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Starz SVP of Distribution Believes Consumer Flexibility Is Key in Retention of Subscribers

Stephanie Sengwe

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an uptick for the streaming industry. However, with so many services to choose from, services face stiff competition to differentiate themselves now more than ever. Some, like Peacock, are doing so by offering live TV elements to their platforms, while other like Apple TV+ have attempted to carve their own paths by offering lower prices.

With so much attention going toward the standalone services, the future of OTT services comes into question as they not only have to compete with the top standalone streamers, but they also have to cater to their traditional pay-TV customers as well.

During a panel titled “The Future of Bundling Over OTT” for FierceVideo’s OTT Blitz Week today, Stefanie Meyers, Starz SVP of Distribution, revealed that flexibility will be ultimately be key in retaining subscribers. “The future of bundling will probably be more robust than it is today. One advantage of being a premium service at this moment in time is that we’ve been able to shift to serve the traditional customers in the kinds of bundles and packages they still subscribe to in huge numbers, but also find ways to provide value to consumers who interact with TV in different ways, on different platforms,” Meyers stated.

“We’re shifting from this perspective of the traditional world where you had one way to get to the content and we’re moving into this world where we need to meet the customers where they are .. .[If] they want it a la carte this month and they want it bundled with something next month, we should be there meeting them where they are.”

Jim O’Neill, principal industry analyst at Brightcove concurred with Meyers stating, “We say ‘content drives this, technology drives that’ but really in the end it’s the consumer who drives everything … Disney among broadcasters acknowledged that OTT is its future. The debut of Disney+ and it’s bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu is a great example of where I think broadcasters want to go, but we’re seeing that consumers are not necessarily jumping on.”

“For instance, the virtual MVPD bandwagon, they’re signing up for it, but this whole idea of pay-TV 2.0 being the next pay-TV isn’t really where they want to go. It’s not going to survive this evolution, consumers really don’t want it. They want to be able to micromanage their bundles.”