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Just 3/10 pay-TV subs using search capabilities often

Rovi Corporation today revealed findings from a sponsored survey of pay-TV subscribers across the U.S., Germany, the U.K. and France. The purpose of the survey was to obtain insights into consumer attitudes and opinions regarding entertainment discovery and gain a better understanding of the importance of search and recommendations to TV viewing.

The survey reveals relatively low rates of awareness and appreciation for current discovery capabilities. Across the regions, 22% of subscribers are not even aware whether or not their provider currently offers search features, and almost 31% do not know if their provider currently offers recommendations. Only 14% of respondents indicate they use their current recommendation feature often, while less than three out of 10 frequently use existing search functions. Subscribers in France appear the least happy with current discovery features with 20% indicating they are dissatisfied with their current search capability and 23% noting dissatisfaction with current recommendations.

Other research findings uncover the potential revenue impact of sub-optimal search and discovery offerings, revealing the amount of valuable time subscribers spend searching for content and the frequency of not finding something to watch. Subscribers in the U.K. appear to spend the most time looking for content with 71% indicating that they spend 10 minutes a day or more looking for programming, higher than the multi-regional average of 63%. An even more potentially troubling finding is the fact that 84% of subscribers indicate that they have turned off the TV without finding something to watch. Over half do so over 20% of the time.

The research also looked at subscriber loyalty and churn. Across all regions, on average, more than a third of all subscribers indicate they change providers or renegotiate their current contract after two years or less. In Germany, this figure is over 40%. Not surprisingly, price remains the major factor for churn with 46% of all subscribers noting it as the reason for changing Pay-TV services. However, service features also appear to be a major influence with 22% of subscribers citing “better features” as a factor for changing providers.

Highlighting the potential positive impact of improved search and recommendations, over 70% of subscribers indicate they would be willing to extend their pay TV service contract if they were offered better search or recommendations capabilities to find content faster and more easily. In France, 33% of subscribers noted they would be willing to extend their contract by more than 12 months.

The survey also looked to uncover subscriber interest in using voice and conversational interfaces to search for programming. Interestingly, while only 35% of subscribers state they use voice on any of their devices today, almost 61% indicate they would use such a feature if offered for their TV service.

The survey further explored subscriber interest in voice search by asking a series of questions before and after showing a video demonstration of advanced, natural-language voice search. After seeing the demonstration, the number of subscribers reporting they would use the feature jumped to 76% and the percentage noting they would use it every day or frequently more than doubled. Given subscribers’ price sensitivity, another revealing statistic was the fact that 35% of subscribers indicated they would be willing to pay an additional nominal fee for the capabilities that were featured in the video demonstration.

“The overarching takeaway from the survey is that subscribers appear hampered by their current discovery capabilities, spending a good deal of time searching for content and, in many instances, even turning off the TV without finding suitable programming,” comments Priya Rajagopalan, vice president of product management, Rovi. “To address this and the potential loss of revenue, providers must look to improve the discoverability of content, and consider supporting intuitive search and recommendations as well as innovative technologies around natural-language processing. By employing new discovery strategies, providers are better positioned to increase content consumption, subscriber satisfaction and safeguard against churn.”

The research findings were the result of a web-based survey of 2000 pay TV subscribers across the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany conducted in August of 2014.

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