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Recreating the TV experience for the internet

Posted by Richie Hyden on May 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am

Before there was television, adults and children would sit around their radios waiting for their favorite program to come on. There they would listen to the 30 minute or hour-long program until it ended and a new one began. When household television became big in the 1940's, the same rules applied. Individually or as a family, people would tune in to a program and after it was over another program immediately began. The next major media technology to hit the market was the computer and the internet. But instead of the traditional media format of radio and television, the internet took on a new format driven by clicks and self-navigation.

In the past, this type of experience may have worked for the digital realm, but as the amount of online content increases there is a glaring gap in the consumer experience, especially with online video. The internet is a vast abyss with so much content to sift and sort through that it is utterly impossible for the average person to keep up. And it’s only going to increase. Cisco Systems estimates that by 2017 consumer internet video traffic will be 69% of all consumer internet traffic globally. It’s estimated that nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the network every second, and it would take over 5 million years to watch the amount of content crossing the global IP network monthly. With that much content, click-driven, self-navigated experiences seem almost laughable.

When you look at the same issue from an advertiser, content owner and content publisher perspective the problem is magnified. These three groups know how to get their content heard or seen in a traditional radio and television format, but the internet is a whole different beast. With so much content, no continuous play and thus no site loyalty, how do content owners assure their videos are seen, advertisers make sure their ads are viewed and publishers keep viewers coming back for more? It’s a difficult feat to accomplish within the current online video landscape.

Migrating the television experience into online videos may be the answer to the content overloaded ecosystem. There are currently some online playlists available, but to be successful it’s important that the programming resemble that traditional format as closely as possible. Providing online video viewers with a continuous flow of personalized content that requires no sifting or sorting mimics the television experience in its friendly usability and effortless viewing. For viewers, they are no longer trying to track down the videos they are interested in, but instead get a steady stream of content that plays one after the other like the traditional television experience. For content publishers, this can build site loyalty within the consumer, who knows they can go to a particular site and get a television-inspired format. It also allows content owners and advertisers to have their videos and ads viewed, as continuous play increases the likelihood that viewers will stick around for longer, while personalization means the right content is going to the right audience.

The effect of this is truly simple at heart. Viewers watch a lot of television because of its continuous play. Why wouldn’t the same work for short form content and online video? By simply giving consumers a steady stream of online content that is tailored to their likes and dislikes, you can garner the same results traditional radio and television have seen throughout their history.

2 Responses to “Recreating the TV experience for the internet”

  1. Bobby Carter says:

    I'm working on it.... :)

  2. Jon says:

    Great post, really interesting. I've always thought video sites should use continuous play to try and keep people glued. Funny or Die do. iPlayer doesn't, yet. But people don't watch TV because it's continuous, they watch it because it's really good - what keeps them glued is the quality of the shows, wanting to watch another one. Hulu have the neat feature of telling you, accurately, what other people who watched the show you've just finished watching also liked - influencing your self navigation. All media is self navigation when you get down to it - I haven't watched much scheduled, continuous TV since the 80s when I got a VHS recorder.

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