Home Analysis The purpose of aggregators in the 2020s, and how they differentiate themselves

The purpose of aggregators in the 2020s, and how they differentiate themselves

What is the point of an aggregator in the 2020s when consumers can access premium content in relatively low-cost streaming services (e.g., from the likes of Disney) that was once only found behind a Pay TV operator subscription wall? This question formed the heart of the recent Videonet webcast, ‘Winning the aggregation battle’, and we review the insights that were shared.

Photo by Nicolas J Leclerq on Unsplash
Share on

What is the point of an aggregator in the 2020s when consumers can access premium content in relatively low-cost streaming services (e.g., from the likes of Disney) that was once only found behind a Pay TV operator subscription wall? This question formed the heart of the recent Videonet webcast, ‘Winning the aggregation battle’, and answers spanned [easier and better] content discovery and navigation, the convenience of carrier billing, smart packaging and promotion (including discounting) for onboarded streaming services, and an expansion of the total content offer by hosting streaming services (including for example, more Tier-Two sports). The provision of original, exclusive and local content were also flagged as key functions (in those instances where content can be used as a differentiator).

Tim Pearson, Vice President, Solution Marketing at NAGRA (a long-time specialist in Pay TV and multiplatform TV provision, UX, business analytics and content protection, among other things) flagged the importance of packaging and curation to make content discoverable. “We are seeing content start to fragment, but consumers still need direction and good navigation to help them find the content they are looking for.” That means editorial as well as automated recommendations.

Viewing behaviour insights underpin discovery and also content marketing, “giving you the opportunity to shape packages and propose new consumption approaches,” he stated.

Packaging and promotion are seen as key value-adds for any aggregator (and one where Pay TV can leverage its experience and strengths). Mary Ann Halford, Partner at Altman Solon (one of the world’s largest global strategy consulting firms with an exclusive focus on the Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (TMT) sectors), noted the power of free or discounted introductory offers on streaming services.

Onboarding of streaming services is central to the future of aggregation – and for Pay TV operators, super-aggregation is a way to expand the total content offer on their platform without additional content costs to themselves. Joe Nilsson, Chief Commercial Officer, SportsTribal (a FAST specialising in Tier-Two sports with 40+ channels spanning billiards and motor sports to combat sports) made this point and the specific case for the addition of T2 sports as a complement to the Tier-One sports typically found on Pay TV offers.

He believes a curated multi-channel (streamed) T2 sports offer represents a collective that becomes interesting to an aggregating platform. “It is hard to make some of the smaller sports work as standalone propositions but in a bouquet, like with motor sports or combat sports, the categories become compelling, especially if they are free to the operator,” Nilsson argued.

“We [as an onboarded app] are extending the content offering for the Pay TV operator or CE platform,” he continued. “For Pay TV providers, a bouquet like this can provide incremental audience, and for them and TV makers it will help to stop people exiting the platform.”

Expanding on this last point, Nilsson claimed: “FAST drives phenomenal watch times.” He reckons the linear nature of FAST is good for content discovery, as it reduces the decisioning burden on consumers and makes it easy to move from one content choice to another.

Halford noted that streaming services (as onboarded apps) reach different demographic audiences [in the same way that linear channels do]. vMVPD curations in the U.S. (available from Pay TV providers and non-Pay TV challengers) have distinct flavours to the point where they can appeal to different kinds of women (not just to women), for example.

Pay TV has always thrived by providing multi-genre diversity and having something for everyone, so the call-to-action is clear: make sure apps onboarding extends that principle.

Returning to content discovery and packaging, Halford, pointed out: “You have to ensure consumers are not choked with lots of programming services they have no interest in” and that “viewers want the opportunity to be surprised.”

Brigita Brjuhhanov, TV Product Owner/Team Lead at Elisa, summed up the critical nature of content discovery to the future of aggregation. “We have to make sure viewers have something to watch every day, every hour, and they never feel there is nothing to watch.” Elisa launched an Android TV based next-generation TV platform, Elamus, in Estonia last August and demonstrates how smaller operators can stay competitive in the aggregation game.

“You need good personal recommendations that show up content that is new, and which viewers have not seen before, and which excite the ‘local’ viewer,” Brjuhhanov observed – with her final point referencing the need for Pay TV platforms to differentiate themselves from global streamers with local content. “You need a great UX, and the Pay TV service needs to be multiscreen, of course.”

Pearson said Pay TV operators must ensure their ‘brand relevance’, which builds upon long-term subscriber relationships by offering new value-add functions, one of which could be carrier billing for onboarded apps. This is especially valuable in markets where credit cards are less widely used, he pointed out. NAGRA customer Claro adds Netflix to is Pay TV bills in Colombia for example, clearly increasing the potential market for the onboarded SVOD giant.

This webcast, which you can watch on-demand, also considered the degree to which CE device makers (especially Smart TV providers) are a threat to Pay TV in the aggregation space (answer – they are, and this is a view that 25% of the live audience took when asked who is best placed to be the default aggregator people use every day for their TV). You can see the full results of that poll in the on-demand recording.

The ‘Winning the aggregation battle’ webcast, which you can now watch on-demand, discusses how Pay TV operators can differentiate themselves from these CE aggregation rivals. The impact of device strategy on aggregation is explored. There is a discussion about how aggregators can make themselves more appealing than their rivals to a streaming service – and thus ensure they can onboard that streamer. And the importance of original, exclusive or ‘just’ local content, is explored.

The live audience also answered this poll question: ‘Beyond ‘carriage’, what are the most important value-adds a content aggregator (e.g., Pay TV/CE device makers) can give to a streaming content service?’ The results from this poll are revealed.

Watch the webcast on-demand


Share on