StopPress caught up with Juliet Peterson, Senior Director of Content and BVOD, and James Hole, Senior Director of Revenue, at Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ to get their insights into the creation of the revamped ThreeNow platform and how brands stand to benefit from this transformation.
How does the new ThreeNow improve the viewing experience for audiences? Are there particular features or functionalities that stand out?
Juliet: ThreeNow has undergone a full redesign, making it comparable to competing global platforms. Audiences can seamlessly transition between live TV, video on demand (VOD) and our ThreeNow exclusive streaming channels – all in one place. They can also access every available episode of a show straight from the on-screen guide when watching live TV, which is just one of the many new features we’ll be rolling out across ThreeNow in the coming months. Viewers will also notice the picture quality on the FTA channels is far greater streaming at 1080p.
A standout for me and a New Zealand first, is the addition of a number of live TV streaming channels, known as FAST channels. We currently have four FTA channels and five ThreeNow exclusive streaming channels, with more to come. ThreeNow is the best way to watch linear live TV alongside VOD shows.
What motivated the addition of these new exclusive live-streaming channels to ThreeNow? Could you share insights into the content strategy behind these channels and their appeal to viewers?
Our live-streaming channels are designed to give viewers more of what they love, exclusively on ThreeNow. We know that people sometimes love to keep things simple and just “watch what’s on now” and these channels are specially curated to meet that need and make it really simple for viewers to be entertained with a range of different genres. If they like what they see, we have a novel link to the VOD episodes for the current show they’re watching so they can delve deeper.
These channels also provide a new way to experience streaming and alleviate that scroll paralysis – jump into a franchise or genre that takes your fancy and you’re on your way. What’s great about these channels – when you find something you really like, you’ll be able to easily navigate to the show page to find more episodes on demand or save to your watchlist for later. We absolutely see this having a positive impact on user engagement and increasing time spent viewing on the platform. In fact, 1 in 4 live streams on ThreeNow are currently coming from FAST. We believe they will help facilitate exploration, prompting retention.
So far, we have launched five live-streaming channels with WBTV Paranormal, WBTV Reality, WBTV House Hunters, WBTV True Crime and WBTV 90 Day Fiancé, and these are available alongside our existing free-to-air channels, Three, Bravo, Rush and eden. The beauty for viewers is that there’s more to come as we continue to add different content options so there’s truly something for everyone.
How has the ease of navigating through channels improved in the revamped ThreeNow platform?
This is a very exciting part of the new ThreeNow – while watching live TV, you can easily multitask and browse the programme guide as an overlay, while you continue watching. This means there’s no pesky need to jump in and out or leave the stream when you want to see what else is on now, next or later.
In what ways does the new ThreeNow prioritise the consumer? Could you elaborate on features or decisions that reflect this consumer-centric focus?
Offering our viewers the best possible experience was at the heart of every decision we made when developing the new ThreeNow. As the platform was being completely redesigned, we were always thinking of why these changes would be beneficial to the end user and asked ourselves how this improved their experience. The rich visual enhancements immediately make ThreeNow feel more welcoming. Audiences will want to look around and see more – then when they do, they will find it easier to get the information they want quickly. Oversized show tile images quickly make it clear what the new and trending shows are that our viewers won’t want to miss and the improved prominence of the Watch List feature and page makes it easier for our subscribers to find those shows they’ve been wanting to watch, and of course, we added the much needed ‘continue watching’ rail so you can quickly pick up where you left off. The new ThreeNow is a simpler and more enjoyable experience for our audiences.
Could you explain more about the automatic streaming feature for episodes within the platform? How does this impact user engagement and retention?
This is what we call the “Easy Watch” feature – one press episode prompts to make watching the next episode super-easy. We anticipate this simple addition will result in increased time spent on the ThreeNow.
You mentioned that the platform enhances opportunities for partners to engage with audiences. Could you expand on how brands will benefit from this enhanced engagement?
James: Our enhanced user experience and refined content strategies are opening new doors for our partners to sponsor and seamlessly integrate their brands within our platform. By offering an engaging environment, we’re providing a unique opportunity for partners to connect with an audience that’s not just present, but involved and receptive to their messages.
Our focus on an actively engaged audience sets us apart. We’re committed to delivering an experience where viewers are immersed in their viewing, allowing for a greater receptiveness to partner messages.
We ensure that sponsored content aligns seamlessly with our user experience, maintaining high engagement levels and enhancing the overall interaction between brands and our audience.
The integration of live TV, video on demand, and Fast channels in one place sounds impressive. How will this consolidation impact user behaviour or engagement patterns, based on available insights?
This is all about supporting consumer behaviour as they shift into the digital environment. Global trends show that providing choices in ways of viewing (anywhere, anytime), coupled with the navigation tools to help stop the scroll result in further growth of streams and time spent viewing. ThreeNow is already the fastest-growing streaming platform in New Zealand, and we expect this to continue as viewers experience the new ThreeNow.