It’s not Me, It’s You

If you're a streaming media company - a content provider - how do you identify your competition? Are you competing against every other streaming provider out there? Are you a niche offering with little to no competition to challenge you for market share?

Let’s start with Kit Needham’s take on competition:

Any way the customer is solving the problem now is competition.
Kit Needham is Entrepreneur in Residence and Assistant Dean for Entrepreneurship Initiatives at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon University.

That sounds like every content provider is a competitor to every other, which to some extent is true, because at the end of the day, the primary problem the viewer is trying to solve is:

What am I going to watch right now?

Of course there are lots of other questions rolled up into that problem. Everything from which services a viewer has available, to the type of devices they want to use, can have an impact on what any viewer chooses to watch, as well as where, when, and how they watch it.

What does this mean for content providers? However you see your competition, at a minimum it means your service offering had better speak to at least two of three key factors: Perceived Value, Ease of Use, and Quality. 

Quality can be further delineated into two main components. First, the quality of the content catalog (do I like the programs) and second, the quality of the user experience (does the video, audio and metadata meet my expectations). Check out a previous post for a deeper dive into this topic.

When we talk about Perceived Value, we’re really answering the question:

Is this service I’m paying for worth the price, given the content and the cost relative to other services?

We could talk about opportunity costs too, but that’s an essay unto itself. 

When it comes to Ease of Use, we have to consider not only the ability to sign up for and login to an account, but the ability to navigate the service and locate the content a viewer wants to watch. Personal note: I tried for three hours to restart my subscription with a major streaming service only to be thwarted at every turn. Conversely, it took less than 5 minutes to sign up for another service, but the UI was a complete train wreck. I opted for neither and kept the services I already had.

Which brings me to my next question:

When was the last time you conducted a competitive analysis for your VOD business?

If you’re a content provider in the OTT/Streaming industry with a Video on Demand (VOD) offering of any kind, and you’re not performing regular competitive analysis tasks, you’re missing out on an opportunity to grow your business.

So, what sort of data would be useful in crafting a more competitive content strategy? 

Things like category structure on a service might seem inconsequential, until you consider the problem of findability. If your service has 4000 assets in a limited handful of categories and the competition has about the same number of assets, but spread across a dozen or more categories, with metadata overlap between them, which platform wins the findability contest? I would say the one with more granular alignment of content within a menu that offers up a greater variety of categories. Because if you have hundreds of titles labeled simply “Drama” you’re offering up a big bucket of titles for your viewer to sift through, while your competitor has created a flexible menu structure with more descriptive labels that can help viewers find content that interests them more quickly, especially when they don’t really know what they want to watch. 

Along these same lines, how many genres are represented on your service? If your competition has more, it might mean they have richer metadata associated with their assets, which could point to opportunities for improvement in your own offering, leading to a better experience for your viewers. 

eDigital’s VODSmart.ai can gather this information and display it in a way that is visually compelling, telling a complex story with rich data in side-by-side visualizations so you always know how your content stacks up to the competition’s.

But categories, asset counts, even movies versus TV series, these are just the beginning. 

What if you could generate word clouds from the metadata on VOD platforms? You could know the prevalence of any cast member, genre, or any other identifiable field in your metadata across all the content in your available library, and directly compare it to your competitors. Perhaps you’ve over-indexed on a particular actor, or don’t have as many movies with big name stars as your competition. Are you winning the “wow factor” or missing the opportunity? If an actor’s popularity spikes, do you know how many times they appear in your available content? VODSmart.ai can gather and display specific metadata fields in a variety of ways, including word clouds, helping your team deliver content that is timely and relevant to your viewers. 

Speaking of delivery, do you know your competitor’s delivery cadence? Do they deliver content like clockwork, once a week or twice a month, or do they deliver content to their platform every day of the week? How much do they deliver on any given day? How does that compare to your cadence? VODSmart.ai can deliver this data as well, helping your team create a delivery cadence that keeps fresh content in front of your viewers without overwhelming them with options and simultaneously meeting or exceeding your competition's efforts.

Once you have your delivery cadence humming along, maybe you’d like to look at content aging. You already know the license windows for your content, but equally important is the year content was produced. If most of your offering is five years old and the competition is largely newer, produced perhaps within the last year or two, are you offering content your subscribers will not only sign up for but will happily renew their subscriptions year after year? VODSmart.ai can show you how many assets fall into each production year, or in multi-year blocks, so you’ll know in an instant if you need to add more recent content to your service in order to stack up against your competitor’s catalog. 

That won’t matter for some VOD offerings, like TCM, where virtually nothing could be considered new, other than content that is new to the service. But duration of assets is important no matter what audience you’re trying to reach. If your competitor claims to have thousands of titles in their offering, that’s a lot of content. Then again, they might be counting every trailer and clip as an asset, which is fair, but might obscure the true number of individual titles available on their platform. Because while it is a numbers game, volume alone won’t cut it in today’s market. Viewers want to be engaged and entertained and unless you’re TikTok or YouTube, you need content that meets your subscribers where they stand (or sit, actually) - movies, documentaries, TV series, whatever you’re offering, VODSmart.ai can show you how it matches up to your competition.

VODSmart.ai from eDigital can deliver astonishingly broad and deep data sets about your own VOD offering, compare that data to your competition, and do it all on a single pane of glass that is highly customizable and entirely exportable.

VODSmart.ai expands what’s possible in the realm of competitive analysis for content providers with a VOD offering, bringing your place in the market into sharp focus and empowering teams across your organization - operations, marketing, programming, distribution - to maximize ROI and exceed viewer expectations.

That’s the power of AI in the cloud. That’s the power of VODSmart.ai from eDigital.

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