Broadcast media is changing for the better. Source: Shutterstock

Broadcast media seeks to go where the audience is

TODAY’S customers demand different things when it comes to entertainment. As a result, broadcasters have both, a big challenge and a great opportunity in front of them.

In an exclusive interview with Tech Wire Asia, FOX Networks Asia, Senior Vice President AVOD Digital, and ConnecTechAsia speaker Ashwin Sridhar discusses the changing landscape for broadcast media.

How is consumer demand for content changing? What do consumers expect from media companies?

The internet and more specifically the proliferation of smartphones has fundamentally changed consumer behavior and expectations.

Today, consumers have unprecedented levels of choice when it comes to content.

Constantly bombarded with information and notifications, each one of them vying for their attention, consumers make the split-second decision on what content they want to engage with, and what they chose to ignore or divert attention away from in favor of content that resonates better with them.

At the same time, consumers also want to consume content of their choice on their terms – on a device and time that is convenient to them, as well as a format that suits them best (e.g. more visual and snackable, than a lengthy write-up or long-form video).

Put simply, consumers are in the driver’s seat. They have the ability to pick what type of content they want to engage with, when, where, and how.

Whilst all this marks a seismic shift in consumers’ preferences for content, their core expectations of media companies remains largely unchanged. They continue to expect media companies to inform, entertain and delight them. Albeit in different ways!

In your opinion, is the broadcast media industry doing enough to meet consumer’s demand? Why or why not?

The answer to these shifts from broadcasters has long been ‘go digital’. And while many broadcasters have indeed gone digital, they have had varying degrees of success with their digital endeavors.

Broadcasters who have pursued digital for the sake of ‘going digital’ have found success difficult and all too elusive. These broadcasters have come to realize that taking the same content that works on TV and simply putting it on digital doesn’t really work!

Broadcasters who have traditionally relied largely on content to attract audiences are now building a more distinct view of who their audience is and how to engage with them. More importantly, they are beginning to address the specific needs and preferences of consumers as individuals.

The traditional approach of segmenting audiences into broad buckets to then serve them no longer works – not when the consumer is in control and expects a personalized experience.

The consumer today is the final arbiter of what is good content and broadcasters are beginning to not just produce content that resonates with audiences by way of producing digital-first content and content that extends a TV show to digital audiences in digitally relevant and relatable ways, but are also getting very sophisticated in targeting that content to the right audience as well as producing different variants of the same content that resonate well with different audience sets based on first-hand consumer insight.

What are the challenges that broadcast media facing when meeting that demand?

Broadcasters face three principle challenges.

First, the pace of change in consumer preferences and the media landscape. Consumer preferences are constantly changing and at the same time, the media landscape is in a state of constant flux.

Just think of how vital Facebook as a platform was to broadcasters and content producers a few years ago. This resulted in content producers investing in resources to produce content for Facebook.

And now, Facebook is seen as a less exciting platform by the younger consumers who are flocking to Instagram. The old adage of fishing where the fish are makes absolute sense, but the fish in this context seems to be constantly on the move!

This is a massive challenge for broadcasters who have traditionally not had to contend with such rapid changes, and aren’t set up as the nimble and agile organizations that they need to be to keep adapting on a day to day basis.

Second, broadcasters getting their head around producing digital first content and repacking content for digital. This is not as simple as cutting down a hour long TV program to a two minute video.

It’s far more nuanced than that and requires a new breed of content producers with a digital-first view to produce the kind of digital content that consumers expect today that is specifically tailored to the platform/environment they are on.

Lastly, knowing the consumer intricately enough to offer a personalised experience. Most broadcasters have had the luxury of working with broad panel data to make decisions on content investment and how they serve their consumers. This doesn’t serve broadcasters all too well in the new world.

Broadcasters need to not only build a very detailed view of their consumers’ preferences, but also go beyond that to predict what consumers might like if they are to continue to surprise and delight their consumers.

How can they improve their delivery to meet with consumer expectation?

Broadcasters should adopt a consumer first mentality. One that is driven by first-hand consumer insight and data.

Every decision from what content to invest in, to the type of content that needs to be produced, to product decision on how to interface with the end consumer should be driven by consumer insight and with the consumer in mind.

Broadcasters also need to reconfigure their operations and teams to be more agile with a ‘trial fast and learn’ ethos.

To do this, broadcasters need to instil a culture where trial and experimentation is heavily encouraged, but equally, failure is tolerated and treated as a learning experience in understanding the consumer’s shifting preferences better.

What is the most important thing that companies should remember when using new technologies to increase their reach?

Technology is a means to an end. In this case, the desired end result is delighting the consumer.

While new technology and its offerings should be explored, adopting technology for adoption sake or to be perceived as being on the forefront of innovation is not serving the best interest of the consumer.

Instead, broadcasters should take a consumer centric view of technology and align it to the expectations that consumers have of broadcasters, asking the right question – How can I use technology to engage, entertain and delight my consumer?