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More choice, less action: the content provider paradox

TeresaPotockaTeresa PotockaCEO & Founder of Sensethefuture Pictures, part of The Potocki Communications Company, looks at how OTT services can optimise their offer to maximise appeal, without leaving subscribers spoilt for choice.

Netflix and Amazon have demonstrated that a few high-profile shows can drive subscriber numbers. While channel brands so far have tended to serve as signposts for content, both platforms continue to be the go-to places for subscribers who seek familiar destinations that simplify the browse process for popular shows.  

Significant investment in new types of content is being reflected more and more in the building of new ecosystems around the content with niche services as strategic entry points for providers delivering regional OTT services.

Besides platform providers increasingly offering access only to exclusive content, live sports, early release VOD and UltraHD content, new destinations are being created to serve lurker communities who express themselves through their emotional ties with the content, self-reflection, and the manifestation of intimacy.

The current backdrop for increasing subscriber numbers around shows like The Crown and specific destinations like HBO can be best viewed in the context of the paradox of choice.

"The current backdrop for increasing subscriber numbers around shows like The Crown and specific destinations like HBO can be best viewed in the context of the paradox of choice."

A recent TiVo survey found that respondents only need 18 channels on average to create their ideal à la carte channel line-up, but in the context of the paradox of choice, we would question whether this would result in higher viewership.

Here's a reminder of how the logic generally plays out: Imagine that you run a business that sells content. You currently offer six channels. You decide that if you expand your offering to 24 channels then the increased options will result in more people being able to find a channel that they really enjoy. And that, in turn, will result in more sales.

Increasingly, the scientific/academic community have been churning out studies that prove emphatically that more options always lead to fewer actions. In the context of the paradox of choice 18 channels may result in viewers accessing more of the content they desire through content discovery options, but it will not result in higher sales.

Any show only has control over what happens within its time slot and we are more likely to see content spill over where shows super-serve their current and future fan base and where identification is based on the relationship of the storylines with their own lives, with no attempts at constructing a cultural or political identity.


When The Crown started becoming this juggernaut for subscribers it was clear that stories with a historical heritage at the core are underserved.

Destinations that make complex decisions simple for consumers when in relaxation mode continue to support the vision that the future of television is a world in which consumers pay only for the channels they want.

When we began analysing our customer base for an OTTtv service currently under development, we arrived at fewer options that Sensethefuture Pictures would provide as part of its offering.

And in repositioning the company, the decision was taken that the output should also extend to the delivery of the specialist OTTtv service aimed at a younger, more affluent adult audience with an appetite for human interest programmes.

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