2019 is wrapping up and everyone here at MagellanTV is as busy as a certain someone’s Arctic helpers. We’ve just made a “Gift Card” feature available, and we’re now on the trail towards temporary downloads for offline viewing. And lastly, you can help us set the 2020 objectives for MagellanTV by taking this month's survey.
Time flies when you’re watching a lot of MagellanTV. Or, at least that’s what I told myself for the last two months when I needed to put down the remote and focus on all our product updates. But despite the weather turning cold here in New York and a slate of newly available, winter-related documentaries tempting me to watch, I was able to pause for long enough to plan and release two completely new elements to MagellanTV: gift cards and temporary downloads for offline viewing.
What winter documentaries were so distracting? Well, there are two in particular about which I’m very excited: White Wolves, Ghosts of the Arctic, and Tudor Monastery Farm at Christmas. Turns out, Christmas during the Tudor period was a raging party! Who knew?
“The Smart Gift”: How MagellanTV Gift Cards Were Created
The value of MagellanTV as a gift is obvious. It is affordable and offers unique content about specific interests such as warfare or true crime. But without a gift purchase system, the process of buying a membership for a friend or family member was cumbersome. So, with the holidays upon us, we made it a priority to offer an easy way to give non-recurring memberships to the people in our lives who will appreciate them most.
Learning the Lingo: Nearly every service generally falls into two categories. A “Recurring” service is one that automatically renews,while a “non-recurring” service must be repurchased every time. MagellanTV is a good example of a recurring service, while supporting a charity organization through their annual fundraising mailer is considered non-recurring.
From the very beginning we wanted to keep two things in mind: Number one, this way of sharing MagellanTV isn’t so much a “gift card” for a single purchase. Instead, we wanted it to feel like you are giving a MagellanTV “membership”. Number two, choosing and giving a gift is a deeply personal act, so we want these gifts to connect the giver and recipient in the most satisfying ways possible.
To meet these two objectives, we relied on personalization and flexible delivery options.
Getting the Balance Right: Meaningful Personalization vs. Choice Overload
The first challenge with personalization was to minimize the purchaser’s mental load as they decided how to fill out each personalized piece of the gift. To do this, we organized the personalization steps into the same logical flow you might experience when shopping at a typical brick-and-mortar store. First, you browse the shelf; then, you decide to purchase; and finally, after paying for it, you take it home and write a small card to complete the gift.
Check out this year’s top performers on MagellanTV! Writer Justine Damiano reviews the top performing documentaries of 2019.
With all this in mind, our team agreed the following flow would achieve all our objectives, while minimizing mental effort. First we request information such as the purchaser’s name and email address, as well as the gift recipient’s name and contact info. (This is the only element of the flow that doesn’t have a conventional store analogy.) Second, we ask the user to choose from our virtual “store shelf” the type of gift they want to purchase – either a one-year or a two-year membership, and how this gift should be delivered. For those who want to physically give this gift, we offer a printable card insert. And for those who want a virtual delivery, we offer email delivery with a delivery date of your choosing.
The evolution of our gift card design. We decided not to illustrate a “gift card" and, instead, focus on the “giving MagellanTV” aspect of the gift.
Finally, personalization of the gift. To return to the store analogy, personalizing the gift made us feel like we were back at home, writing a personal message, and signing the card. But for those of us (like yours truly) who don’t get as heartfelt, we designed our gift system with the ability to reformat on the fly and adjust when personalization was absent.
Offline Viewing and Temporary Downloads: Coming Soon to a Device in Your Pocket (Tablets Too)
Since the day we launched in early 2019, the number one requested feature was offline viewing through a temporary download. Thank you to everyone who reached out about this and all the valuable information you provided. I’m very excited now to give you a sneak peek of what we’ve been working on.
These are mockups, and information on the screen might be inaccurate. But while the design is subject to change, it shows the direction we’re going.
This project had three objectives we wanted to ensure were met. First, many of our members said they wanted the ability to download many documentaries and series all at once, so we needed to make batch downloading as easy – and fast – as possible. Second, we wanted to support as many devices as possible, everything from your brand new tablet to the 1st-generation flip phone that your distant uncle still uses. (OK, we’re exaggerating, who really uses a flip phone anymore?) And lastly, we felt that our members should feel like they were in control of the experience. The app shouldn’t take an action (like deleting a download) without the member knowing about it.
The Age-Old Digital Battle: Wanting to Save Everything, but Not Having Enough Space to Do So
Bulk downloading conflicts with the realities of device hardware. You can only save a documentary if you have enough space on the device. So, in an attempt to resolve these conflicting needs, we created multiple “quality” levels and made each available for download. This also gave us some flexibility with supporting more devices. For example, your new tablet with a massive internal hard drive might handle an entire 4K series; but older devices will likely need to download the standard definition, or SD, variant. The content is the same and both devices are able to download the entire series with just one tap of a button, but variable quality options allow more devices to utilize MagellanTV’s download feature.
Mockup showing our quality download buttons. This design is subject to change.
MagellanTV’s Download Policy, In a Nutshell
As with most other video services, we will allow members to download any number of documentaries for 30 days. After this 30-day window closes, we will automatically delete the film from the device – but before this occurs, we will send a notification to the member alerting them that it’s about to happen. If you’d like to keep the download, there will be an option to “renew” the download for another 30 days.
We will also offer a toggle to automatically delete the download after you are done watching it. This option will be “off” by default, but for those who want to clear their device as they go, it will be available.
With this download feature, MagellanTV will go wherever you go, regardless of your WiFi status. You will be able to download documentaries and have them available to watch without an Internet connection, whether you are on a plane, train, or automobile. Look for the official release of this feature in early January!
20/20 Vision for Our 2020 Roadmap
After temporary downloads are released, there are a ton of important features we’re planning to incorporate soon. Let’s look ahead to a few of them now.
I have to admit one of the things that bugs me when I watch MagellanTV is the way our series are organized – and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Members often share with us that series organization is an area we could improve. For example, it’s hard to tell which episode of a series you are viewing; and, when you want to continue watching, the episode is displayed in the “keep watching” tray, rather than the series. So, a rework of how our series are organized is a big priority moving into 2020.
We want to know what is most important to you! This month’s survey asks you to select various new features, and to indicate if they should be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in our priority list.
Another priority involves accepting international currencies. MagellanTV has been available worldwide from our start, but at first we didn’t know how much traction we would find from international audiences. Turns out, quite a bit! In fact, 50% of our members reside outside the United States, so accepting membership payments in local currencies must be a big priority.
There are many other items on the list, and the truth is that it can be hard to prioritize them, because all the items on our wishlist have value. This brings me to this month’s survey. We’d love to receive your feedback on what you’d like to see from MagellanTV, or what you think about the updates we’re planning.
2019 has been a great ride here at MagellanTV. From launch day to now, we’ve grown, overcome technical issues, expanded our customer support, and found new channels and ways to share what MagellanTV does and why it’s worth joining. From everyone here at MagellanTV, we want to offer a heartfelt “thank you!” to our members, and we wish everyone, member or not, the very best for your holiday season, a happy New Year. Stay tuned for 2020, there’s so much more to come.