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COVID-19 and An Increasingly Complex OTT Ecosystem

VUBIQUITY on August 10th, 2020

How many different streaming platforms have you used during the COVID-19 pandemic?

According to Amdocs’ research, COVID-19 has driven experimentation and discovery of new content, as 29 percent of consumers have tried new media subscription services during lockdown. Parks Associates claims consumers are spending seven hours per week streaming video content, nearly double the average in 2017.

At the same time, streaming competition continues to heat up, NBC’s Peacock being the latest entry making headlines with its flexible access options. 2020 has also seen the likes of HBO Max and Quibi join the global direct-to-consumer competition in the streaming space. Moreover, ad-based streaming providers like Tubi and Pluto TV were acquisition targets by likewise scale content players.

As a result, opportunities to personalize the viewing experience, including point-of-entry, will continue to grow. This leaves the question: With more options than ever, could it become too much for consumers to create and manage their ideal multi-screen experience? How can brands be better managed to avoid this?

Preparing for new content business models

While availability and access to streaming content are increasing, so are consumer expectations, particularly affordability, ease of access and contextual experience.

According to research Amdocs conducted pre-pandemic, 27 percent of surveyed consumers spend more than $100 a month on subscription services. Peacock’s mix of premium, ad-based and free subscription offerings provides a possible look into the future of how new players can approach this cost issue while still bringing in new subscribers.

A platform’s underpinning must have agility to adapt to shifting commercial models rapidly. Examples include the optionality of premium paid, ad-supported or hybrid approach, transactional content versus freemium, curated libraries or endless options, and live or video-on-demand. This goes even further when you consider other variations like multi-lingual and multi-currency, all requiring platform support.

These variants have become more relevant within our COVID-19 reality, as consumers increasingly interrogate their monthly budgets, the perceived value from services and spend.

Start with bringing ‘simple’ back to the OTT experience

COVID-19 has seen OTT consumption accelerate not just in the video content space, but across a wide variety of digital services. These players are also battling to build brand awareness and loyalty in a crowded market. For example, Amdocs’ research showed that during COVID-19, 32 percent of consumers are taking advantage of new online food or grocery services, while 18 percent have tried online gaming for the first time.

Tools that allow consumers to manage their digital lives is one area where service providers can differentiate. The growing demand for digital services creates an opportunity for service providers to cater to a subscriber’s digital sway and provide solutions across their owned brands and supported partners.

Providing a platform to offer new, contextualized services creates stickiness and a relationship between the user and the carrier. It also opens opportunities to rethink how services can be bundled. Instead of a traditional triple-play offering, bundles can be powered by a diverse ecosystem of partners that delivers best-in-class offerings.

During the pandemic and beyond, improved subscription management and usability with easy navigation controlled through a single, seamless interface, including billing, will make one’s digital life simpler. Expect this to become increasingly important as the months go on.

Darcy Antonellis is the head of Amdocs Media and serves as Vubiquity’s CEO. Vubiquity, acquired by Amdocs in 2018, is a leading provider of premium digital content services and technology solutions.

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