Watchlist

 

The short version.

Hulu’s Watchlist is a feature designed to make it easier than ever to kick back and get caught up on your favorite shows. I came up with the concept, and was responsible for managing everything that went into its launch.

Read on for more 🙂

 

Role: Product Manager

Responsibilities
  • Research
  • Strategy & vision
  • Wireframes
  • Documentation & presentations
  • Roadmap & prioritization
  • Launch marketing
  • Interdepartmental-collaboration
Other Contributors

Jordan Kolasinski (Lead Designer)
Yu Zhao (Program Manager)
Billy Kwan (Program Manager)
Ilke Kaya (Product Manager)

Background

The Problem(s)

At the time, Hulu had been around for six years. During that period of explosive growth, three separate features had been developed to help users keep track of what they wanted to watch.

Queue was a place to save individual videos or movies. Favorites was a way to subscribe to shows so new episodes would be added to your Queue each week. And Shows You Watch was a feature that automatically collected the shows you actively watched in one place.

Queue, Favorites, & Shows You Watch didn't work together all that well

But while Queue and Favorites worked together, they weren’t really related to Shows You Watch at all – as you could have things in Shows You Watch that were not in your Favorites or Queue, and vice versa.

In my background research, I found that users were pretty confused by this – particularly within the interfaces of our TV apps, where you would have to hunt to find anything you saved.

In order to improve the user experience, I spearheaded the project to consolidate these three into one simpler, smarter, feature.

Introducing Watchlist

Your very own
Hulu personal assistant.

Simple & easy.

With one click, you can save anything you find on Hulu, whether it’s a single episode, a full show, or even a movie. And you can find them all in one place.

Super smart.

Watchlist keeps track of where you are in each show, and helps you pick up where you left off. It also learns from you, and sorts your shows and movies based on how you tend to watch.

(I was co-inventor on our sorting algorithm – U.S. Patent #9560399)

Available everywhere.

At launch, Watchlist was available across the most popular platforms: PS3, TV, FireTV, Roku, iOS, Android, as well as Mac & PC web browsers.

Launch Press Coverage

  • “Apparently Hulu was listening as it has now launched Watchlist, its newest feature will make sure you never need to get off your couch again or miss an episode of your favorite shows.”
    -TechnoBuffalo
  • “It’s like visiting a local restaurant and the waiter having your drink of choice ready for you when you arrive, then bringing out your fav dessert whenever it’s on the menu, without you even having to order it. Sweet!”
    -Digital Trends
  • “If you’re religious about watching the latest episode of a certain show each week, Hulu will recognize that pattern and surface the show at the top of your Watchlist.”
    -The Verge
  • “Watchlist addresses one of the larger issues with streaming services today: they haven’t yet solved the problem of helping you find and remember what it is you really want to watch.”
    -TechCrunch

My Responsibilities

Research

As a product manager, I believe it’s my responsibility to deeply understand my customers. So, I analyzed usage data for existing features, deep dove into Customer Support feedback, and performed a comprehensive competitor audit. I also did research into the psychology of why people “collect” things.

Strategy & Wireframes

Building on the insights gleaned from the research, I began putting together the outlines of a strategy and bringing in key partners in other departments to build it out. I always wireframe my concepts, as I believe it helps everyone get on the same page (no page-pun intended).

Documentation & Presentations

As Watchlist was replacing features that were built into literally every app, it required a great deal of collaboration to launch. To aid in this, I built out comprehensive documentation, and went on a presentation road show to introduce every team to the project (which even took me to Beijing).

(Excerpts from a presentation I created, animated, and presented at a Hulu all-hands event)

Roadmap & Prioritization

As with any product project, the vision was for an end product that would take several iterations to get to. So, I worked with the technical teams from every platform to prioritize and build out our release roadmaps.

Launch Marketing

Partnering with Marketing & PR, I helped in the development of everything from the Blog Post, Email Campaigns, and introductory Launch Video and ads.

(Video written and produced by Forest Erickson)