nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Exclusivity will make OTT TV content discovery a nightmare

made2measure

A flood of new SVOD services like SeeSo is making OTT TV content discovery much more complicated. A deal between Apple and Made2Measure could make it even worse.

The rush to deliver subscription VOD services by video content providers is creating a huge headache for consumers. Consider NBC’s just announced SeeSo comedy service. For $3.99 a month, subscribers get access to many of NBC’s extensive comedy library, and some exclusives like Monty Python and an as-yet-to-be announced original series. The problem is much of the content in the service is already available elsewhere.

30 Rock is available on Netflix, Amazon, M-Go, VuDu, and maybe a whole bunch of other places. On Netflix, the show is free with a subscription, while Amazon, M-Go and VuDu offer the episodes for $2 or $3 each, or you can buy the season. Things are even more difficult for an old NBC comedy like Mad About You. Season 1 is available for free ad-supported on Crackle, Seasons 2 and 4 aren’t available on any of the mainstream sites, and Season 3 is available on Amazon for $1.99 an episode.

Now multiply this problem across all the SVOD and advertising VOD services today, and all the ones being readied for release. I’m sure viewers are all for a competitive market for video content, but how on earth can they figure out where to find a show and the best option to view it?

One solution is cross-service search. On Roku, for example, many of the top services work with its unified search, though if a user wants something in AOL On or Acorn TV they’ll be out of luck. Over time, however, we might expect more and more content providers to work with these unified search engines.

The good news for consumers is that content providers have generally seen it in their interest to get their videos on as many devices as possible. To be sure, some get lower prioritization than others, but eventually most providers get around to delivering on most of the mainstream platforms. That means a persistent consumer at least stands a chance of uncovering the content they’re looking for at a price they’re willing to pay. Unfortunately, even this crumb of solace could be about to vanish.

Made2Measure, the ad-supported digital fashion network from WME/IMG, released exclusively on Apple TV this week. This period of exclusivity is set to run through at least the end of this year, when the company says it may begin to release on other platforms. Why would an ad-supported network, which seeks the maximum number of viewers, launch exclusively on just one platform? The Apple brand adds an upmarket air which Mark Shapiro, WME/IMG’s chief content officer, sees as highly desirable. He said: “I’d be hard pressed to tell you about a better marketing partner (than Apple).”

Is he right? According to Parks Associates Brett Sappington, he could be. Mr. Sappington said that the Apple TV behaves more like a premium-priced product, versus Roku or Chromecast. Its users lean slightly toward those with a post-degree education and slightly higher income levels. However, it sounds like Apple TV could hardly be described as the Gucci of streaming media players.

If this approach works well for Made2Measure expect to see many more companies follow suit. And for the hapless viewer, their entertainment life will get a lot more complicated. In addition to hunting across the various AVOD and SVOD apps on one platform, a viewer will need to own multiple streaming media players and switch between TV inputs.

It’s almost enough to make you long for the good old days when we just had pay TV!

Why it matters

As more SVOD and AVOD services arrive, it is getting increasingly difficult for consumers to figure out where the content is, and the best deal to watch it.

Unified search is just beginning to improve the situation on streaming media players like Roku and Nexus Player.

Exclusive platform deals, where a content service agrees to be available on just one streaming media player, threaten to wreck the potential benefits of unified platform search.

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