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Key global themes

Beyond digital:

Empowered consumers demand choice and convenience that transcend platforms

As the smoke clears over the entertainment and media landscape after a decade and more of digital disruption, and the industry continues its efforts to keep pace with advancing consumer expectations, it’s increasingly evident that there is no significant divide between digital and traditional media in the minds and wallets of consumers. What we have instead is a fluid and multifaceted ecosystem – one where new digital offerings have created a bigger, more diverse content universe, and where digital has accelerated delivery across platforms. As a result, consumers now have more choice and convenience than ever before with regard to how they access and consume entertainment and media.

When enabled to do so through the right infrastructure and devices, consumers are consistently demonstrating that they will migrate to those offerings that combine an outstanding user experience – attractive content assortment, great discovery, social community – with an intuitive service layer or interface that offers access across devices and increased personalisation. These consumer-driven dynamics bring transformational implications for players across the media and entertainment industry as they seek to benefit economically from these shifts. The challenge of achieving this is heightened by the fact that the consumer has never been more up for grabs than he or she is today.

Amid this proliferation of content and access choices, what we have learned so far is that consumers want more flexibility and freedom – for which read “choice” – in when and how they consume. They don’t want schedules – they want it on-demand. It’s also increasingly clear that they want it mobile too. Furthermore, consumers are engaging readily with content experiences that they can’t get easily elsewhere – experiences that may be perishable or proprietary, but which, more importantly, embed them in a rewarding social experience. Hence the enduring appeal of shared, real-life experiences like cinema, live concerts, and sporting events which not only co-exist happily alongside digital alternatives, but also have been reenergised by the growth of digital and social media.

"What matters now is the ability to combine content with a user experience that is differentiated and compelling on the consumer’s platform of choice."

The major strategic issue for entertainment and media companies operating in this environment is how to grow consumer engagement and monetise it at sufficient scale. As before, compelling, locally relevant content is a key piece of the puzzle: great content can keep consumers coming back for more. But it’s not enough. There are very real new capability requirements. What matters now is the ability to combine content with a user experience that is differentiated and compelling on the consumer’s platform of choice.

These requirements create three imperatives for entertainment and media companies. First, continue innovating, particularly around the product and the overall user experience, so that it becomes more personalised, more engaging, easier to discover, and more flexible to accommodate different combinations of advertising, subscription and transactions. Such innovation may increasingly involve identifying new partners who can fast-track the process.

Second, stop compartmentalising your consumer relationships by distribution channel – manage them more directly, holistically and via segments that are anchored in richer user profiles and powered by deeper data and analytics expertise. This is what’s required to make the right choices related to content production, distribution and monetisation. An overriding principle within this must be the creation and nurturing of a trusted relationship where consumers feel that the organisation values and protects the data that is being gathered from and about them.

Third, put mobile (increasingly video) at the centre of your consumer’s experience – it’s now the first screen, located at the heart of the individual’s personal proximity and social network.

Finally, all of this will necessitate a hard look at the talent and organisational structure within entertainment and media companies, and the alignment of their performance measures with overall strategy. While this may seem self-evident, it remains a major challenge that many companies are struggling to overcome as they transform their operations to engage today’s consumer.

Put simply, it’s time to embrace the fact that mastering the user experience is critical to success in this industry – and key both to monetising consumers and sustaining growth.