Personal Channels — Linear is Not Dead; Linear is Now Personalized

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Personalization is a hot topic in the media and streaming industry. To differentiate and stay ahead of the curve, content and service providers are racing to personalize their content and the user experience. That’s because in today’s fragmented streaming market, viewers have the option to consume the same content in different ways via multiple services. While their geographical location once defined what they could see, that is today no longer the case. The same content is often available on different streaming services around the world, giving viewers an explosion of content options. So how can each service differentiate from the competition to retain and attract subscribers? The answer is personal channels. Linear is not dead; linear is now personalized. 

What are Personal Channels?

Personalization is the process of tailoring content, recommendations, and experiences to individual users based on their preferences, behaviors, and demographics. Adding personal channels to your streaming plan will help make your service stand out. A broad term encompassing different aspects, “personal channels” designates a channel where everything — including the user interface, messaging, content, and ads — can be personalized. The ultimate personalization use case is personal linear channels. These are created with a personal schedule matching each viewer’s tastes and can be presented in electronic programming guides (EPGs) as “For You” channels. And there’s no reason to limit the concept to one channel per user. Content and service providers can create several personal channels for each subscriber. These can be classified by genre, topic, or current events. For example, each subscriber could receive “For You Drama”, “For You Cooking”, “For You News”, etc. personal channel genres.

Couple watching personal channels on TV.

Personalization Offers a Wealth of Benefits 

In today’s digital landscape, many service and content providers offer personalized experiences. In fact, failing to personalize channels can put you at a competitive disadvantage. Viewers may opt for competitors who offer more tailored experiences. Without it, you may miss out on opportunities to upsell, cross-sell, or recommend products and content that viewers are more likely to purchase. 

With the advancement of AI and machine learning models, predictions have become more accurate regarding what content each viewer would like to watch, on which device, and at what time of day. Models can be developed and refined with several data sources to increase their accuracy. For example, operators can mix customer demographic data with declared and contextual data to infer the best content recommendations to be scheduled as a personal channel for the subscriber. 

Offering personal channels brings major benefits: 

Boost Revenue

Without personalization, growth potential may be limited. Personalization can help you retain subscribers by catering to a broader range of user preferences. Personal channels are an incremental inventory that you can also offer to advertisers and monetize with addressable ad breaks using SSAI.  

Increase Watch Time

Viewers may find it challenging to discover relevant content or products, leading to frustration and lower engagement levels. Viewers watch more when live channels are personally curated for them. And this increased watch time means a bigger inventory and greater revenue. 

Reduce Churn

When users are not receiving content or recommendations that resonate with them, they are more likely to abandon the service or unsubscribe. By offering linear channels better suited to each viewer’s tastes, you not only increase viewer engagement; you also retain their loyalty to your service.

Add Value for Advertisers 

Personal channels are a rich advertising inventory that allows you to target specific user segments with relevant marketing campaigns. For example, a personal live channel made with recommended automotive content is the perfect environment for a car manufacturer to advertise. Your advertisers will compete to book campaigns on personal channels.  

Optimize Return on Assets

Your archives are stocked with idle long-tail content. Don’t let it just sit there taking up space and growing cobwebs. Use it to engage your viewers and give them the optimum lean-back watch experience they crave.

The Secret of Success for Personal Channels

The fuel for creating these personal channels is first-party subscriber data. As subscribers spend a considerable amount of time on the streaming service every day, operators can collect data about each one to understand their behavior and tastes. This data can then be leveraged to create personal channels that entice them to watch. In the end, these solutions will help you thrive in today’s highly competitive business environment.

Content and service providers are now moving toward collecting and activating first-party data with advertising cookies being deprecated. First-party data can take the form of acquired demographics data in the subscriber account, declared data in surveys, and behavioral data acquired by tracking and analyzing the viewer behavior on the service. 

Once first-party data is available, it can be activated for creating personal channels. Recommendation engines also play a role in recommending content as they can predict which pieces of content will appeal to each viewer.

Ateme Gets Personal

Ateme has an end-to-end solution to add personal channels to your features mix. Our simple scheduling interface for personal channels eases the integration with customer data management platforms (DMPs) and recommendation engines. It includes everything you need as a service or content provider to create personal channels easily and quickly, with minimum disruption to your VOD workflow. In other words, you won’t need to change your VOD serving mechanism, origin, DRM, or CDN.  

When it comes to personalization, Ateme focuses on personalizing both the content and the ads. With manifest manipulation technology, you can swap original content segments with personalized ones in clients’ HLS or DASH manifests.  

Do you think your subscribers need personal channels? Tell us in the comments section below — we’d love to hear your thoughts! 

And for more information on personalizing ads with manifest manipulation, download our white paper here.

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