Exec: ‘Virgin Media O2 becoming SVoD aggregator’

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David Bouchier, Chief TV & Entertainment Officer at UK multiplay operator Virgin Media O2, has suggested the service is still working with the same content providers, but whereas previously it was an aggregator of pay-TV channels, it was becoming an aggregator of SVoD apps.

Speaking on a panel session – International Content Summit – Strategies to win the OTT Competition – as part of the ANGACOM Digital Online Congress, Bouchier discussed the changing relationship with OTT and SVoD players.

“As each SVoD player has started to see mature markets, their growth curve declines,” he noted. “They have to find other ways to find subscribers. We have two or three very key relationships. We have a very established billing relationship with our customer; we have a very well established relationship with the main screen, which is where the main increase in SVoD viewing is happening. That’s where they want to be, and in the case of Virgin Media, we have the fastest broadband connection in the UK,” he asserted.

“As fast broadband comes in, you are going to see an increase in capacity for households to have multiple high—speed connections to SVoD services in ultra-high definition as well as HD. We see this as a natural shift  from the old ‘walled garden’ approach, where you didn’t need to be aggregated, to a much more traditional relationship with content, which is to be fully embedded in our TV offer, where bundling is now being talked about. Sky in the UK, as a default for its pay service, now comes with Netflix bundled,” he observed.

“As Disney Plus, which had a stellar, fantastic performance during lockdown, will now be quite challenged to see that growth continue. We expect to see those big services requiring to be closer, embedded into our billing and our subscriber relationships ,” he suggested.

“If you look at who makes the content, the players are the same that they’ve always been. The international players are still those same studios. There have been a few new additions, but ultimately, they were the ones that provided the pay channels, and now they are providing the pay apps. I’m quite confident that the aggregator relationship – which is after all, we were an aggregator of linear channels, we are now going to be an aggregator of digital app services – those relationships will continue in the same way,” he concluded.


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