Emily Groch
Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications, providing omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to telecom providers.

Over 800 attendees from across the video industry converged for three days of informative panels, presentations and networking at the second annual Pay TV show in Denver. Mintel’s Emily Groch was on hand moderating a panel titled “Combatting Churn: Bundling, Pricing, and Promo Strategies that work.”

Here, she shares her observations from the show with three trends that will undoubtedly impact the industry and marketers in the near future:

The great re-bundling

Mintel identified The Great Re-bundling as one of our 2018 Telecom Marketing Trends, and it was clear from the discussion at The Pay TV Show that this strategy is gaining momentum. Providers have realized it is advantageous to aggregate content and streamline billing so consumers aren’t bouncing in and out of multiple apps or interfaces, which can be tedious and even frustrating. When we identified this trend, we highlighted Amazon Channels as the example the industry would follow. Since then, Roku has launched a similar marketplace, Roku Channels, and Apple has announced its intent to aggregate video (and other digital content).

Increased content aggregation is also evident in the evolution of virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs), such as YouTube TV and DirecTV Now. These services, which started as inexpensive, “skinny” bundles, have expanded their content, as well as their price tags.

Greater content aggregation means more partnerships between programmers and/or distributors. Through these collaborations, marketers may find new ways to tap into one another’s audiences.

Carriers as video marketplace

It’s not just Amazon, Roku, and Apple that want to be the premier streaming video marketplaces. They will soon get a run for their money from the wireless carriers. During the panel session “5G, Video and The New All-Wireless Bundle,” T-Mobile COO Lindsay Gardner said the telecom giant “will be the storefront” for many different streaming video services. Verizon Head of Content Acquisition & Programming Erin McPherson suggested a similar approach from her company, explaining the current YouTube TV offering will eventually be one of many streaming video options available to subscribers, because Verizon wants “to offer customers choice.” During the session, McPherson even suggested the mobile device may become the set-top box.

As consumers customize bundles with their cellular carriers, telecom brands will become ideal partners for advertisers looking to reach niche groups.

Mobile-carrier-as-streaming-video-marketplace could solve one of the biggest challenges for consumers and the industry right now: Content Overload (a trend, identified by Mintel in 2017, which continues today). With so many options available to consumers, content discovery has become a challenge. Given cellular carriers’ significant data collection around how their customers engage on mobile devices, these companies are best positioned to provide meaningful, highly personalized bundle recommendations that suit the interests of each individual customer.

As consumers customize bundles with their cellular carriers, telecom brands will become ideal partners for advertisers looking to reach niche groups.

Free, Ad-supported TV takes off

For a conference called The Pay TV Show, there was a lot of chatter about free, ad-supported video services. You may not have heard of Tubi, STIRR, or FreeDive just yet, but chances are you will, especially if you’re trying to trim your streaming video budget.

Ad-supported video services are not new, but they currently come in many flavors and several have captured the attention of major media players, such as Viacom. There are a few reasons the interest in free, ad-supported services is climbing. Programmers recognize they have massive catalogs of back content that is often just collecting dust, where it could instead be repackaged for an ad-supported service.

Another driver of ad-supported streaming video is programmatic over-the-top (OTT) advertising. This type of lucrative ad spot can be highly personalized to reach individual audiences, and as more marketers embrace programmatic, the possibilities for ad-supported content are likely to expand.

Programmers also realize they need to reach different types of consumers, which means acknowledging that people watch content in different ways. According to Mintel research on digital video, not everyone wants to watch ads, as three in 10 digital video subscribers said they would prefer a free service with ads.