Accelerating innovation at Channel 5
Help ViacomCBS establish and secure buy-in for a repeatable innovation process, capable of delivering a high throughput of new ideas to enhance Channel 5’s My5 video-on-demand service.
Channel 5 is one of the most recognisable brands in media and entertainment. Owned by ViacomCBS, its popular home-grown programming, including The Drowning, sits alongside evergreen shows such as Neighbours and Eggheads.
Its My5 on-demand service launched in 2008, and has evolved into a mature live and catchup TV offering. With the core features now well-established, the business was moving into the next phase in the service’s evolution. Ashley Fletcher, ViacomCBS’s Senior Director of Product for My5, outlines the aims: “The plan now is to make highly targeted, incremental improvements to My5, based on our viewers’ demands and business KPIs. “To do this, we wanted a structured and repeatable discovery track to turbo-charge our innovation. We needed a process that enabled us to rapidly pinpoint customer challenges, then identify and test potential solutions with My5 users. The goal was to provide a continual flow of pre-validated ideas for our design and development teams to progress.
“Softwire had demonstrable experience of this type of product discovery and user-centred design (UCD) work. We asked them to showcase how the innovation process could run in our business, so that we could secure buy-in to do this on an ongoing basis.”
We ran a 10-week showcase innovation programme, in which we identified areas for improvement and potential solutions, before building a proof of concept of an enhanced personalisation engine for My5.
Our 10-week initiative used the double-diamond design and innovation model. Throughout the journey, we worked closely with stakeholders from across ViacomCBS, including senior management, to help achieve the necessary buy-in.
First, we ran user research to identify a wide variety of enhancement opportunities, focusing on content discovery and personalisation within My5. From these real-world insights, we honed in on a specific challenge to address. The next step was to ideate possible solutions.
We built rapid prototypes of different options, and tested them with target users. Based on feedback, we either discarded or refined the prototype, until we reached an optimal solution.
This would normally be taken forward by other teams within Channel 5 for detailed design and development. However, to showcase the tangible impact the end-to-end innovation process could have – and the speed at which change could happen – we brought in our own developers to build a proof of concept of the most promising personalisation feature.
The ViacomCBS management team was so impressed by the outcomes that it signed off funding to make the innovation discovery approach part of the ongoing My5 product development cycle, supported by Softwire.
Following completion of the 10-week innovation showcase, Fletcher reflects on the significant impact the work has had for the My5 product team.
He explains: “Softwire helped us meet our primary aim, which was to establish a process that delivers a fast throughput of validated ideas to take forward.
“Everyone I spoke to – including the management – was genuinely impressed by the process, the rigour, and the way the Softwire team navigated through the problem space. As a result, we’ve unlocked funding to make this approach part of business-as-usual, supported by Softwire.
“We’ve since been making a few refinements, based on lessons learnt. The result is a flexible process we can adapt to suit the problem we’re trying to solve and how much understanding we have of it. We’re kicking off the first of these business-as-usual innovation sprints with Softwire imminently.
Fletcher concludes by saying: “Perhaps most importantly, everyone enjoyed the process Softwire took us through, and there was a high degree of engagement internally and within Softwire, from start to finish. This was crucial in bringing people along on the journey.”
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