ConnecTechAsia op-ed piece

ConnecTechAsia op-ed piece

Author: Mateen Kirmani

Designation: Partnerships Lead

Bio: Leading Partnerships at Circles.Life, Mateen is responsible for driving growth through collaboration. Mateen gives power back to consumers through leveraging the strength of partners and creating innovative products to bring value to customers across all markets.

Customer-obsessed and user-journey focused, Mateen has over 13 years of experience in developing growth strategies for fortune 500 companies and Rocket Internet startups such as Zalora; reinventing what growth means for businesses. He’s rolled out national level planning projects in the public sector and leveraged his management consulting and strategy to create his own entrepreneurial frays in PropTech and Social Enterprise.

At Circles.Life, Mateen is driven power the people by changing the future of the telecommunications industry by enabling them to live their lives with ease and be valued for it.

Article summary:
The Media and Telco Arena: Consolidation, Competition or Collaboration?

Music and video streaming services are today the dominating source for digital media consumption. Media (OTT, broadcasters, Pay-TV) companies are looking for user growth and telco partnerships are an organic fit due to their central role in enabling data consumption, but also thanks to capabilities in user authentication and monetisation. In this panel discussion, we explore topics that are relevant to both parties in the streaming ecosystem, focusing on:

  • How to build scalable partnerships? How to quickly launch new partnerships and avoid cannibalisation?
  • What happens when bundle partnerships run out? Free trials are alluring to telco subscribers, but how can the two parties work together to make sure users don’t churn out?
  • New revenue streams and marketing opportunities enabled by existing partnerships

Imagine how rapidly technology is evolving in today’s landscape. Businesses should not underestimate the importance of innovation and even self-disruption to staying relevant to their customers. Partnerships are a great way to tap into the strengths of another party to innovate, acquire new customers, and drive revenue growth. However, launching a new and viable partnership can be difficult if you don’t take the time to understand your partner’s “why”.

Understand your potential partners. Are their goals and reason for doing what they do aligned with yours? Knowing each other’s objectives and setting realistic mutual goals is the first step to managing expectations up front. Once this mutual understanding is achieved, you can more easily assign roles and responsibilities, think through contingencies, and map out customers’ journeys from your platform to theirs. This deep thinking allows you to quickly develop robust plans without spending too much time on alignment and optimizing later on. If you and your partners are aligned on the ‘”why”, then the “how” becomes easier.

Two industries that often partner are media and telecoms. Video streaming platforms, media companies and telco partnerships are organic fits given their central roles in enabling the monetization of data consumption and as the leading source of entertainment and media consumption.

Although media and telecom companies have walked hand-in-hand during the past few decades, the need to innovate is imminent to keep up with changing consumer behaviour. Mechanics such as bundled partnerships are great for reaching out to your audience while maintaining your objectives. Free trials are often enticing to telco subscribers but as with other free products, subscriber churn is a concern once the trial period ends.

Media companies must think beyond free trials to how they can leverage telcos to add value to customers and retain them. Telco penetration and smartphone adoption are on the rise and every brand wants to work with the telcos. How can you differentiate the value that you add to telco subscribers and through your collab strategies?

Today, the modern consumer wants content on-demand and on the go. A korean drama on Viu, a Hollywood blockbuster on Catchplay or original productions on Netflix. They want to binge watch their favorite shows on these platforms without the hassle of making a separate payment for each subscription every month.

One way to entice such consumers is by offering entertainment bundles that bill customers for all of their streaming platforms through their telco. Media owners can also partner with telcos to run launch campaigns for shows and offer season passes to specific shows.

Many opportunities are available to create new revenue streams through existing partnerships, particularly given the rate that both industries are moving. In this ever-changing environment, thinking bigger is rewarded. How can we tap into current consumer trends to increase sales?

One way to grow sales is by leveraging media companies’ existing customer base and using that information to establish a new relationship between the telco and the consumer. Identify your customers’ needs and customize products that benefits them. Doing so will increase sales to the telco and strengthen loyalty toward the media company.

Media companies can also reach out to telcos and offer their customers micro-products that add value to their telco plan. Positioning your partnership as a benefit that enhances your customers’ lives makes engaging, retaining and upselling easier. Doing so will both drive up the media owner’s revenues and offer customers easier ways to consume content across platforms at a price point that beats having multiple subscriptions.

Most OTT players build for stickiness on their apps/platforms. Nothing is wrong with this approach and, indeed, a segment of loyal customers will continue to subscribe to monthly plans. However, the time to think about establishing partnerships to create products for price sensitive and content-conscious segments is now! Leverage what your partners have and use that to create new products and upsell your products to a wider audience. At the end of the day, media and telco owners should ask themselves, if they would rather have a small piece of a big pie or no pie at all.

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