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Can recommendations stem the show dumping epidemic?

Show dumping around the world

Never have there been so many places a person can go to watch TV. Yet reaching the end of a favorite show’s season leaves many scrambling for the next episode. This, according to TiVo, has led to an alarming number of people giving up on their favorite TV programs.

The emergence of show dumping

Last year I was indulging a guilty pleasure: binge watching Warehouse 13 on Netflix. I reached the cliffhanger finale of season 4, only to find Netflix did not have season 5. It was available through Amazon Video, for $1.99 an episode. But paying $30 for the next season just seemed too much. So, I abandon the show and moved on.

I am not alone in this behavior. According to new data from TiVo*, 37% of global viewers have given up on a show they love because access became too costly or difficult. This so-called “show dumping” behavior is worst in China, where 55% say they have done it. Japan and the UK have the least occurrence of show dumping, with 25% and 26% respectively.

The company comments that accessibility could be the issue:

“As video entertainment evolves and quality content floods the market, accessibility is increasingly important as viewership becomes more transient (particularly for content requiring premium pay-TV packages and/or additional OTT subscription fees.)”

Recommendations to the rescue?

That was certainly my experience. Netflix recommended another show (Dark Matter) after I had finished the season 4 finale of Warehouse 13. I watched the first episode of Dark Matter and was interesting enough that I forgot all about season 5 of Warehouse 13.

The recommendation from Netflix I received was extremely influential in my decision not to pay for Warehouse 13.  And TiVo has data which reinforces just how important search and recommendation is to any video service.

The company compared how long people spent viewing video each day with their satisfaction with search and recommendations. Those that were least satisfied with recommendations watched 4.4 hours a day, and those that were most satisfied watched 7.5 hours. Those least satisfied with search watched 4.7 hours a day, and those most satisfied watched 6.8 hours.

Effectiveness of recommendations and searchThe company says that those most satisfied with search watched 21% more than the average viewer, and those most satisfied with recommendations watched 34% more.

Recommendations are becoming increasingly important to consumers. TiVo/Digitalsmiths asked US pay TV subscribers if their operator provided recommendations. In Q2 2016, 68% said they did not receive recommendations and 47% of those said they wanted them. Two years ago 74% weren’t receiving recommendations and 39% wanted them.

The age group most amenable to recommendations is the millennials. 53% say they want recommendations on what to watch and 55% say they would pay to simplify search (though TiVo didn’t say how much!) Boomers were the least interested in getting help with something to watch. Just 14% want recommendations and just 8% would be willing to pay to simplify search.

Though the data isn’t conclusive, it suggests that good search and recommendations tools could be instrumental in reversing the show dumping epidemic.

Why it matters

The many sources of TV content at a viewer’s disposal often make it difficult to find episodes of a beloved show.

This is leading to an epidemic of “show dumping” – giving up on a treasured show because it is too hard to find.

Recommendations and search could be a key tool in the reduction of show dumping.

*The survey was originally fielded by Rovi. The company changed its name after it acquired TiVo.

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