Good content material is sweet UX. Streaming companies are all in on… | by Erin Donehoo | PatternFly | Jun, 2022

The UX of leisure

Streaming companies are all in on content material on the subject of crafting viewer experiences.

It’s true: content material reigns supreme. Not solely ought to content material high quality be a consideration when measuring person experiences, however it must also be valued as a key affect on person loyalty. Allison Biesboer summed up content material’s influence on person expertise with a easy declaration: “good content is good UX”.

Streaming companies take this concept and run with it, valuing content material above all else.

In a dark room there is television with the Netflix logo on screen. There is a ominous red light behind the television.
vPhoto by Thibault Penin on Unsplash

A fast Twitter search highlights how typically customers run into UI points on video streaming companies, starting from small preferences and annoyances to errors that break the app. But, even with quirks and bugs, most streaming platforms proceed to achieve subscriptions every year.

Not all companies are so fortunate, although.

Netflix, which is commonly applauded because the best-designed streaming service, just lately reported seeing its first loss in subscriptions in years. It seems that having one of the best UI isn’t sufficient to maintain customers coming again. It could also be tempting to chalk up this loss to spiking costs, however equally priced companies reported development regardless of their hefty charges.

Instead, it looks as if viewers are rising more and more crucial of Netflix’s content material choices:

A Tweet that says “netflix really needs to start working on their next big series bc when stranger things ends….”
Netflix has been criticized for over-relying on their hottest content material
A Tweet that says “The problems with Netflix are deep, they’ve produced some positively fantastic shows, but they’ve actively been training their own audience never to get invested, because they’ll cancel whatever it was they were enjoying before you can blink. That’s deep resentment they fomented.”
Netflix viewers lack faith within the continuation of unique content material

Netflix has essentially the most content material of any streaming service, however perhaps that’s a part of its drawback. The phrase “Netflix syndrome” has been coined to explain the fatigue viewers get from spending extra time looking for content material than truly watching it. Driving viewers to type via a whole lot of choices for a handful of high-quality gems could overwhelm them to the purpose that they provide up.

So, who is doing it proper?

Alison DeNisco Rayome and Kourtnee Jackson at CNET counsel that Netflix must hold its eye on HBO Max particularly:

WarnerMedia is without doubt one of the largest manufacturers in media, interval. The large Max service comes nearer than another to matching the breadth and depth you get from a Netflix subscription, and its library is rising.

In that case, let’s check out HBO.

Though HBO Max remains to be thought-about a teen with a smaller catalog than Netflix, its content material has been extra extremely regarded on common.

Looking at JustWatch’s record of the most well-liked films and exhibits, as an example, I rely 33 from HBO Max, versus simply 15 for Netflix. HBO Max additionally beats out different companies equivalent to Hulu (24) and Amazon Prime (26).

And whereas Netflix has a bigger catalog general, you must sift via extra cruft to search out its finest programming. Analysis final month by Reelgood, as an example, discovered that 25% of HBO’s TV catalog and 20% of its films are “high-quality” primarily based on IMDb rankings, versus 17% and 11% for Netflix exhibits and flicks, respectively.

Jared Newman at TechHive

Streaming content material will be cut up into two teams:

Curated content material

Both streaming companies have a menu of curated content material, which means exhibits and flicks that have been produced by different corporations. This content material contains films, absolutely wrapped tv collection, and (often) collection which are nonetheless airing.

Much of Netflix’s hottest curated content material has been eliminated as new, network-owned, streaming companies emerge and reclaim their very own collection (suppose Friends, The Office, and Parks and Recreation). Netflix’s focus has since shifted to unique content material (which may by no means be faraway from Netflix), however viewers nonetheless take their pitchforks to Twitter any time a beloved collection or movie is moved off the platform. Both HBO and Netflix expertise these losses and, in flip, have made unique content material a precedence. But, on the identical time, new curated content material is commonly cycled in. Ultimately, each companies should settle for this give-and-take actuality.

It simply so occurs that HBO has been luckier with latest curated content material cycles.

COVID was not form to film theaters — and 2021 led to a shift in Hollywood’s technique. A byproduct of the pandemic, HBO was in a position to get hold of new releases for his or her viewers once they couldn’t go to theaters. This comfort has been dialed again as theaters have reopened, however in 2022 HBO has nonetheless been in a position to give their viewers early entry to blockbuster streaming.

Time will inform if this profit is right here to remain, however it efficiently created a robust pull for HBO during the last yr. It seems to be like Netflix could have the chance to observe go well with this yr with extremely anticipated movies like Knives Out 2, so will probably be fascinating to see if this additionally works of their favor.

Original content material

Netflix’s unique content material is well-known and sometimes well-loved. This focus has paid off for them as their unique collection Squid Game took 2021 by storm. Long-running collection like Stranger Things and Orange Is the New Black have established themselves as family names.

Netflix’s unique content material has been extra in style than HBO Max (excluding cable HBO collection), however that will not be sufficient for an keen viewers. Though their originals are sometimes obtained nicely, they’re sometimes launched all of sudden, holding viewers’ consideration just for a short second. HBO, alternatively, has chosen to roll out the discharge of their originals (like Euphoria, Minx, and Our Flag Means Death) over multi-week durations. Reminiscent of cable TV viewing, HBO could have discovered the recipe to carry viewers’ consideration for longer. There are advantages to utilizing both technique, however making a weekly buzz for brand new episodes retains viewers tuned in for longer. This fosters extra dialogue and theorizing and, in consequence, extra viewers.

Services nonetheless should preserve a sure degree of UI usability for individuals to even take into account shopping for in. Mobile apps and web sites must be practical on the very least. HBO’s content material could also be thought-about increased high quality, however that gained’t imply a lot if customers can’t get their app to work.

A Tweet that says “the hbo max app is designer like they’re mad at you for using it.”
HBO Max’s app receives robust criticism online
A Tweet that says “Attempted to rewind on the HBO Max app and my tv started smoking and shaking then fell off the wall”
Complaints could come throughout as jokes, however clearly many viewers share frustrations with HBO’s app

It will be enjoyable to hate on HBO, however they’re not the one wrongdoer.

I share UI frustrations with viewers of many companies, just like the lag on HBO, the obtrusive trailer autoplay characteristic on Netflix, the tiring and complicated searching expertise on Hulu and Amazon Prime, the arbitrary content material grouping names and group on a number of apps…the record may go on.

At the identical time, good UI design solely takes you thus far.

If corporations spend all their time making partaking merchandise, and completely gorgeous, draw-dropping person experiences that finally say nothing, can they actually be efficient?

— Allison Biesboer

It is almost unimaginable to stop UI bugs throughout all streaming gadgets. But, small annoyances finally gained’t cease the most recent unique collection from trending on Twitter. Netflix, HBO, and different streaming companies acknowledge this actuality and focus their vitality on content material creation as a substitute of resolving each UI gripe. Their UI could undergo in consequence, however it hasn’t backfired an excessive amount of for them but.

At the tip of the day, streaming companies must discover a stability between UI/UX and content material. The finest streaming expertise would come with an attractive, usable interface with a library of organized, searchable, high quality content material. The service that reaches this equilibrium first will certainly come out on high.

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