These days it can be very hard to keep track of all our subscription services. £7.99 here, £8.99 there, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify…small amounts of money trickle out of all our bank accounts every month adding up to quite substantial sums. While we may have subscriptions for everything from magazines to charity payments, it’s the entertainment streaming services that it’s easy to forget about. Until you notice an email notification about another payment that’s just gone out of your account and realise you haven’t watched anything on that service for weeks, so that’s another few quid down the drain. At least with a gym contract, the larger payment and guilt factor means it’s never far from your thoughts – even if you haven’t been for three months.

With so many online streaming services for households to manage, wouldn’t it be easier to bundle them in one place?

Some telcos already offer entertainment bundles. Talk Talk TV gives you all the freeview channels, plus ‘Boosts’ including Sky channels (but not the prized Sky Atlantic), NOW TV, plus kids’ channels, sports etc. You can add Amazon Prime and Netflix by paying an extra charge for each. It’s only available if you have TalkTalk broadband, and ‘the costs can add up quickly’ according to an online review. Similarly, BT TV also offer lots of channels plus Amazon Prime and Netflix. But at the moment no UK telco is bundling up, not just TV and on-demand TV and film channels, but music streaming services like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music, and gaming services like Twitch and others. Yet this would make things much simpler for customers and telcos seem obviously placed to do it, because our phones are our crucial conduit to all of these things. Commuters watching Netflix while sat on the bus or train has become commonplace; it seems that no one’s put off by having to watch Peaky Blinders on their pocket-sized mobile screens.

A couple of years ago The BIO Agency carried out research that showed that 9 out of 10 respondents think of their telco as a utility. People just don’t currently feel the kind of loyality to telcos that they do to ‘top tier’ tech brands like Apple and Google, and in the long term this presents a problem or perhaps a dilemma for telcos. Do they decide their place lies in engineering and providing infrastructure, or become to an even greater degree the enabler of customers’ digital lives? Perhaps packaging up, not just TV channels and on-demand services but music streaming and gaming services as well, with a simple but intuitive interface, and offering ease, flexibility and value for money telcos could find a significant way to increase consumer loyalty. After all, when managing your entertainment packages is made easier and more convenient, with just one payment to make and the ability to add and subtract services whenever you want, who wants to go back to having to manage multiple providers with multiple payments?

From the customer’s perspective, being able to switch providers on and off, in one place, quickly and easily would be helpful – and maybe put an end to those scenarios where you realise you haven’t so much as thought about one of your providers and their content for a couple of months. Telcos could also find a way to integrate content, so that customers can, if they so choose, see the latest content across all their entertainment providers in a single view.

Will telcos take this potential step forward? Or are they too busy worrying about the omnichannel challenge and the potential IoT opportunities of 5G to think about it? Perhaps different businesses will take different paths, but at a time when consumers favour ease and simplicity amongst the noise – and feel little loyalty to telcos – it’s definitely something to think about.

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