is not necessarily a panacea. Viewers preferring an OTT service are most likely going to change due to costs rather than user experience. Netflix’s most appealing feature, after all, is its price (59%), per the survey results. Still, 42% of Netflix subscribers like its recommendations, and 36% (up from 33% in Q1) find its pre-made lists of shows to be an appealing feature.

Still, considering that almost two-thirds report being frustrated at least sometimes when trying to find something to watch on TV, and that only 1 in 5 get personalized recommendations from their provider, it seems like a good place to start.

About the Data: The Digitalsmiths survey was fielded by a leading third-party survey service, among 3,114 adults (18+) in the US and Canada.


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