DSPs: the Modern World’s Purveyors of Bottled Water

I hope there’s someone reading this out there who remembers an age when drinking water came out of a tap, a drinking fountain, or for some of us, even a hose. Perhaps like mine, your parents railed against the expense of bottled water: “Who in their right mind would pay for something you can get for free?” That childhood has passed us by, and so too has the aversion to paying for those once free amenities, like water. We love the speed, the convenience, and the peace of mind that the prepackaging brings – not unlike our growing love of convenient content, pre-packaged and ready to consume.


Digital service providers (DSPs) are the modern world’s purveyors of bottled water, regardless of their origin —cable operators, telcos, Over-The-Top players, or brick-and-mortar retailers. These water merchants of today are crafting new digital business, leveraging an existing asset, content, and creating a market for additional monetization and consumption of that already existing asset. Ever hear the skeptics (or even ourselves) say – “100 channels, and nothing to watch?” Well, there is something to watch, it just has to be presented correctly. If you make it convenient, personal, and readily available, we’ll happily pay a premium for something we may already get for free.


While the content itself crucial, it is a commodity; one hit show or movie (offered to consumer in the same old way) rarely will sustain your business for the long-term. Bottled water didn’t turn into a global phenomenon because it was sourced from mountain springs, ironically today the biggest bottlers are typically drawing from municipal water supply. What made it a hit was the singular experience of a personal, portable, convenient serving of water. The same goes for content. The real power comes when you can harness the lifecycle of that content to promote, package, and deliver in different forms throughout that all important content lifecycle.


Developing a differentiated approach to selling content comes down to offering a truly unique content experience. Does this mean creating the greatest apps and user experiences – maybe. But what truly makes that experience unique is that it fades into the background. All of those varied monetization models and promotional packaging offers become so easy for the consumer to understand, purchase, and consume that it is like second nature.


How does this become second nature, and why is that important? Because while Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black are definitely hot today, the long-term winners will be those who 1) make it easy for consumers to find the content they want, 2) make it viewable on any device, anywhere, and 3) allow for it be paid for in the manner the customer wants.


The digital consumer is savvy, but they are also fickle, and increasingly frugal. To capitalize on the first and quell the second two, your merchandising strategy must capitalize on the entire lifecycle of that content to extend brand loyalty, and open untapped (but there for the taking) revenue streams. If Game of Thrones is hot right now – why not create catch up models that allow consumer to keep up in real time? Then, shift that to a rental model allowing consumers to get a quick fix, and capitalize on the most ardent fans with Electronic Sell Through models fostering higher revenue through an ownership model. No longer is Game of Throne hot right now – it remains relevant throughout that entire lifecycle. Once that stickiness is created, use dynamic rewards to convert one-time shoppers into repeat customers, leverage your deep consumer insight to present discounted offers per consumer, and even couple these offerings with traditional services. All of these things – in concert – create that unique consumer experience which is the key to making your presentation of the content, not the content itself, a hot commodity.