H&C: service providers ‘need to be more willing’ to share data with content partners

Service providers need to be more willing to share customer data with content partners, according to Heather Killen, chairman and CEO of OTT equestrian-interest streaming service and channel provider Horse & Country, speaking on a panel at the Connected TV World Summit yesterday.

Killen said that content providers striking partnerships with service providers involved giving up some revenue and customer data, so there is a “trade off” in joining a super-aggregator platform. However, minimising the friction in the subscription journey is important. She said that different audience cohorts came to her service through different platforms.

Killen said there were still many people who took their entertainment from a pay TV operator and “this is still a base that needs to be served in some way”.

However, she said, partnering with a service provider came at a cost in terms of who owns the data, particularly in the case where in-app purchases are enabled.

Aside from the question of who ‘owns’ the customer, it is becoming more important, she said, to understand customer behaviour, and called on service providers to be more open to share this data, albeit in an anonymised way.

She said that relationships with service providers were “part of the mix” for her company, even though it was focused on OTT and streaming, which now provided two thirds of its revenue.

She said that H&C still provided a premium channel for pay TV operators as well as a FAST channel that acted as a pipeline to bring new viewers to its offering.

Service providers on the panel responded by saying that they did look to form partnerships with content providers that were mutually beneficial.

Asanga Gunatillaka, commercial and group product director at TalkTalk said service providers had a role in making it easy for consumers and also to provide a view of “overall household spend” by enabling customers to find all the content they need in one place, potentially with a single bill.

Gunatillaka said that TalkTalk was “sanguine” about which type of partnership it struck with content app providers, adding that it had done a ‘hard bundling’ deal with Netflix earlier this year.

However, he said, TalkTalk was in many ways “trying to break the bundle” by moving to a TV model that provided basic connectivity and leaving the consumer free to pick and choose which service to take on top of that.

He said that TalkTalk’s “sweet spot as a value provider” was to help consumers take a bouquet of content that allows them to pick and choose services, but also to save money.

Alejandro Casal Gómez, product owner STB embedded software and apps, KPN said pay TV operators remain relevant to content partners because of their footprint, because of their ability to deliver carrier billing and bundles giving consumers a complete overview of services they subscribe to, and “last but not least” operators’ durable relationship with the customer as a service provider.

Casal Gómez said that KPN was focusing on making onboarding of customers to apps more easily. He said that many customers also accessed services on older devices, which had led the telco to work with Comcast-owned technology outfit and app store provider Metrological and its Lightning framework to help deliver OTT streaming apps to older devices.

Thijs Bijleveld, executive director and head fo business development and account management EMEA at Metrological, also on the panel, said that service providers faced the challenge of delivering services to multiple generations of set-top boxes, leading his company to invest in technology enablers that had been fed into the open-source model operated by RDK.

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