How AI will rewrite the rules for creating and acquiring content

Whether it’s content creation or acquisition, creative decisions serve a clear purpose: to drive value

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A mere five years ago, an OTT service could have one successful show that carried all the rest of the content on its platform. With today’s saturated OTT market, every piece of content that a business invests in needs to be successful (read: profitable). Previously, we’ve praised understanding viewers. And while understanding viewer preferences is key, the real opportunity for streaming services lies not only in understanding audiences, but in fully understanding the content itself.

The advent of artificial intelligence opens many opportunities for streaming service providers to both better understand their content, and turn that understanding into more informed content creation and acquisition decisions.

New Idea? No problem: AI will help create the next big hit

It’s easy to discover which shows perform well. Streaming services have access to viewer habits ranging from the length of viewing sessions to demographic data. What’s hard is understanding why certain shows resonate with audiences.

Look at Netflix. When deciding on its most popular shows, Netflix leverages a combination of viewer insights and preferences. For example, by all accounts, Stranger Things is a hit. But what about it keeps its more than 15.8 million viewers coming back for more mysteries from the Upside Down?

This is where AI comes into play: AI identifies and creates metadata, converting video (notoriously unstructured data) into something that is searchable and discoverable. Metadata includes anything from visual data (people or objects), textual and audio cues (captions and sounds), emotional cues (tone), to specifics like location. Using cognitive tools, service providers will find surprising insights to advise creative strategy.

Maybe Millie Bobby Brown’s haunting yet endearing performance as Eleven isn’t the sole factor. Maybe it’s the latent success of an 1980s nostalgic, horror-meets-sci-fi plot led by a gaggle of fearless kids on bicycles. The only way to be sure is to have a complete understanding of the content itself—telekinetic characters and all.

Remixing reboots: AI will help decide when to buy and when to revive

We all have our favorite shows to binge-watch. Most people have even experienced the emotional rollercoaster of having a favorite cancelled and rebooted. Remember what happened with Timeless, The Mindy Project, Sense8, and even Twin Peaks, all of which were cancelled and later revived? Everyone also jumped when classics like Friends and Golden Girls were finally available for streaming.

For popular shows like Friends or those which awoke the ire of the fandom like Sense8, the decision to acquire or reboot can be easy. But the choice may not always be clear based on viewer data and sentiment alone. When making tough calls on content acquisition, cognitive tools will help ease the burden.

Acquisition strategy will reference data from a show that already exists to determine its investment potential—whether the goal is to reboot or add shows to a content library. AI will identify the most compelling scenes within a series and reveal which story angles and characters will resonate with future audiences. Essentially, you’ll have a how-to-guide on refining your content strategy.  

A “cognified” view of the media, viewers, and context from social media, blogs, or other external data sets (example: Rotten Tomatoes) will advise these business decisions.

cognified view of data sets IBM

Show me the money: AI will increase content value strategically and monetarily

Whether it’s content creation or acquisition, these creative decisions serve a clear purpose: to drive value.

It’s no secret that viewer churn and retention remain major issues for both subscription and ad-supported streaming services, respectively. In fact, recent data indicates that the top contributing factors to whether or not a consumer will quit a service include lack of good content and too many ads.

For content, AI will also enhance search and discovery features. After all, what’s the point of having great content if viewers can’t find it? Apple TV’s voice-activated search is onto something, but imagine if when you ask Siri to see a British political drama starring a female lead that The Crown would be a top recommendation.

While consumers don’t love ads, irrelevant ads are the real challenge. With a deeper understanding of video content, AVOD services will build catalogs of tagged (categorized) metadata—making contextually relevant ads the norm. Instead of promoting oil changes during America’s Next Top Model, viewers will see ads from popular fashion brands. Brands will have better ROI for placements, and viewers will have enhanced show experiences.

In the last five years, the streaming video industry has undergone explosive growth with the increase in direct to consumer streaming services like HBO Go, Sling TV, and Hulu. Our industry challenge is no longer about bringing these services to market, but rather how to grow and retain audiences. The key to staying ahead lies in understanding those audiences, the content they love, and using those insights to better inform creative decisions.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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