Cable TV has long been the dominant source of entertainment in the United States. Cable TV plans are a staple in nearly every American household. But broadcast television programming is no longer the only way for people to find entertaining content, other than live concerts or sports events. While cable TV providers still retain exclusive rights to certain networks and types of content, entertainment channels have grown outside the conventional models. Gamechangers like Netflix have presented audiences all over the world with their on-demand entertainment models. But they’re still far from perfect, which means TV providers have room to come up with their own on-demand streaming alternatives. Read on to find out what useful features an on-demand app should include to increase its user base.
The Best Features to Include in Any On-Demand Streaming App
Access to on-demand content isn’t a trailblazing concept. TV providers have been offering access to on-demand libraries for some time. However, you need to subscribe to the provider’s cable plan first. Then you need to wait for your service to be installed and activated before use. Streaming applications only need you to sign up, own a supported device, and have reliable internet like Optimum internet plans. With the vast penetration of internet services and smartphones, tablets, etc., these on-demand applications are far more accessible than cable TV. This has led to their popular acceptance, not just in the United States, but all over the world.
But even giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime still have limitations. For one thing, licensing issues can force a lot of content off of these platforms. Networks want to retain their most valuable content (and the benefits accruing from them). This often leads to conflicts, and many of the best shows and movies cannot be accessed outside the network’s own distribution channels. In fact, premium networks like HBO and Disney have their own on-demand streaming applications as well. These offer exclusive access to content like Game of Thrones, The Mandalorian, Westworld, and many other acclaimed shows. However, these apps can be even more limited in functionality. They lack various useful features that enhance user experiences. At the very least, every on-demand streaming application should include:
Segmented Search Options
Nothing annoys users as much as having to sift through long lists of titles to look for specific types of content. Segmented searches allow users to conduct narrower targeted searches based on things like genre, release date, critical acclaim, star casts, or even the director’s credentials. The application could also include its own rating system that helps it identify the most viewed content and push it to other users who may find it relevant.
A Complete Title Checklist
Of course, having the ability to conduct segmented searches is great. But the application could also include a checklist for all of its existing content. This can also be used as a way to notify users about new incoming titles or original releases. The checklist should also include how long a title is expected to stay on the title list in case it has been licensed under a third party. Not only does this offer users accurate information on what’s available to watch, but it also encourages them to binge on their favorite shows that are going to move off the platform soon.
Modern users indicate convenience and intuitive interfaces as core parts of a good user interface. Being able to tap or click on the interface is usually the standard way to interact with an app or platform, including on-demand streaming services. However, having to manually interact with a screen may not always be an option, such as when you’re casting on a TV or connect your device via an HDMI cable. You can still search for titles, but most TV or console remotes will make even a simple search seem like a huge ordeal. However, thanks to advancements in voice recognition technology and machine learning, a streaming application could easily include a voice search feature. This elegant solution can help improve user experience and increase app accessibility for older or differently-abled users who may have issues using tech.
Parental Protection Tools
Apps like Netflix usually have a Kids screen. This is usually populated by content and titles aimed at children and younger teenagers. However, it can seem almost impossible to ensure your child will never get access to the whole catalog. There will inevitably be content targeting more mature audiences. Violence, strong language, drug use, etc. onscreen can have varying degrees of impact on young, impressionable minds. But protecting them from it is still a good idea. Therefore, the on-demand application you choose should have built-in parental controls, if you have young kids around the house. These tools should ideally include ways to block searching or accessing mature or Rated-R content. Good ones should also identify parents when such instances occur.
Integration With IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes
Silo apps can often prove to be problematic for users. Especially when everyone is used to having all their needs integrated into the same app or service. IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes are two key sources that people use to find and review movies and apps. Their rating systems are used as a standard across entertainment circles, and can frequently determine how much attention a title receives. However, switching between screens or apps can be a huge annoyance. This is why an app that integrates IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes ratings, reviews, and even plot summaries will always be better.
With internet users all over the world and the increasing use of smartphones and other smart devices with screens, on-demand entertainment is only going to get bigger. It seems unlikely that cable TV providers will die out as a result. But many will need to improve how they deliver access to on-demand content and the features they offer. Both will prove to be key differentiating factors among entertainment consumers of the near future.