Login is restricted to DCN Publisher Members. If you are a DCN Member and don't have an account, register here.

Digital Content Next


Research / Insights on current and emerging industry topics

More video content, more confusion. We need to help consumers find what to watch

January 10, 2018 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN @Randeloo

Consumers are swamped with video content options. New services continue to emerge in a fragmented marketplace of distribution platforms. It’s overwhelming for consumers and, as a result, much video content is left undiscovered and unwatched. Today’s video publishers need to do more than create (or acquire) must-see content. The need to attract and engage consumers and provide a return on investment to marketers.

PwC’s Consumer Intelligence Series, Can you find that show I didn’t know I wanted to watch? How tech will transform content discovery focuses on the key questions of digital content discovery, its influencers and improvements needed in personalized recommendations.

The Appetite is There

Consumers have an appetite for new content. Half of consumers (55%) report they are looking for a new TV show or movie to watch at least once per week; 83%, a few times per month. Close to three-quarters (72%) of consumers are watching more video content than a year ago and just less than half (46%) are paying for more content.

Yet, consumers are frustrated with the content discovery process. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers agree that they often struggle to find something to watch, despite there being many choices available to them. Further, the findings show that half of consumers (50%) are frustrated when they search for content to watch compared to finding content to read (37%) or music to listen (32%).

Interestingly, pay-per-view customers (38%) enjoy searching for new video content to watch more than cord-cutters (31%) and cord-nevers (23%). Even cord-cutters are bothered by the process of finding content to watch. In fact, 74% agree that despite there being a lot of choices available to me, I often struggle to find something to watch and 61% also agree that searching for something to watch is frustrating. 

The Influencers

There are several key influencers informing consumers viewing decisions. Streaming content plays an important role in content discovery. Eight in ten of all consumers (79%) and 90% of consumers under the age of 30 years old agree that streaming services play a large role in their discovery of new video content. Social media also helps consumers find what to watch (50%), especially for those under the age of 30. Interestingly while there are frequent discussions on social media about video content to watch, consumers don’t necessary based their viewing choices on these discussions.

Further, less than half (48%) of respondents said they are influenced by what their friends and family watch. Meanwhile, FOMO (fear of missing out) reportedly also drives 25% of consumer viewing habits.


Pay-TV subscribers and non-pay TV streamers differ in the top influences on new content discovery. Personalized recommendations appear to be missing its mark ranking number six for pay-tv subscribers and ranking number four non-pay TV steamers.

Browsing is still a popular way for consumers to find video content to watch. Almost half of consumers (47%) report that they came across a new show they recently watched while browsing for something to watch. The other top responses included commercials/advertisements looked good (44%), read a great review (32%), recommended to me based on another show I previously watched (27%) and people I know wouldn’t stop talking about it (23%). Consumers are also unpredictable. Eighty percent state that what they choose to watch is largely driven by their mood on that given day.

Get Personal

While 79% of consumers report they’ve watched a TV show or movie based on a recommendation from a content service and 90% state like what is recommended to them, personalized recommendations are still not the go-to source for consumers. Four key contributing factors as to why personalized recommendations are not working for consumers include:

  • Friends and family know better
  • Personalized recommendations are the shows the services are promoting
  • Not sure if the recommendation will be liked
  • Don’t want to waste time on starting a new show that may not be liked

Consumers want more clarity as to what is behind the personalized recommends. Consumers report they are more likely to watch personalized recommendations if additional context is included:

  • Provide criteria for high rating; provide details such as fast-paced, exciting, good characters (83%)
  • Allow to access reviews directly from platform (75%)
  • Quantify likelihood of enjoyment based on previous viewing habits or others with similar profiles (72%)
  • Offer specific reasons for poor ratings, for example, boring (72%)
  • Ability to link to reputable critics’ reviews directly from platform (68%)

Get Smart

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help consumers find more content to fit their taste. AI can assist in content curation organizing content by themes. It can also use consumer insights to classify and target consumer segments to test recommendations. AI can look beyond genre categories and include a director, favorite actor, sub-sub-sub-genre, decade, special effects, costumes, etc. Personalization needs to be even more adaptive and include a temperature reading of mood. Content platforms should ask consumers how they feel. After all, 80% report their video content selection is often based on their daily mood.

Expanding the search function beyond individual platforms is also important to consumers. They not only want to know what to watch but where to watch. Helping consumers navigate the video content marketplace will assist the content selection process so that video gets found – and watched.

Print Friendly and PDF