Consumer Panel: Word of Mouth a Top Way to Get Content Recommendations

Despite the use of data and algorithms to attempt to serve up content consumers want, consumers on a panel said word of mouth was one of the top ways they find new stuff to watch.

The panel during OTT.X@Pipeline 2020 was moderated by Thomas K. Arnold, publisher and editorial director of Media Play News.

“Word of mouth among friends is big,” said Joe Carlson of Noblesville, Ind.

In addition to word of mouth, said Ava Payne, of Carlsbad, Calif., “if I want to watch a show I kind of spend time researching.” One of her favorites is Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” She said she looks at reviews, as well as filmmakers and cast.

Zachary Kennedy, of Long Beach, Calif., said, “I read the trades an unhealthy amount,” paying close attention to content from filmmakers and actors “that he loves.” He also relies on awards shows, having discovered “Mr. Robot” when Rami Malek received an Emmy award.

“I trust the Emmys more than Netflix,” he said.

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In the early days of the pandemic, Devonee Alfrey, of Carlsbad, Calif., admitted she got roped into the Netflix “Tiger King” series hype.

“I can’t believe I sat down and watched the whole thing,” she said, calling it “a great waste of time.”

“Now, I would never watch it because it’s just terrible,” she said.

Erik Parker, of Albuquerque, N.M., said he was inspired by news coverage to watch HBO’s documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”

Parker saw on the news that, during the series, “he admitted to killing people on the show.”

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Despite the rise of ad-supported video-on-demand, most on the panel said they were happy to pay a price to avoid ads.

“With Hulu we do have the more expensive one,” said Alfrey. “I don’t like commercials.”

Kennedy, too, said he pays more for Hulu with no ads.

Still, some said it depended on the content whether they’d put up with ads.

Carlson doesn’t like ads, but he does watch AVOD service Pluto TV: “They have some weird stuff on there.”

Parker likes to go ad-free with particularly engrossing content, but “if it’s just a cooking show, I wouldn’t mind.”

Kennedy said he likes AVOD service Tubi: “They have interesting stuff on there that isn’t available elsewhere.”

Still, he pointed out a big weakness with streaming ads — that they are often repeated too much.

Parker agreed.

“Last time I was paying for the ad-supported version of Hulu, every single ad break would be the same four ads,” he said. “That was very frustrating to sit through.”

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