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Want to watch sport on TV – better talk to your telco

By July 6, 2016 No Comments

Last week my colleague Stephen O’Loughlin wrote about how telcos are now positioning themselves as being digital service providers / entertainment companies / onLife companies. In Ireland we have three mobile operators – eir, 3 and Vodafone. Two of them offer TV services as part of multi-play deals. Just this week in Ireland,  eir announced a deal that they will have exclusive rights to broadcast all games in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Ireland on their TV channel eir Sports.

Rugby is a big deal in Ireland and this should see eir attract lots of new customers to their TV service. It’s a bold move and takes a leaf out of Netflix’s view that content is king, and if you want to attract customers then you need to have the rights to compelling content.  For the moment eir Sports is being made available free of charge to existing eir broadband customers in a move to increase stickiness. Reported in the Irish Times, eir have said that “they are considering ways of developing its content portfolio in other areas, such as music and entertainment…. although it wants to bed down its sports content first”.

The move to become entertainment companies and not phone companies is well underway. This presents a great opportunity for service providers to upsell to their existing customer base and get people using sticky offers that will drive down churn rates.

But in order to succeed service providers may have to review how they segment their customer base when marketing content services. Content is subjective in nature. What one person sees as cool content that they’d pay money to watch / listen to, others see as rubbish. Knowing what customer’s like is important when building up a profile of a customer. For example, a service provider could see if a customer visits the web site of Liverpool football club a lot. If so, then there’s a good chance this customer is a Liverpool fan. So if the service provider launches Liverpool TV channel then this customer should get a personalized offer. If they’re a high value customer, maybe give two months free access to Liverpool TV. Conversely, if there is a customer who visits Manchester United’s website a lot, then you know what to offer them. The thing with content, especially sports, is that sometimes subjectivity can be stretched. Do not offer a Manchester United fan a deal on Liverpool TV and vice versa. They may very well churn, or give you some bad press on social media. It’s common sense really, but common sense needs to be applied to the automated systems that are pushing out offers. A service provider may have a category of customers as ‘football fans’. This is ok for high level content (e.g. coverage of major championships). But when you start to look at promoting TV channels and content based on specific clubs, then you really need to go beyond categorising customers as sports fans, or football fans. They need to be categorised as Liverpool fans, Manchester United fans, etc.

Providing content delivers some excellent opportunities for service providers to open new revenue streams.  They’ve got a ready-made customer base of existing mobile and fixed line customers. They’ve got the systems to collect usage that can be used for detailed customer profiles. But in order to make the most of it and upsell offers to existing customers, then service providers need to dive deep into the data they collect to build deep customer profiles and use real-time data to trigger relevant and contextually aware offers.

This way you’re going beyond advanced segmentation and marketing. It’s pretty much getting to the market of the individual. Content marketing nirvana – maybe, but the data is there, the real-time data prep and offer management systems are there, and as we’re seeing with some brave moves by service providers, the will to change is there.


Barry Marron

GVP Marketing