Aggregators will end the streaming wars, eventually

  • A recent survey by Accenture found that unsurprisingly, consumers are fed up with the current streaming landscape.
  • There is a gap in the market for content aggregators to step in and make accessing a buffet of content easier.
  • Whether content owners will be willing to go back to the days of farming their content out is unclear.

While streaming has made accessing content a lot easier, the insistence from content owners to operate their own streaming platform has made the sector messy.

While Netflix lead the charge in the arena, its success lead others to believe that they could emulate that success and so today we’re in a rut where content is split across multiple platforms, demanding multiple subscriptions.

A recent survey of 6 000 people in North America, South America, Europe, South Africa, and Asia Pacific by Accenture revealed that folks are fed up with the current landscape. As many as 63 percent of those surveyed said that the cost of entertainment subscriptions were too high and 33 percent saying they’d somewhat or greatly decrease their spending on streaming services over the next year.

“It is time to give consumers greater control over the experience. They want to navigate the rabbit holes more easily, have more choice in service to pay for only what they want, and ‘talk back’ to the algorithm to help it better recommend content. In other words, they seek to inject the ‘I’ more meaningfully into the streaming experience,” explains managing director for Communications, Media and Technology at Accenture in Africa, Nitesh Singh.

How do platforms do this? Quite simply, aggregation.

We’ll hold for the obligatory jokes about coming full circle to traditional TV programming.

The argument not only holds water, it’s the reason platforms like Spotify are so successful. Rather than every music publisher creating a streaming platform, Spotify aggregates content and everybody gets a cut. Streaming video could take a similar direction.

“Aggregators are increasingly crucial in resolving customer frustrations and helping realise the cord-cutting vision’s payoff. Early versions are being assembled, although it is too early to call the winners. According to our survey, any current streaming ecosystem players, SVODs, access devices, connected TVs, internet onramps and consumer apps, and traditional cable operators could become an aggregator. Consumers are looking for innovation and improvement in this space. They are looking for a company to develop new and better ideas for delivering content to them in a way that makes their lives easier and their viewing experience more enjoyable,” Singh explains.

The trouble is that streaming already had an aggregator – Netflix. Up until very recently Netflix was the destination for streaming content. However, the launch of bespoke platforms from HBO Max to Disney+ means that the landscape is now shattered as every rights holder chases its own profit margin.

Aggregators then have the task of negotiating with these rights holders to aggregate their content. How this would play out isn’t exactly clear, but Singh has an idea of how an early aggregation service could function.

“In the interim, one can expect mini bundles to form that offer engaging audiences for ad targeting or pay higher subscriber fees for premium content, services, or exclusive brands. However, with distribution secured on a broad-based aggregator, focusing on content types and audience niches provides an opportunity to improve the economics of the business,” the MD proposes.

“As aggregators battle to own the ‘Time Spent’ of consumers, we can expect future evolutions to aspire to be the onramps for any digital consumer experience. There may be more bundle offers of SVOD and AVOD streaming services, music services, digital books and podcast apps, video games, virtual fitness, food delivery, commerce, and even productivity tools. As Time Spent expands to include the metaverse, aggregators can be enablers and caretakers of digital identity, entitlements, security, currency, etc. This battle to be the home of a consumer’s streaming experience may be the first skirmish in the broader struggle to own a consumer’s every adventure,” he adds.

Unfortunately for content owners, there are also several piracy aggregators who offer access to content for free or at a lower price than all streaming platforms. While Hypertext doesn’t condone nor support piracy, we can also understand why frustrated consumers would turn to these platforms when trying to access the content they want to watch.

Of course, the trade off is that you are handing over a range of permissions to folks who don’t mind breaking the law so what’s stopping them from taking advantage of you.

Those looking at aggregating content then should keep a few things in mind.

“Provide convenience, better personalisation, compelling ways to spend time, and possible pricing efficiencies to attract and retain consumers. The to-do list for a streamer opting to ride inside an aggregator differs from that of an individual streaming service,” Singh concludes.


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