There’s no doubt about it: The pandemic turned media streaming from a rising star to a consumer staple.
In Q2 2020, weekly viewing minutes jumped up 75% year-over-year, with nearly half (48%) of U.S. adults enjoying at least one streaming subscription by June 2020. Fast-forward to summer 2021 and 2 in 5 consumers enjoy watching TV and video content even more now than they did pre-pandemic.
During Advertising Week 360, Alida’s own Chief Revenue Officer, David T. O’Malley, sat down in conversation with two leaders in the streaming industry, Susan White Frazier of Wondrium and Kristin Connelly of Activision Blizzard, to hear about the innovative work they’ve been doing to keep up with these rapid developments. This session — part of Great Minds at Work: Streaming — explored how to cater to savvy streaming audiences and use Voice of Consumer (VOC) insights to inform product development and decision-making.
We’re recapping the top four takeaways from the event, and how each brand’s growth in streaming comes down to their ability to keep a pulse on ever-evolving customer expectations.
1. Offer consumers multiple avenues into the content
Today’s audiences are consuming content wherever they are. They want to watch on-the-go when it’s most convenient, but they also crave different media experiences — whether that’s viewing high-stakes sporting events in real-time or having a tangible connection to learning about their favorite subjects.
The key to capitalizing on these dynamic needs is to provide multiple ways into the content, mapped to what the consumer wants.
Here’s what Susan White Frazier, Senior Research Manager for Wondrium (formerly The Great Courses Plus and part of The Teaching Company) had to say:
“The goal really is to offer people multiple ways into the content they’re interested in. The more ways we can provide high-quality content, the better.
We still have customers who want physical media — they want to own those DVDs when it’s something they really like. But streaming allows people to have a much wider selection and watch wherever they are, without being restricted. And expanding into new content areas and formats means there’s always going to be something for everyone.”
Kristin Connelly, VP of Global Brand Marketing at Activision Blizzard — one of the top names in video gaming and esports — said this multifaceted strategy satisfies their avid fan base as well:
“On the esports side, we’re looking for our fans to watch live competitions. We also know, given the global nature of our brand, the value of being able to watch video on demand (VOD). Combining this with fans wanting to explore all the content opportunities and mingling all that together, I think that’s where the future will be heading.
You see it happening across all entertainment spheres: How do we blend live with VOD with other programming? How does that become one offering altogether — particularly for an audience that lives on digital?
We think about our fans in different ways and embrace each of them with different content offerings so that, whatever time they dedicate toward us, we have something to offer them.”
2. Cater to legacy clients while reaching new audiences
How do you preserve relationships with legacy clients and bring them along for new streaming experiences, while also appealing to and embracing new audiences?
Susan White Frazier says her team at Wondrium is striking this delicate balance by internally categorizing their offerings as “core” content and “growth” content:
“Core content will be appealing to and meeting the needs of our current customers, whether they’re DVD purchasers or streamers. Looking at growth content, what are some new things we can try that are a little out there or a little different in terms of format or type of presenter?
We’re trying to be sure we’re still meeting the needs of folks who have been with us for 25 years, and at the same time opening up new opportunities for people who might want to dip their toes in and try things out.”
Kristin Connelly adds that it’s a constant learning process at Activision Blizzard, with VOC at the center:
“We need to learn and correct. We need to fail. We need to figure out how to do things differently going forward. We know we have a loyal fan base, but we also have to embrace — and want to embrace — the casual fans and those that may be in different parts of their journey.”
3. Make consumers a part of your innovation journey
If you’re a media company moving into the streaming space, you can risk alienating loyal consumers by changing too much, too fast. Creating a dialogue with your customer base can ensure you move in the right direction and at the right pace.
According to Susan White Frazier, this method helped Wondrium ease into new content delivery methods and eventually new types of content their consumers love. Here’s her advice:
“Stick with what you’re good at and bring your customers along into your streaming world. Then you’ve got the room to try new things. Jumping into a new way of delivering content and new content categories at the same time could be a little much for people. Bring them along and introduce things gradually.”
An important reminder from Kristin Connelly is to keep customer data and insights close at hand while you innovate. And keep VOC communication lines open to keep collecting feedback on new offerings:
“Test and learn. Adapt. This is a digital audience that wants to see different things, they’re ok if you pivot. Look at the data. See what they’re engaging in and interested in, double down on that, and be ok to let go of things that are not working as well.”
4. Keep a finger on the post-pandemic pulse
Digital media was one of the few uninterrupted experiences during the pandemic. For many consumers, it provided a connection with peers and some sense of normalcy.
Both Wondrium and Activision Blizzard saw their audience numbers skyrocket as a result, with a constant flow of new users and record-breaking engagement and usage. But in an effort to hold their audiences’ attention, neither brand is taking this for granted.
As Susan White Frazier says, it’s about continuously learning what their customers’ needs are and how to keep providing value as their day-to-day evolves:
“As life is returning to normal and people are able to do more in-person things, many of those customers are sticking with us because the content is so fascinating and wide-ranging. That’s really fulfilling for us as we continue to work on developing a nuanced understanding of who our customer is, current and potential.”
Kristin Connelly emphasizes that consumers stick around because it’s about more than just the content. It’s about being part of a long-lasting community:
“Usage hasn’t really decreased. That sense of community the esports and gaming communities provided is just so special. Someone can make friendships, keep friendships, talk to people — they may be playing the game or watching other people play. There are a lot of options across our platforms. No shortage of entertainment and ways to stay connected.”
Want to hear more VOC insights from streaming industry innovators? Register for free to watch the full session on-demand now: A Passionate Audience: Streaming to Modern Viewers.