Broadcasters can reduce reliance on social media with their own ‘swipe’ discovery UX

Broadcasters can reduce reliance on social media with ‘swipe’ discovery UX

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Streaming app and UX developer TeraVolt believes broadcasters can avoid ‘giving away’ revenue and data to social media in their quest to reach and engage Gen Z and Gen Alpha.

How can broadcasters reduce their reliance on TikTok and Meta  engaging Gen Z and Generation Alpha?

One solution being offered is to use the tech platforms’ own tech against them: to bring the social media ‘fast-swipe-and-find-something-new’ content discovery paradigm to their owned-and-operated environments.

TeraVolt, the Hamburg based OTT application and UX development and consulting firm (now owned by Qvest Group), has spent 2023 explaining its ‘TV mobile FIRST’ concept for both mobile and connected TV apps and recently won an ‘HbbTV Award 2023’ for its first deployment, at ZDF where it is being used to revolutionise the way BVOD content is presented.

Oliver Koch, TeraVolt’s founder, readily admits that his company has taken inspiration from the TikTok experience and adapted it for a broadcaster use-case. He reckons broadcasters need to match the excitement and engagement of social media platforms but in their own apps so they can stop giving away usage data and advertising revenue to third-parties.

“TV mobile FIRST allows younger generations to explore content in the way they are used to [on social media], scrolling indefinitely,” Koch says.

“In a television setting, they can follow television hosts, shows and artists, and scroll through a show or sports highlights, watch short-form VOD assets…and if they don’t like what they see they can swipe it away.”

If broadcasters can engage younger viewers in this way, they gather the behavioural data that then drives more passive personalisation, using AI algorithms as found in TV mobile FIRST to present an ongoing sequence of new content hits that can be explored further or swiped.

As Koch points out, this concept suits broadcasters, who have deep content libraries.

The reward, when executed well, is to see viewers not only engaged for longer but sharing the broadcaster content. Teravolt’s message has been that ‘broadcasters deserve better’ from their content distribution into the youngest demos by taking more of the value from that engagement for themselves.

“The problem, says, Koch, is that broadcasters need better reach into Gen Z and Generation Alpha, and they have been trying to create that reach via social platforms, including YouTube and TikTok. They must give away part of their value, in terms of advertising revenues, and the social platforms get all the data and analytics out of the content. TV Mobile FIRST is the answer, and it uses an approach [the fast-swipe content discovery model] that is proven in the market.”

The TV Mobile First UX technology is added to a broadcaster streaming service via the player SDK. The mobile implementation of this technology has familiar engagement — content appears in full-screen, you can swipe it up and out of the way if you want to see something different. On the big screen TV it requires remote control navigation, but these are simple clicks to confirm decisions.

In both cases, the algorithms not only consider what you watched elsewhere on the platform, but what you have been doing during the TV Mobile First session. So, decisions taken on what you are currently interested in can feed into the backoffice decisioning on what content to queue up.

The big screen version of this content discovery and engagement paradigm, which can be used with a set-top box or Smart TV, is referred to as ‘Zapping Player’ and ZDF is the first to harness it, using HbbTV. The ZDFmediathek Zapping Player took the ‘Best Technology Innovation in an HbbTV Product or Service’ Award at the HbbTV Awards 2023 ceremony in late November.

Zapping Player offers content to users that can be manually scheduled or determined using an algorithm, and is viewed as an obvious complement to classic navigation via teaser tiles. Teravolt said in November: “In comparison to teaser tiles, where it is often not clear what content is behind them, viewers are directly part of the ‘current’ programme and thus get a quicker feeling for what kind of content it is. Zapping offers a completely new way to discover more, and see new content, in the Mediathek.”

During the swiping session, viewers are presented with three options for each piece of content: Continue watching (which also features start-over, pause and rewind features); Watch similar content by playing the next video within a channel; Watch completely different content by zapping ‘channels’. In the case of the ZDF implementation, viewers can select different audio tracks on content they stop to watch, and they can set bookmarks against content they skip but want to return to later.

For some time, Koch has been championing the idea that broadcasters need a different approach to engaging young viewers, and that they should have the ambition to earn their engagement and content shares on broadcaster owned-and-operated platforms — with less broadcaster viewing time on social media.

Teravolt’s IBC demonstrations in September and the ZDF deployment since then have added weight to his argument.

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