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Pankaj Lamba, Regional Vice President, Customer Business Executive, Amdocs writes why it is important that carriers’ of...

Streaming success: How a communications service provider and an OTT partner can realise their full potential

Pankaj Lamba, Regional Vice President, Customer Business Executive, Amdocs writes why it is important that carriers’ of...
  • In a cluttered OTT space, to keep their customers and fully realize the monetization potential, Pankaj Lamba, Regional Vice President, Customer Business Executive, Amdocs writes that carriers’ offerings must reflect what their customer want.
  • He further writes how limited content bundling options can negatively impact the viewing experience of consumers.
If you’re an Indian consumer, chances are you’ve subscribed to more than one over-the-top (OTT) media service, either as part of your mobile or broadband connection or have directly subscribed to the likes of Amazon Prime Video or Netflix or Hotstar etc. Indeed, according to recent market research, conducted by Ovum on behalf of Amdocs, Indian consumers have by far the highest levels of multiple subscriptions among the five surveyed countries in the Asia Pacific region (India, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Australia).

To drill down into further detail:
  • 56% have access to or are subscribed to more than one paid OTT online media service
  • 56% have more than one paid OTT online video streaming service subscription to meet the needs of all family members
  • 42% have multiple subscriptions because no single OTT media service provider meets their entertainment needs
Furthermore, with the popularity of OTT media services growing by the day, almost half of respondents (45%) are digging deeper into their pockets to pay for the mobile or broadband plan that suits their needs most. According to them, having access to their favoured bundled media service made them either spend more on their carrier plan, more likely to stick with their carrier – or both.

This clearly vindicates carriers who have already taken the plunge to partner with multiple OTT players to offer their subscribers attractive bundled media services. But OTTs too reap the benefits, since it allows them to leverage the service provider’s reach and market penetration to rapidly advance their own.

Yet, partnerships on their own are not enough. To keep their customers and fully realize the monetization potential, carriers’ offerings must reflect what their customer want. Specifically, the study found that consumers’ full spending potential will remain unrealized in the absence of the “near-perfect bundle” and the right experience. In some cases, they may even switch networks if this magic combination can be found elsewhere. Indeed, half of Indian respondents said they would pay for a plan that included their preferred OTT media services – including discounts and extended free trials, with 30 percent saying they’d consider switching service providers to do so.

With the potential gains for carriers and OTTs alike in mind, the question shifts to the challenges they face to realize them. The most significant of these is on-boarding – specifically, how to on-board multiple OTT partners quickly and efficiently. Here, the hassles of complex IT requirements, as well as lengthy and cumbersome integration processes make things difficult for both carriers and OTT players. According to the survey, many OTT players complained about difficult-to-resolve technical issues and long delays, feeling carriers could be doing a lot more to speed up their back-end integration processes. Such dissatisfaction was not lost on carriers, with many readily admitting they struggled with the technicalities of integrating effectively with OTT platforms.

The source of the on-boarding challenges comes down to several factors:

  • Most carriers insist on proprietary, process-heavy integration methods that are slow and resource-intensive
  • Each carrier has different systems and processes
  • Technical staff at both the carrier and OTT often lack sufficient time to deal with integrations
  • Fear of security breaches make many carriers reluctant to provide OTTs with direct API access to their networks
The bottom line is that for consumers, such lack of alignment ultimately leads to a poor and frustrating user experience, as it limits content bundling options and negatively impacts the viewing experience of even those bundles, they were able to purchase.

The road to rectifying this situation begins with carriers and OTTs alike working towards simplifying partner lifecycle management from end to end. If they can do this, it will allow them to reduce onboarding complexity and costs, as well as shorten time to market for new OTT media services.

Arguably, moving to a cloud-based open-source API-driven platform offers the most optimal path towards achieving this goal. Using standard APIs exposed to both sides, such platforms seamlessly connect carriers with all partners within their ecosystem, allowing them to access their services via API calls. This has two main advantages. An API platform can be pre-integrated with multiple OTT partners, enabling a communications service provider to quickly connect to the platform and launch multiple OTT media offerings. Even if the platform is not pre-integrated with an OTT partner, it enables faster onboarding reducing the time and complexity for both CSPs and OTT players. This negates the need for OTT partners to perform the same repetitive tedious work for every service provider with whom they want to associate. Similarly, there is no need for service providers to approach each individual partner to onboard them separately using their own proprietary systems. This frees partners to focus on their core ability of dealing with content, whilst allowing carriers to leverage their in-built advantages of managing monetization, subscriptions, payments, connectivity and devices.

As the number of online video streaming services increases and consumers’ unsatiated need for new and different content from increasingly diverse sources continues to grow unabated, the challenge to create the perfect bundle – accessible via a single plan – will only increase. In an environment where consumers will readily switch loyalties to satisfy this need, the impetus remains on service providers to address on-boarding and customer experience challenges now – and develop the agility to rapidly on-board partners and activate new services to meet this demand.

- By Pankaj Lamba, Regional Vice President, Customer Business Executive, Amdocs

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