’60 Seconds and counting…and then I’m gone’..

I was fascinated to learn about the science Netflix is using to make sure they grab subscriber attention as quickly as possible. I have blogged on many occasions regarding the importance of content and how it is the quality of content that will win the war for subscribers but there is a further level of complexity that plays a crucial role.

Netflix research has indicated that unless they capture the interest of subscribers within the first 60-90 seconds then there is real chance the opportunity to secure subscriber interest is lost – the Netflix user may read a book or watch TV instead.

I know that when I switch on my Sky service and flick through channels, I am looking for something that interests me quickly. There is sometimes too much choice, but then without this, I would be less inclined to pay for the service. I am impatient by nature and if I don’t find something compelling quickly, I will turn the TV off and probably grab a book or be on the net via my iPad.

This is not an issue for my pay-TV subscriber as I still have the service, but it brings into sharp focus the pressure OTT providers such as Netflix are under to be able to entice, secure, and then retain subscribers. If you purchase a free trial and barely watch any of the shows on Netflix, for example, it is unlikely that you will switch to become a paying customer.

Conversely if you are an existing customer and get bored with the selection on offer, or find it tedious trying to search for something you will consider your options.

Their response is impressive in my view and comes back to a consistent theme that delivering a great customer experience through personalization is the key to keeping customers happy. Netflix is using its global preference data to ensure the recommendations to existing customers are as ‘tailored’ and effective as possible.

Amazon has done similar work brilliantly in recent years, and I know that I am personally a victim of their system – it has me purchasing items before I even decide I need to buy them. Typically this is because the recommendations prompt me for items I may need to re-purchase or have enjoyed and would like to buy again. Similarly with TV, if I get great recommendations on sports documentaries or thrillers I am even more likely to keep the service.

Alongside a continuing investment in content, I think this is a smart approach from Netflix. Having great content is only part of the story: making sure it continually evolves and learns from your customers’ viewing habits is undoubtedly the next step.

Photo by Helge Thomas licensed under Creative Commons.

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