The new face of home entertainment at the times of COVID-19

Posted on: May 15, 2020 by Mauro Starinieri

We are experiencing unprecedented times in almost any country due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Our lives have changed dramatically. When immediate crisis has past, we probably will not be able to live how we used to. We will have to think differently and to find new and the best ways to do things. We will have to adapt, to change the way we interact with others, and in many cases revise the way we work to produce products or to deliver services, and even the way we entertain.

In fact, as with almost any other industry, this crisis is impacting the media and entertainment industry across the entire value chain. Let’s start to consider those impacts by looking at what is happening on the media content consumption side.

The need to comfort and de-stress drives media consumption at the times of COVID-19

The general lockdown is forcing many people to stay at home. Many are also working from home, with the distinction among professional and personal life that is more and more blurred. The usual entertainment venues are closed, so more than ever, the home entertainment is the only way most of the people have to entertain themselves and escape from the emotional stress created by the overall situation. Netflix acquired almost 16 million new subscribers in the first quarter (ending March 31) - much more than what they expected - and saw viewership soar as well. A recent study from Nielsen says that 60% of people are engaging more with entertainment, looking specifically for content (movies, TV series, music, books, videogames) that they know and are familiar with. This is a sort of nostalgia about the pre-covid19 normality and a way to have some consolation against the stress caused by the many concerns that the outbreak is generating.

Moreover, when the immediate crisis ends, cinemas, theaters, parks, etc. likely will not reopen quickly so consumption of audiovisual , video gaming, and social media interactions will, for a quite some time, be a major source of entertainment.

AI and automation to optimize media assets management systems and increase end-user satisfaction

That means that the ability of the media providers to offer the right content on their platforms is key for matching their audiences’ expectations in these very unusual times. For the established media organizations, there is the opportunity of reinvigorating their content archives to answer the current nostalgia-driven demand of comfortable and familiar content.

But, to reuse their archives effectively, the media organizations need to catalog and easily access the content they have. That means two things:

  1. Extensive content metadata,
  2. and effective media assets management systems.

So, the automation of content metadata enrichment is a key business success factor for media organization to satisfy the growing demand of their audiences. Additionally, for all the content distributors, like the Streaming Video on Demand service providers, there is the opportunity to maximize the use of their catalogs, by making them easily reachable by their subscribers with a proper Artificial intelligence (AI)/Machine learning (ML)-instrumented content recommendation platform, steered by consumers’ habits and business-related rules.

On one side, the platform can catalog the available content based on their characteristics through semantic analysis algorithms. On the other side, each user is profiled based on his or her behaviors and attitudes, for identifying and predicting what content to recommend. It is not only the matter about matching consumers preferences, but also about increasing the appetite for consuming more and more content. We all know how easy it is to find ourselves watching our preferred TV series for hours.

Going beyond content customization to recreate a more social and engaging home entertainment experience

How do we compensate, for example, the lack of the enjoyment of the social aspects of watching a movie in a cinema with friends? In these times of lockdown and social distancing, we are realizing more than before that what's important is not only what content we consume, but also how we consume it. We understand how we lack the sensation of sharing the same experience with others, at the same time and in the same place. Basically, we need to make more social the audiovisual entertainment at home.

During this crisis, we are also discovering how the need of interaction caused an amazing creativity on messaging and social network platforms like WhatsApp and TikTok, with tons of user-generated content coming from anywhere in the planet. This trend could lead to new content creation and consumption models that content creators, broadcasters, pay TV operators, OTT media service providers, social media, messaging and collaboration platforms should think about. There is potential to render their services in a more synergistically connected way to make the home entertainment experience more social, and so much more engaging and pleasant for their audiences and consumers. The “Netflix Party” is just one recent sample of how the home entertainment is evolving in these COVID-19 times.

At the end of the day, it is in the DNA of the media and entertainment industry to be strictly connected to the feelings of the people. Today, the social benefits of this connection are even more valuable than ever.

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About Mauro Starinieri
Head of Global OSS/MANO Competence Center
Mauro has more than 30 years of experience in the IT, telecommunication and media industry. With more than 11 years of experience in telecom OSS domain, he is currently leading the global OSS and Management & Orchestration (MANO) competence center, supporting a wide variety of telcos in transforming their operation support applications for the digital services and the next generation networks. He is responsible for building, managing and promoting the Atos OSS/MANO solutions to drive the growth of Atos business around the OSS/MANO domain. Mauro has also served as global portfolio manager for the media market. In his career he played many different roles in technical, business development and sales areas. Before joining Atos, he worked at Siemens, HP and IBM.

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