Many new digital habits were either formed during, or accelerated by, the pandemic. As people were forced to be socially distanced, things like video calling, social watching, virtual medical appointments, virtual classrooms and online fitness quickly went from relatively rare occurrences to the new normal. This in itself is not surprising. What is notable, however, is how many of these habits appear to have stuck around in a post-pandemic world. Nearly every aspect of our lives is gradually moving online.
At the same time, human beings are social creatures and there is a deep-rooted need to connect and engage with others. This desire to interact exists in the physical as well as in the digital world. Watching Live Sports, TV shows and movies has long been a social experience as most viewers love to discuss characters and storylines with family and friends. Experiencing the same emotions as others, whether that be happiness, surprise, fear or sadness, creates a sense of connection to our peers. The ability to connect with other people as part of the video viewing experience is becoming increasingly important and this demand presents a significant opportunity for video service providers.
So what is required to create the next generation of social video experiences?
Ensuring quality of experience
Social experiences can be incorporated into video services across a range of touch points. So-called watch parties, where friends and family virtually watch live or on-demand content together, are quickly growing in popularity. Many providers also offer participants the ability to chat on a separate device, ensuring that they can stay connected and discuss what’s on screen – just like they would in an IRL setting.
However, these kinds of social video experiences will only be successful if they are seamlessly integrated and of high quality. Real time networks with Ultra Low latency is the key to ensure real or near real reactions while being physically distant from each other. 5G plays a key role in ensuring the network latency issues are minimised but the key lies in building a scalable and secure real time data exchange network with high reliability. All interaction between participants needs to be happening in real time and the UX has to be excellent. As long as you can ensure a high and consistent quality level, there is definitely opportunity to experiment with other kinds of social experiences to complement watch parties and chat functions.
Adding value for viewers
The kind of social functionality that works best for your service largely depends on your content catalog. Providers of sports, music and entertainment live events could, for example, host virtual get togethers before or after the main stream, allowing participants to interact with other fans – or, in some cases, even with the featured celebrity or athlete.
These kinds of digital meet-ups have the potential to generate a lot of added value for fans. They help expand the viewing experience to include not just the live stream itself but also the excitement that builds and lingers before and after an event. For fans, this creates a more comprehensive experience that mimics that of seeing a sports or entertainment event in real life. And for video service providers, it opens up an opportunity for attracting and retaining users’ attention with value-added content in a social, interactive setting. For media rights owners it opens up opportunities to add live commerce and increase engagement through direct celebrity connects.
Engaging in the metaverse
As we discussed in a previous blog, many brands and OTT providers are already taking tentative steps into the metaverse. Social watching experiences can, of course, be very successful without this kind of technology; yet within the metaverse, there is opportunity to expand on these functionalities in a way that makes them even more engaging and interactive.
For example, watch parties can be elevated by placing friends and families in the same virtual room. Add personalized avatars to the equation and you have a fun and social watching experience that in many ways mimics the success already proven in the world of computer gaming.
Unlocking new revenue streams
It goes without saying that high-quality social video experiences can help keep viewers engaged and watching for longer. In addition, these kinds of functionalities increase the likelihood that users will want to invite their peers, meaning a great route for customer acquisition from a service provider perspective. Added to that, the creation of live hosted virtual events (especially those involving celebrities) certainly hold the potential to unlock new monetization opportunities for broadcasters and rights holders alike.
By creating more opportunities for customers to enjoy these kinds of social watching experiences, video service providers can increase engagement and drive additional revenue across a range of touch points. Book a meeting with us at IBC to learn how Accedo can help you take your video business to the next level.
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