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Super-aggregators: the new ‘Pay TV heroes’

Ivan Verbesselt, NAGRA
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The rise of on-demand OTT multiscreen services has transformed the content landscape forever.

And in this on-demand world, consumers are increasingly demanding content on their terms. Research by NAGRA and analyst firm Ampere Analysis identified an emerging group known as “Content Connoisseurs”, a fast-growing and highly valuable consumer type that want to assemble their own à-la-carte bundles and expect high-quality experiences across devices.

But are these consumers getting what they want?

On the one hand, we’re living in a golden age of content where the choice is endless. However, to reach the show you want to watch you have to weave through a maze of menus across multiple apps and services.

The issue is compounded when you see that studios are now looking to own and distribute their content direct to consumers, circumventing licensing fees that come with broadcast TV or third-party streaming services.

Disney pulling its latest Marvel series from Netflix is just one recent example. And the landscape is only going to get more fragmented as the 20th Century Fox content moves over to the hotly expected Disney+, too.

Also in the news recently was CBS launching a News OTT Service, Apple launching a streaming service, Canal+ launching an OTT service and even the  BBC and ITV in the UK combining to offer a popular SVOD company a rival.

Inevitably, there’s a tipping point of too much fragmentation for the consumer. There has to be a re-bundling at some point; someone has to step up to the plate.

Could the answer to all this fragmentation lie in super-aggregation?

To be a super-aggregator, providers should be consumer-facing, boast a large user-base, and be primarily a branded content distributor that delivers superior value for consumers by offering choice, flexible pricing and convenience, all in one package that is designed around the customer, not the content’s source. Those operators that do so will not just be able to weather the impending “digital denouement”, they’ll come out the other side as successful paid-for-video providers who take a customer-focused approach.

And a key responsibility for super-aggregators is product and service innovation. This includes low-touch onboarding of new content and helping consumers find what they want to watch easily and in a personalized way.

As the latest Pay-TV Innovation Forum findings demonstrate, the user experience is becoming one of the defining factors for consumers when choosing a Pay TV operator.

Super-aggregating Pay TV operators therefore need to innovate their UIs. They need to enable their subscribers to switch between multiple content sources and services effortlessly with a simple, uncluttered and engaging interface that harnesses the respective OTT apps as appropriate.

Pay TV UIs also need to create a bridge between content silos (at the very least, apps can sit alongside each other on an Android TV device but one could aim higher); after all, subscribers don’t care where the content comes from, they just want effortless access to it.

But to help service providers claim their official roles as super-aggregators, it’s important they employ solutions that deliver efficient OTT content on-boarding, effective content value protection and an elegant data-driven approach to content discovery – one that actively drives service loyalty and monetisation.

If we look to the future of content delivery, it’s clear that we’re moving towards a world with a platform-agnostic approach to distributing TV content and video – blended together and made available across all networks and devices.

And let’s not forget, this applies to the world of sport, too. Look at ESPN and other sports content owners’ efforts to increase their investments in direct-to-consumer streaming strategies; just like Pay TV operators, they’re all concerned with creating unique engagement with viewers around the world.

This, ultimately, is the platform agnostic paid-for-video platform future. Of course, as the volume of content available continues to grow, Pay TV providers must continue to ensure that they’re delivering a great content discovery experience – one that uses the latest prediction and recommendation techniques that consumers increasingly demand.

All in all, Pay TV providers have a great opportunity to play a key role in aggregating OTT services. They can become a central gateway to all content that consumers have access to, across all screens.

In short, Pay TV operators have the chance to become the new super-aggregating Pay TV heroes. In 2019, the Pay-TV Innovation Forum will be exploring how operators can take control of what is fast becoming an excessively distributed model and become the TV hero super-aggregators consumers want. 

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