4 Ways Media and Entertainment Companies Can Navigate COVID-19

by Digital Europe

Posted on 04-09-2020

By Michael Gri­er, Indus­try Strat­e­gy Leader at Adobe

The fact that many peo­ple are work­ing from home today due to COVID-19 is cer­tain­ly impact­ing media and enter­tain­ment (M&E) brands – not just because peo­ple are con­sum­ing more con­tent, but because employ­ees at M&E com­pa­nies must now com­plete­ly rethink their oper­a­tions, while still meet­ing audi­ence needs.

It will like­ly come as lit­tle sur­prise that con­tent consumption, including news, stream­ing video, web traf­fic and music streaming, has risen con­sid­er­ably in the COVID-19 envi­ron­ment. When con­sumers stay at home amid broad­ly dis­rup­tive events, their media con­sump­tion ris­es near­ly 60% and even more in some cas­es, accord­ing to a Nielsen data analy­sis.

Below we dive into some of the ways that M&E com­pa­nies can nav­i­gate this sea change, as more peo­ple work from home and media con­sump­tion trends con­tin­ue to shift. And we firm­ly believe that firms focus­ing on how to best serve their audi­ences and employ­ees will be the most suc­cess­ful when these chal­leng­ing times pass.

Employ­ee enablement

We know that employ­ee expe­ri­ences (EX) impact cus­tomer expe­ri­ences (CX). In a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion, the link between EX and CX grows stronger. Vir­tu­al­is­ing and find­ing solu­tions for remote work across func­tions such as pro­duc­tion, edit­ing, dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence, and more must be high pri­or­i­ties across media companies. And it shouldn’t be an inter­im solve, either. These chal­leng­ing times make it clear – it’s time to move work­flows online and into the cloud.

Brick-and-mor­tar ser­vice cen­tres have closed, and call cen­tre staffing has been reduced to enforce social dis­tanc­ing. Cus­tomers are being urged to reduce high call vol­umes, which puts less of a strain on the cus­tomer ser­vice team. Leveraging inter­ac­tive voice response, online platforms, and AI chat­bots are some help­ful solu­tions to con­tin­ued cus­tomer ser­vice, with­out over­whelm­ing your employees.

Build­ing com­mu­ni­ties and enhanc­ing rela­tion­ships with con­sumers

Enter­tain­ment is often a com­mu­nal expe­ri­ence. Friends watch movies togeth­er, and music fans attend con­certs together. Now, since many live enter­tain­ment events are can­celled, peo­ple want to be enter­tained at home. Cre­at­ing options for social net­work­ing dur­ing the con­sump­tion of your con­tent can help cre­ate com­mu­ni­ty. Net­flix, for exam­ple, is cur­rent­ly avail­able to watch com­mu­nal­ly via a third-par­ty extension.

Media and enter­tain­ment com­pa­nies should con­sid­er alter­na­tive ways to extend cour­tesy to cus­tomers. Offer­ing extend­ed tri­al peri­ods and free con­tent (Shud­der, Sun­dance Now, and Acorn TV are all doing this) can help build sub­scriber loy­al­ty and may increase con­ver­sion to paid sub­scribers.

Respond­ing to con­sump­tion dynamics

Shifts in view­ing habits are push­ing day­time TV con­sump­tion above typ­i­cal pat­terns, and pro­gram­mers are rapid­ly work­ing to meet both view­er and adver­tis­er demand. With an increase in TV view­er­ship, there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for adver­tis­ers to reach a big­ger cap­tive audi­ence with brand mes­sag­ing – but it must be in good taste giv­en the cur­rent climate.

Remem­ber that in many states con­sumers can’t leave their homes to spend as read­i­ly now. As a result con­tent pro­duc­ers are rethink­ing release sched­ules, con­tent dis­tri­b­u­tion and licens­ing approach­es. For example, Disney altered the domes­tic box office release for “Onward” and made “Frozen 2” avail­able for online stream­ing three months early.

As the new con­tent pipeline slows, companies need to focus now on deliv­er­ing the right con­tent, offer, and mes­sag­ing to the right cus­tomer to increase awareness. Data can be used to tai­lor rec­om­men­da­tions and offer­ings to dri­ve sub­scriber focus on cross-show tar­get­ing and renew inter­est in back-cat­a­logue view­er­ship through enhanced dis­cov­ery.

Under­stand your consumer’s con­text and sentiment

Dur­ing times of crisis, content cre­ators and pub­lish­ers are tasked with pro­vid­ing time­ly, accu­rate news and infor­ma­tion to sub­scribers. But beyond the infor­ma­tion con­veyance to consumers, it gives them an oppor­tu­ni­ty to evolve the over­all cus­tomer expe­ri­ence in tan­gi­ble ways.

For exam­ple, many peo­ple are now fac­ing eco­nom­ic chal­lenges and may have a hard-time pay­ing cell-phone bills, inter­net bills, entertainment sub­scrip­tions, etc. Media and com­mu­ni­ca­tion providers have respond­ed by elim­i­nat­ing data caps (Sprint, T‑Mobile), waiv­ing late pay­ment fees (Citi, Apple, Bar­clays), and sus­pend­ing ter­mi­na­tion of ser­vice (AT&T, Com­cast) for cus­tomers unable to pay bills for the near term.

Media com­pa­nies can fol­low suit, to show cus­tomers that we are all try­ing to man­age things dur­ing these try­ing times. And some already are. In fact, many broad­cast­ers are using unsold ad inven­to­ry to deliv­er pub­lic ser­vice announce­ments to try to keep the pub­lic informed and safe. Publishers like The New York Times are pro­vid­ing free access to COVID-19 cov­er­age, and Dish Network’s Sling TV is pro­vid­ing free news and enter­tain­ment con­tent dur­ing this time as well.

M&E firms can be a guid­ing bea­con of how to best serve the com­mu­ni­ty in the jour­ney forward

His­tor­i­cal­ly speaking, media and enter­tain­ment has always played a role in lift­ing spir­its and uni­fy­ing peo­ple to come out of dif­fi­cult times with renewed vigour and optimism. M&E com­pa­nies focused on ded­i­ca­tion to the very best in cus­tomer expe­ri­ence will lead the way in audi­ence loy­al­ty and view­er­ship growth in the post-COVID-19 environment.

Topics: Digital Transformation, consumer, Customer Experience, Customer Relationship Management, M&E, Media and Entertainment, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA