The internet offers a realm of opportunities with which to exercise our free time. The attention of American consumers is increasingly pulled in new and complicated directions, but even with the abundance of platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Reddit, we continue to rely on television to seek fulfillment in our downtime.
People actually watch just as much tv as they did before the introduction of smartphones and clickbait. According to Nielsen, Americans watch more than 7 hours of television per household per day.
And while we continue to enjoy tv throughout the era of ubiquitous internet, it comes as no surprise that the way we consume shows and movies has dramatically changed over time. People have cut the cord on cable in favor of subscription-based streaming services. With this shift, the expectations audiences have around television have transformed too. Today, consumers demand original content where and when they want, on whatever device they choose. We want compelling new content with zero wait time or interruption. Television watchers seek immediate gratification wrapped up in a personalized experience.
How we discover what to watch has changed too. The rising number of streaming platforms, like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and Disney+ paired with mass amounts of digital content has made television-watching unexpectedly challenging for today’s consumers. People are overloaded with options and more does not always feel like more.
According to NBC News, Netflix calculated that users will spend just 60 to 90 seconds browsing for content and will review between 10 to 20 titles before they lose interest and give up. Customized recommendations and unique search filters attempt to combat this problem.
Netflix’s recommendation system accounts for 80 percent of the hours watched on Netflix in total. The remaining 20 percent comes from their search function. There, users can search by actor, genre, title, director, video quality, or language. If a user searches for content that is not available on Netflix, it’s recommendation engine can surface similar titles.
Organization and curation through recommendation engines come with their own unique set of challenges. Recommendation algorithms must not only be accurate but generate options that promote diversity and invite serendipity while providing both novelty and coverage.
This is where AT&T enters the conversation. As of 2014, the telecommunications company acquired DirecTV and officially stepped into the transforming business of television.
As part of this mission, AT&T has developed AT&T TV, it’s new Over the Top TV service. With AT&T TV, the company strives to deliver a unified platform that satisfies the television needs of its 30 million AT&T customers. The service will offer live TV, “55,000 on-demand titles”, integration with premium channels, and the ability to record “500 hours” on DVR, all available to the user through a universal search feature.
At first glance, it isn’t entirely clear how AT&T TV will fit the television ecosystem of today. And as this product takes shape, AT&T is not only competing with other streaming services and television providers, but with any digital entertainment experience that draws viewers away from their services.
With on-demand content at our fingertips, people are redefining their relationship with television. If AT&T can recognize the power of interactive media, the company may find itself at a unique crossroads for positioning AT&T TV as a television experience.
AT&T should take advantage of their userbase by delivering a platform that distills complexity, invites serendipity, and engages a dynamic audience in unexpected ways. AT&T TV is just beginning to define itself and the time to differentiate is now.