As streaming video continues to firmly hold its position as one of the most common OTT use cases, it’s no surprise that mobile operators have been quick to jump on this growth opportunity and the value it brings. Typically, this has taken the form of their own direct-to-consumer offerings looking to capitalise on the success of mainstream players such as Netflix. Many have since flooded the market, and there’s no doubt that the way we engage with video on the move and at home has forever changed as a result.
It’s easy to see why. OTT TV has become a front runner with consumers in recent years, to the point where Digital TV Research predicts that 99 million VOD subscriptions will be active in Western Europe alone by 2023, with total TV revenues reaching $50 billion. This fundamental shift is taking place all around the world too, with APAC being a region that’s seen a huge surge in the volume of viewers engaging with over-the-top streaming services.
Tier-one Indonesian operator Indosat is one such example. With more than 100 million subscribers, it launched a direct-to-consumer streaming service, called iStream, ahead of the World Cup, in order to take advantage of mounting consumer demand to stream the fixtures on demand and cross-device.
What’s particularly interesting about Indosat’s service, though, is how the platform has evolved since the last football match was shown. iStream has moved beyond being an exclusively B2C offering to help the mobile operator drive B2B revenues too - and it’s an approach that other service providers would be wise to consider for their own gain.
Going beyond B2C to secure additional revenues
By using this year’s major football tournament as a proof point for the platform’s success, Indosat launched a B2B arm of its iStream service. The operator demonstrated the capabilities of its platform to reach subscribers at scale in order to attract rights holders to iStream on an exclusive basis, before getting that new content in front of many more consumers through partnering with other content providers and ISPs under a revenue share model.
The value behind an approach like this is not in trying to become the next Netflix. Instead, it’s in servicing audiences with content tailored to their regional interests. Many rights holders, including those that are creating niche content, have valuable video assets but no direct route to consumers, which is an opportunity that operators like Indosat are in a position to take advantage of. After all, they already have a billing relationship with tens of millions of subscribers and a direct route onto their mobile devices.
With this in mind, it’s a win-win for all involved. Rights holders can get their content seen by consumers at scale, while other service providers offering the platform have a vested interest in driving uptake with their users to bolster overall growth. And this multi-tenanted approach becomes all the more important when you consider how a service like this should be monetised.
The changing video monetisation model
A streaming service is only as successful as the monetisation model it employs. While subscription VOD is undoubtedly the current king of this market, it’s not without flaws. New research suggests consumers are being presented with too many options. That’s having a negative effect, as they’re subsequently showing an unwillingness to sign up for new subscription services when presented with them. While this won’t affect more established players like Hulu or Amazon Prime, it does pose a question for how mobile operators should position their own services in the market to encourage users to adopt them out of all the other options available.
One way to achieve this is by introducing a different monetisation approach. Given that operators already have a wealth of subscriber data, and that the rise of OTT has fundamentally changed the ad targeting game, an increasingly viable supplementary offering to SVOD is an ad-supported (AVOD) model.
As such, many operators, including Indosat, choose to combine SVOD with AVOD, which has tremendous value from a sustained revenue perspective. Offering an AVOD option for accessing the streaming platform is a way to immediately get more eyeballs on the content that’s available to watch – particularly as there will always be a subset of consumers who reject subscription-based services altogether.
Making this a reality
The remaining question, then, is how to make all this a reality? There are two options. The first is that operators can choose to do it themselves. This is entirely practical if the prerequisite content and engineering teams are already established, and there are certainly economies of scale when operating everything in-house.
For operators that don’t have this existing support, though, a technology provider can do much of the heavy lifting in a way that eliminates the traditional upfront CAPEX outlay associated with launching a new video streaming service. Another area where an outsourced technology partner can be beneficial is their method for driving more targeted advertising with deep-dive data analytics.
Both of these go hand-in-hand with the AVOD model and how it can be used to open up a new streaming service to a wider audience at launch. Since more eyeballs equals more data, volume of data correlates with stronger subscriber insights, and better insights represent much more relevant and targeted advertising offerings, it’s an important cyclical relationship between the consumer and the video platform to get right.
By introducing a content management platform at the heart of their streaming service that has advanced data analytics built in, it’s possible to ensure consumers are being served highly targeted adverts that are relevant to their likes, interests, spending habits and more - and track and manage viewer engagement on a much deeper level. This not only makes those ads much more likely to be engaged with, but also helps drive the bottom line for the operator and their business partners to ensure an immediate ROI.
No longer a thorn in the side of mobile operators, it’s now possible for video to become a multi-faceted revenue driver. Regardless of how they choose to implement their own video streaming services in the future, mobile operators around the globe would be wise to consider the advantages demonstrated with Indosat’s approach and the necessity to go beyond merely B2C revenues in today’s highly competitive streaming landscape.
Ultimately, at a time when competition is fierce but the need for data-driven, highly targeted advertising has never been greater, mobile operators that adopt an approach like this are in a unique position to stand out from the crowd and grow their revenues in a new and sustained way.