CBS All Access QoE manager: We don’t rely on Twitter anymore


HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Having worked with CBS Interactive since 2008, Jon Mantell, VP of digital products and video for the programmer, remembers a pre-CBS All Access era, when his company’s QoE (quality of viewing experience) acumen wasn’t so buttoned up. 

“We didn’t have a lot of direct customer service, so we relied on social media and emails coming in from users” to detect problems and generally receive customer feedback,” said Mantell, speaking on an afternoon panel Wednesday at the Streaming Media West conference.

Flanked to Mantell’s left, Perry Weinstein, Darren Lepke, director of marketing for Verizon Digital Media, put it more bluntly: “If you’re still using Twitter as a QoE tool, you’re doing it wrong.”

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Indeed, Mantell described CBS Corp.’s evolution from a broadcaster merely delivering ratings points to an audience it only understood through the opaque lens of Nielsen to a company relying on SVOD subscription revenue as a “big shift in DNA.”

With that huge change comes the need to evolve QoE strategy and better understand customers. 

“We’re trying to understand what the journey is for people using our products,” Mantell said. “We previously didn't have a clear view of what’s going on in the typical quality of experience … But we’ve invested a lot in understanding what’s happening with each point of the workflow. People expect their TV to work. If it doesn’t, they’re on to the next thing.”

Does the fact that the CBS broadcast network has one of the oldest median viewer ages on TV influence how Mantell and his team do their jobs? In other words, is the CBS All Access audience generally less tech savvy and in more need of nurturing?

“I don’t think so,” Mantell said. “The experience is pretty consistent across the board. The thing we look at relate to the overall product design. Can people find what they’re looking for easily?”

One of the things Mantell and his team have been working on is better enabling -- and enticing -- binge watching. 

“Something we focus on a lot is what happens when you end an episode,” he said. CBS wants to make it, he added, “so you don’t even go to the bathroom. You’re so engaged, you just move on to the next episode.”