MELS speakers mull future of super-aggregation

Super-aggregation of multiple streaming services by telecom operators can deliver value to consumers in the form of price discounts and an enhanced user experience if done well, with the prospect of opening up the aggregated offering to encompass other adjacent – digital – services, according to a panel of speakers at the Media & Entertainment Leaders Summit (MELS) in London.

Speaking on the panel, Chris Van der Linden, director, entertainment platforms at Liberty Global, said that super-aggregation can cement subscribers’ loyalty to the range of services they choose.

“Super-aggregation is a story about loyalty and trust,” he said. It enables streamers to smooth out the seasonality of subscriptions.

“The telco is the best place to do super-aggregation,” he said.

“The unique thing for telcos is we can create bundles that no-on else can,” he said, citing the example of mixing traditional pay TV with OTT.

Van der Linden said a ‘best in class’ super-aggregation experience meant delivering a financial benefit to subscribers. If the operator can provide discounts, that is a gain.

Second, it is possible to bring all services together, but the value is in bringing about a unified experience.

Third, he said, is the possibility to bundle different services and experience, such as games or tickets to events.

Van der Linden said that operators could bundle other services “staying close to entertainment”, meaning audio and other video services and games, or by providing free tickets to performances.

He said further down the line it may be possible to bundle energy services and other things that could be accessed via an app.

Service providers still primarily offer aggregated services via an owned device in the home. Van der Linden said that the benefit of a set-top box was that the aggregator can do more than if it ‘lives’ on someone else’s platform.

“Controlling the integration of the content and making sure the user can navigate seamlessly” means having your own device, he said.

Technology integration and the “proliferation of IT stacks” was one of the major challenges to delivering a compelling super-aggregation play, said Van der Linden. “The challenge is around activating and provisioning.”

Van der Linden said that service providers can deliver additional value by highlighting which services or combination of services it made sense for users to sign up to, depending on their interests.

“Helping customers by recommending the right content and subscriptions but also helping with the customer journey,” would be important, he said.

With regard to bundling, Van der Linden said that consumer preferences vary, with some people preferring ‘all you can eat’ for a discount while others are only looking for à la carte options.

Soft bundle

Also speaking on the panel, Alejandro Casal Gomez, IPTV innovation product owner and solution architect, KPN said that there are different segments of users with their own needs that service providers need to address. So KPN offers the services it aggregates primarily on an à la carte basis rather than in the form of hard bundles.

Casal Gomez said that KPN offers a soft bundle with a discount for subs who take an entertainment offering in a bundle with broadband, for example.

He said the key benefit of using a telco was its ability to deliver a stable platform and a great user experience.

He said it “makes sense” for telcos to aggregate other digital services like cloud gaming, music and audiobooks. Many subscribers used KPN’s set-top to listen to radio, he said.

Other ways of adding value include collaboration around advertising-based services.

Casal Gomez said that rising prices of subscription packages presents a challenge to the super aggregator that wants users to sign up to multiple services.

He also suggested that telcos could complete with big tech aggregators such as Amazon or Apple by offering superior customer services.

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