Seven out of ten broadband households in the United States with a major video service consider its user interface to be good, with 48% rating it very good. Research suggests that the quality of the user interface and ease of finding content are the most likely factors driving the recommendation of a video service to others.

A report on UI Preferences and Content Discovery from Parks Associates examines consumer preferences related to new user interface options and the ways that consumers find, and want to find, entertainment content. It also explores preferences by owners of various in-home devices and examines interest in new innovations such as smart speakers, personal assistants, and voice interaction, revealing opportunities and barriers to adoption.

“User interfaces are a key factor driving satisfaction for OTT services, and Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon — the big three in OTT streaming — have largely set the standard for content navigation and ease of use,” said Kristen Hanich of Parks Associates.

“Other services have had to follow similar structures established by these three, but as new OTT services launch with greater and greater expectations, innovations in UIs could be an even greater differentiator contributing to their success or failure.”

“Consumers are interested in finding particular shows or genres of content and have less interest in browsing by channel,” Hanich said.

Interestingly, the research found that when searching for something to watch only 12% of online video users consider recommendations from the service as their first step.

That said, recommendations come in many forms, from editorial promotion, genre classification and algorithmic suggestions, which may not be immediately apparent to users.

The objective of video-on-demand services is to propose programmes that the user wants to watch, rather than picking through a bargain bin of box sets that they have seen before.

Some services may be more successful in achieving this than others. Significantly, the report suggests that a fifth of households cancelling an online video subscription cited the inability to find something to watch as a factor.