TV companies battling to preserve the shared experience of scheduled TV viewing in an era of 24/7 streaming and personalised viewing need more than binge-watching contracts and no-sleeping agreements to keep customers.
Recently, Netflix introduced a binge-watching contract for couples and families to regulate the way they watch TV together. However, new research from Lancaster University, the University of Warwick and Relational Economics Ltd suggests streaming and subscription TV providers need to consider several other factors to ensure their services provide value to customers.
The study of UK households who subscribe to digital and satellite TV services - which accounted for 60% of UK households in 2018 - is published in the Journal of Business Research.
Lead author Dr Helen Bruce, of Lancaster University Management School's Marketing Department, said: "From our research, we found families value more than just watching TV together, though the ability to do so - and to customise those experiences - remains extremely important, and a key reason why families continue to spend often significant sums of money each month on TV subscriptions.
"In fact, our research shows that families who work together to choose which TV packages (and elements thereof) to have within their home, who learn together how to use the ever-evolving technologies, who plan what and when they will watch together, and who meaningfully discuss their viewing experiences, will ultimately derive more value from their subscription.
"However, value can be destroyed where family members don't or can't master the various technologies, and where family members don't have equal ownership and control over the TV and its benefits.
"Perhaps more importantly for TV subscription companies trying to maintain a position within a household, value can be destroyed where the actions of one family member are detrimental to others. For instance, a person might disrupt family viewing by talking loudly, delete recorded shows that someone else wanted to watch, or make disparaging comments about another party's tastes in TV shows.
"Firms need to think about how they can facilitate collaboration among families in their use of subscription TV. For example, there is the potential to use technologies such as Alexa to identify areas of value destruction and to intervene - for instance, by detecting when one person regularly talks during a certain programme, and setting up a recording, so nothing is missed."
Dr Bruce added: "Service providers need to provide resources that are easily integrated into consumers' lives, as well as providing reliability and quality. They also need to respond to common problems, where patterns of behaviour which cause difficulties - and thus a loss of value - are repeated across users."