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August 1, 2022

The ‘video bundle’ is dead. Long live the video bundle

By putting a digital spin on the classic content package, super aggregators can create a unified CX that’s ready to thrive amid the streaming wars.

Binge-and-bolt is the name of the game in the streaming services marketplace. In the first quarter of 2022, nearly 30 million viewers canceled subscriptions, and another 37 million added them.

There’s a solution to customer loyalty, however, that involves putting a modern spin on an unlikely concept: the video bundle.

Consumers are actually growing nostalgic for bundling, with its integrated billing and one-time setup mechanism for tasks like single sign-on and parental controls across hundreds of channels. While streaming’s a la carte approach offers more choices and lower prices for consuming content and music, it also requires a dizzying array of usernames, passwords and payment processes. The average smartphone user accesses a total of 24 apps per month and maintains (or tries to) 70-plus passwords.

Streaming also makes content discovery a headache for subscribers as they jump among multiple platforms, with no single service building a comprehensive view of preferences.

Out with the old bundle, in with the new

By forming partnerships to fortify their video packages with other digital experiences—think fitness and even education—streaming services providers can offer the best qualities of the time-tested cable bundle: higher customer value, one-stop convenience and advantageous pricing.

This “super aggregation” model is being pursued even by streaming disruptors like Verizon, Apple and Google, all of which offer an array of options to spice up their service packages.

For example, Verizon is innovating with its +play program, a subscription management platform launched in May with the goal of simplifying the experience of its wireless customers. The +play service offers single sign-on for Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. The carrier is also working to ink deals with fitness brand Peloton, meditation app Calm, livestreaming concert startup Veeps and digital sports media company The Athletic. 

Bundling offers potential for smaller players, as well. In addition to partnering with the top-tier streamers, smaller providers can also forge their own path to super aggregator status by bulking up their subscription offerings with digital experiences. Partnerships with fitness and health businesses are one option. Others include interactive sports, gambling, gaming and education.

Key attributes of the super aggregator experience

To make bundling a reality, streaming providers need to solve for several key attributes. Many have begun tackling these challenges in an ad hoc way, but by taking a comprehensive approach, they can create a convenient, intuitive experience that stands apart from the industry’s disjointed norm.

The CX that defines a super aggregator includes three key elements:

  1. A hub for subscription management and billing. In addition to the experiences themselves, subscription management and billing is where super aggregators can wow consumers. Today’s streaming services typically take a patchwork approach: a single point for billing but not for customer care, for instance, or a hub of one-time offers but no unified way to manage subscriptions.

    Super aggregation requires adding the full menu of features to the roadmap. A first move is to create a marketplace or portal that serves as a single place for viewers to sign up for experiences, manage subscriptions and billing, and contact customer service.

    The key criterion here is seamlessness. Canceling apps and streaming services, for example, should be as simple as adding them. (Think Apple’s no-sweat iPhone features “Remove App” and “Double Click to Install”.)

    The good news is, such virtual storefronts are straightforward technology initiatives that don’t require a lot of additional processing. The details of easy-to-use onscreen buttons such as “Click here to go to Netflix subscription” or “Link a device to that login” should happen in the background

  2. Unified search and recommendations. For consumers, the ability to easily search for—and find—content from multiple services can feel like streaming nirvana. Yet while search and recommendation is the heart of an on-demand experience because everything connects to it, providers have so far fallen short of a unified UX​. Missing is a single login that offers the ability to switch user profiles to provide individualized recommendations. For bundling, a universal profile and settings is essential.

    By using inter-network app integration, super aggregators can link the metadata for every content and experience, so that metadata from, say, watching King in the Wilderness on HBO Max triggers the recommendation for the Netflix 2021 docuseries Amend: The Fight for America.

    Deep integration is a value-add that even a powerhouse like Netflix doesn’t offer, and it’s one that streaming providers will need to develop the infrastructure to support. Our research finds that half of media respondents identified analytics capabilities as a priority for creating a complete customer view, yet only 16% said their organizations collect, analyze and apply customer data well enough to enable a personalized experience.

  3. Data-driven business models and lower subscription fees. Bundling introduces the possibility for all super-aggregation partners to access more data and more precisely target both advertisements and services.

    For example, with greater volumes of data on hand, streaming services could take a page from Google’s business model and create new premium ad slots. Just as the search giant charges advertisers more to appear at the top of citations, streaming providers could charge extra for advertisements that appear​ not just in-content but also within content search and results.

    Bundling could also lead to lower subscription fees through economies of scale and a curated, less-is-more approach in which services packages are smaller but more personalized based on content preference, experience and convenience.

A super-aggregated future

The traditional bundle may be on its way out, but its successor is already here.

The key to bundling success in 2022 and beyond rests on a comprehensive approach that includes a hub for billing and subscription management, unified search and recommendation, and smart use of data to lower costs and power new business models.

With a new approach to bundling, super aggregators can carve out a competitive path forward for streaming services success.

Joseph Dervin D’Cunha
Strategy and Offering Lead, CMT
Digitally Cognizant author Joseph Dervin D’Cunha

Joseph Dervin D’Cunha is Strategy & offering Lead in the Communications, Media and Technology vertical at Cognizant. With 20+ years of experience, he’s had roles in strategy, business development, solutioning, offer management & consulting.

Todd Weinert
Strategic Business Unit Leader, CMT
Digitally Cognizant author Todd Weinert

Todd Weinert is Strategic Business Lead in Cognizant’s Cable and CSP business unit, working with clients to transform their businesses to support the growth opportunities with the emerging convergence of broadband, content, mobility and 5G.

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