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The consumer complications caused by streaming’s success

January 25, 2022 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

Remember cable television? How about consumers’ desperate plea for skinny bundles? Certainly, there is an entire generation (or two) that is entirely unfamiliar with historic issues around bloated offerings from traditional cable companies. However, for a few years there, things seemed better for consumers of all ages. Streaming afforded viewers the opportunity to handpick only the services they wanted. And even better: They didn’t have to sift through, or pay for, those they did not.

However, according to new Accenture research, consumers increasingly find streaming to be complicated, expensive, and difficult to use. In a survey of 6,000 consumers in North America, South America, Europe, South Africa, and Asia Pacific, the research identified room for improvement in how consumers navigate and search across various providers, the types and pricing of bundles they’re offered, and the relevance of the recommendations they receive.

Too much of a good thing

The proliferation of streaming services has given consumers options galore. It has enabled them to explore archives of their favorites and access a deep well of niche and enthusiast content. However, as many have feared, the research confirms that it has also created incredible complexity. With each additional service, consumers must manually browse through multiple platforms and screens just to find something to watch.

The survey found that 60% of consumers globally consider the process of navigating these different services “a little” to “very” frustrating. Nearly half (44%) spend more than six minutes trying to find something they want to watch.

Payment problems

Paying for more services is also a growing problem. In fact, many consumers are approaching their upper limit on the amount of money they’ll spend for streaming services. According to Accenture’s survey, 33% of consumers globally say they will “somewhat” or “greatly” decrease spend on media and entertainment across subscriptions and one-time purchases in the next 12 months. And, while Accenture doesn’t specifically mention this, it is likely that the inefficiency of having to pay for so many services, and tracking total spend is something consumers would like to simplify as well.

Discovery dilemma

Lastly, the research finds that discoverability is not just an issue of the sheer number of streaming platforms consumers must manage. Because each experience is siloed, consumers’ preferences do not sufficiently inform algorithmic recommendation engines so that they provide accurate suggestions.

Furthermore, the reliance on the algorithm to pitch shows doesn’t allow consumers to tune the model, except through actual show selection. A majority of global consumers said they’d like to be able to take their profile from one service to another to better personalize content (56%); and they’d be happy to let a video-on-demand service know more about them to make recommendations more relevant to them (51%).

Old problems in new platforms

The three issues consumers have with the current streaming experience and ecosystem all point to their desire to have far greater control over their experience. They want easier navigation and to pay for only what they want. For streaming to continue to grow and fulfill its potential, Accenture believes a big change to the ecosystem is needed: the addition of a smart aggregator that sits across multiple platforms and dramatically increases viewers’ control over the content they watch. Sound familiar?

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