As part of my summer internship at Moment, I had the opportunity to work with three other young designers (and the rest of the Moment team) on a speculative project focusing on the future of media entertainment. We began by immersing ourselves in research of the industry. For an industry undergoing constant, tumultuous disruption, this was no small task. Over the course of three months, we performed extensive secondary research, conducted interviews with industry experts, and completed diary studies and interviews with consumers. This research helped to inform Flux, a service we designed to address some of the needs we uncovered from our research.
The Media Industry
Content creators, media networks, and distributors have been working together since 1945 to build the media industry into the $74 billion machine it is today. For almost 70 years, this co-dependent ecosystem has allowed service providers to flourish financially and serve consumers with content that increases in variety and quality every year.
We began our research by looking at how people were able to access content. In the traditional TV consumption model, a select amount of content was created by the networks and then broadcasted directly over the air, picked up by the user's antenna, and displayed directly on their TV.
With the advance of cable companies, more content was produced, bundled into more channels, and transmitted over a faster, more reliable cable. This change put the cable companies in more direct control over the user's access to content.
...And then the internet happened. The access to content became infinitely more complex. Networks are now creating more content than ever that is still delivered via cable channels. Along with that, new internet services that license network content have cropped up to provide it to the user more directly and on demand. A slew of new devices including mobile phones, tablets, computers, and set top boxes have given users new avenues to access content in new ways.
Cost & Device Proliferation
The cost to the user to access content has increased considerably over time. They have gone from paying virtually nothing for access to antenna TV to paying hundreds of dollars a year for the various services they utilize and subscribe to.
Along with the increased cost for services, the number of connected devices has increased as well. We have gone from having one television in our living rooms to an entire cloud of devices that are all connected to each other via the internet. This transition has promoted many new behaviors that have critically changed the way people interact with media.
Things are chaotic.
While users are now presented with an abundance of choice, many feel overwhelmed and unsure about how to navigate this complex media landscape. We uncovered the complexities of the business and technology landscapes, but we wanted to take some time to better understand the users themselves.
We surveyed a large pool of users, conducted a diary study, and interviewed a range of people to gain more insight into specific behaviors, habits, and preferences. We also interviewed industry experts to better understand the potential of the media industry in the future.
The content consumption cycle
We found that users encounter and interact with their video content in five different ways:
- The initial discovery
- The decision to watch that content
- The way they access the content
- The physical consumption of content
- Engagement with associated media outside the watching experience.
User behavior modes
After defining the user journey, we synthesized the rest of the behavioral data we collected. Instead of creating 'traditional' personas, we characterized the different new behaviors surrounding video watching for entertainment. We found that many people exhibited overlapping behaviors and slipped into different behavioral modes depending on their situation or mood. Each mode engages with different parts of the user journey in different ways. Listed below are new behavioral modes that have emerged as a result of recent changes within the media industry.
The system is complicated.
The journey a piece of content goes through from creation to consumption is a long one. It requires the coordination of many different constituents before the consumer even sets eyes on it. Because so much time and money has been invested into these products and services, the industry has been slow to innovate.
There's an entertainment center in your pocket.
Mobile phones are quickly becoming the number one way that people access information. As we begin to curate information personal to each of our tastes, services have adapted. Subscriptions are more individually focused, moving away from paying for access per household, for example. All this personalization contributes to big data that these services use to make their products more useful than ever before.
Change is on the horizon.
Networks are experiencing increased competition. The average number of cable channels available to viewers increased by almost 50% from 2009-2014. Similarly, Netflix's streaming-subscriber base grew to over 30 million subscribers at the end of 2013. New web-based services are pulling consumers away from their cable subscriptions as they find new ways to access the content they want. In fact, 1.8 million people ditched their cable TV service in 2013.
Consumers just want their content.
When it comes to video content for entertainment, all people really want is to watch the shows and movies they really love. Right now they go to great lengths to do so. People have created a cloud of services and subscriptions that allow them to watch what they want. While we can contribute our best ideas, how the industry adapts to current user trends is still yet to be seen.