Custom Content Worth More to Subs


Redmond, Wash. — Research conducted by Microsoft's TV division and global media market analyst Screen Digest indicates that 60% of consumers in seven developed countries would consider switching video service providers that offer better features and content.

The findings, based on responses from “entertainment-oriented” consumers polled in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S., appear to indicate that price is not the key factor in a consumer's decision to switch. Consumers are time-starved and would rather pay current market rates, or even a bit more, to get customized content, said Microsoft TV director of research and positioning Paula Reinman.

The 5,000 consumers polled by phone and online qualified for inclusion in the study if they already paid for video content or spent an above-average amount monthly on entertainment, such as DVDs or movie tickets. These entertainment-oriented consumers are not actually heavy television users, Reinman said. In fact, 43% of respondents indicated they watch less TV than the average household.

Consumers in the survey were also asked to create their ideal TV service from a selection of different features. For instance, a “communications” module added to their entertainment options might include on-screen caller ID and instant messaging; a film and content module might provide the ability to remotely program hardware to record a show; offer expanded information on theatrical content choices; or proffer viewing recommendations.

This part of the study indicated consumers are willing to pay for lifestyle-type feature packages, rather than basing entertainment provider decisions on pricing and channel lineups. Half of the study respondents from across the globe are willing to pay for advanced capabilities beyond basic TV control and management, according to Microsoft TV.

Of U.S. respondents, 15% want basic-content control and management features from their television provider; 10% would like an expert recommendation engine to guide them in their viewing time and remote-DVR programming capabilities, according to Reinman.