Tuning in to what viewers want

TiVo is transforming content discovery with technology based on machine-learning for a more personalised user experience

In the current golden, or even platinum, age of television, when critically acclaimed, high-quality and inventive shows populate the airwaves, viewers are truly spoilt for choice. Content production continues to grow globally year on year; in the United States alone, there were almost 500 original scripted series produced in 2018, leading to an overwhelming amount of content for consumers to navigate.

The almost never-ending stream of new content is making it more difficult for consumers to find programming they are interested in, without having to manually search through hundreds of irrelevant programmes. Just a few years ago, personal recommendation tools were typically based on simple content metadata connections, along the lines of “you watched this particular programme, here are more shows like that”, which lacked a highly personal approach.

Thanks in part to innovative machine-learning technologies, new solutions are now available that take a much more sophisticated approach, by analysing viewership patterns by device, day and time of day, to make accurate predictions and recommendations for viewers.

“Marketers and service providers are realising that this personalised experience is a true differentiator for them in an increasingly crowded and fragmented content environment,” says Walt Horstman, senior vice president of advanced media and advertising at TiVo, a global leader in entertainment technology and audience insights.

“The amount of choice in the market for the consumer has really served as an impetus for both service and content providers to think of how they can best bring simplicity and intelligence to the way content is shown to their consumers, so viewers remain engaged, loyal and, ultimately, help improve the bottom line.”


In a changing media landscape, it’s essential to utilise personalised content discovery tools and provide a data-driven user experience, if consumers are to remain engaged and receive the most relevant content they’re most likely to enjoy. This ensures a high level of engagement which presents many opportunities for advertising monetisation.

Data-driven insights are paramount to making the content recommendation experience fully personalised. Data forms the base level for all these solutions and then a whole host of sophisticated machine-learning tools are applied to recommend the right content for individual consumers. These predictions are continuously refined so deep and meaningful insights into consumer behaviour can be extracted.

TiVo’s service will present a host of recommendations, which are personalised and predictive of what the consumer wants to watch

When the consumer is receiving content suggestions that are closely aligned to their interests, not only will the content provider ensure the viewer is enjoying the programming, but advertisers and marketers will have a more engaged consumer for effective monetisation through relevant, targeted advertising.

“For example, on weekdays consumers are focused on watching content that they have already started and catching up on regular programming they have missed. But on weekends, their behaviour is much more expansive and they are open to exploring a broad array of new content,” says Mr Horstman.

Companies in the media industry that don’t fully embrace data-driven insights and incorporate them into the wider user experience will soon realise they don’t have a real understanding of what the consumer truly wants and will not be able to merchandise their content effectively.

Uninformed approaches that put the burden on the user as opposed to making the experience easy, engaging and personalised are being left behind as innovative solutions begin to fundamentally shift what the user experience can look like.

TiVo’s Personalised Content Discovery platform is revolutionising the way content is delivered to viewers by giving content producers and service providers the ability to optimise content discovery, target promotions and monitor audience engagement.

Research from TiVo has found that the consumers who are using their Personalised Content Discovery offering are three times less likely to churn, than those who find content in other ways.

“This directly translates to the bottom line for the service provider, content provider and, ultimately, even enhances the effectiveness of advertising because there is a more engaged and loyal consumer population, which improves the profitability for all participants in the ecosystem,” says Mr Horstman.


Beyond the personalised recommendation and predictions engine, there are monetisation opportunities through TiVo’s recently launched advertising product called Sponsored Discovery, which is a native ad unit within a recommendation experience that a content marketer can use to promote their particular piece of content.

Whether it’s to drive audiences to a new show for binge watching or for catch-up purposes, Sponsored Discovery is targeted based on the viewership preferences of consumers and helps make promotions contextually relevant.

Pie charts detailing TV content discovery churn rates

“Some of the initial results we’ve had with Sponsored Discovery campaigns are showing lifts of greater than 140 per cent in tune-in conversion of those people who have seen this sponsored unit compared with those who haven’t,” says Mr Horstman.

The holistic approach that TiVo embraces in the entire end-to-end discovery experience sets them apart from competitors in the media industry. The Conversation offering uses sophisticated natural language understanding capabilities and gives the consumer the ability to pick up their remote and simply ask, “What’s on TV tonight?”.

TiVo’s service will present a host of recommendations, which are personalised and predictive of what the consumer wants to watch, at that time on that specific day of the week.

“Conversation is the gateway for consumers to get into the content. Then, of course, we have the full suite of insights and data collection that give service providers and content providers a deep understanding of the different audiences who are engaging with their content,” says Mr Horstman.

“They can understand the effectiveness of the recommendations and start to fine-tune different merchandising promotions, all within this suite for the discovery process.”

By taking a comprehensive view of the entire discovery process, TiVo enables the world’s leading media and entertainment providers to deliver an unrivalled entertainment experience. “There isn’t anyone else within our ecosystem, or within the entertainment world, who provides such comprehensive capabilities,” Mr Horstman concludes.

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