The rise of mobile technology and social media has pushed the television industry into a period of rapid and dramatic change. Long gone are the days when a select group of broadcast and cable networks claimed the primetime attention of every American viewer. In the modern age of pervasive entertainment, television networks must compete not only with their industry peers, but with a vast array of free, subscription, user-generated, and viral content online. Today, homemade cat videos represent a viable entertainment alternative to long-form, episodic content.
Turner’s flagship brands, TNT and TBS, knew they needed to offer viewers the ability to watch the programming of their choice whenever and wherever they happen to be, and it had to be a premium experience. This new segment of viewers—those who’ve “binge-watched” their favorite shows online—is increasingly motivated to tune in to traditional, or linear, television to catch (or record) the latest episodes.
It was critical, Turner executives knew, for their networks to better support their audiences’ new, multi-modal television viewing experience. Leveraging the diverse skills of Continuum’s team, Turner set out to define a multiplatform viewing experience that would engage viewers and create an enhanced brand experience.
Research & Insights
Entertainment Should Feel Easy
Our qualitative research revealed that most online TV experiences lacked the simple and easy feel of linear television. No longer could you simply hit a power button or channel up on the remote. Complex navigation schemes and tedious login requirements made streaming online television feel like more work than it was worth.
Looking Through a New Lens
Throughout our process, we used storyboards and animated simulations to convey the contextual experience of an individual online viewer, and the ways in which he or she interacted with on-screen events. For an industry highly attuned to the broadcast signal, this newfound perspective helped better communicate to the client the meaning behind our recommendations. These same visual resources enabled our client partners to align stakeholders across their organization around this new concept.
A New Kind of Advertising
While advertising revenue remains the fuel of the television industry, we discovered that online platforms presented unique challenges and opportunities for advertising. Given the more direct and personal relationship between online viewer and screen, as well as the added opportunity for two-way interaction, we developed approaches for Turner’s digital advertising that were more relevant and targeted than their linear counterparts.
The Rewards of Close Collaboration
By working in partnership with Turner’s strategy, technical, and design groups throughout the course of our project, our team was able to ensure that our proposed solutions were viable given Turner’s existing IT systems and could be implemented quickly. Close collaboration made it possible to meet aggressive deadlines—progressing from our kickoff meeting to final handoff in under four months’ time.
Continuum developed the concept for Turner’s new online viewing platform, including the critical documentation and core design assets. This new platform is optimized for the key forms of connected devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs), and offers Turner’s online audiences a viewing experience that is effortless, individualized, and interactive.
Turner launched the first two components of this new online viewing platform, the TBS.com and TNTDrama.com sites, in June of 2014. After making the switch, both sites experienced a significant increase in viewership.
Turner programming has experienced triple digit increases in viewership when comparing year-over-year results. Site tracking shows that viewers are able to successfully navigate to desired content with greater speed and accuracy. People using the platform to watch the NBA All-Star game increased 145%, and total video starts grew by 37%. All and all, an impressive beginning.