Disney sneaks in with content aggregator move

A couple of weeks ago on the podcast we discussed an idea where telcos could add worth to the content value chain, and now Disney has snuck in there ahead of the telcos.

The idea of the super-aggregator of content is an interesting one, because there is just so much content out there. Ericsson released a survey recently which stated 70% of consumers would want a super search engine which would collect all the content in one place. The time it takes to find something you want to watch is increasing, which will probably lead to frustration, or at least it does for your correspondent.

Disney has decided to launch Movies Anywhere, a free app and website that enables consumers to manage and watch their personal digital movie collections across studios, retailers and platforms. Right now it brings together the Disney studios (Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm) but also third-parties including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. It’s still a small list of participants, but the idea of being a content aggregator which sits on top of all the squabbling is a good one.

“Movies Anywhere means that consumers never have to remember where they purchased a film or which device they can watch it on, because all of their eligible movies will be centralized within their Movies Anywhere library and available across platforms through the Movies Anywhere app and website and also available at their connected digital retailers,” said Karin Gilford, General Manager of the Movies Anywhere team.

We’re wondering whether this is a missed opportunity for the telcos. The telcos have a very unique relationship with their customers, as it is very singular. The content providers are all fighting for your attention, but the telcos don’t have to; most people only have one personal smartphone.

And considering trends are moving more towards watching content on mobile devices, the singular relationship between the telco and the customer becomes more of a coup. There is a challenge for the consumer, and there is an opportunity to create an offering which addresses this challenge, why should the telcos take on the traditional content players at their game, when they can just help them play better with the consumer?

People and companies generally aren’t very good at doing things they’ve never done before. This should be a statement which most would except without any issues, but this is essentially what the telcos are doing in the content space. Throwing a bit of money around, but not as much as the traditional content players, and believing they will be able to recapture dwindling profits.

And generally, there hasn’t been a notable amount of success. You could argue BT is doing an alright job in the sport content space, albeit for a big price tag, but this isn’t really doing content. It is buying the right to broadcast something which is happening. This isn’t really creating anything, its relaying it to the customer, which is something the telcos could be very good at. This is essentially what Disney is doing here.

The idea of the super-aggregator doesn’t have to include your own content. In this case it does, Disney’s own productions are included in the deal, but it is simply a place for the consumer to collect content so he/she doesn’t have to navigate several gateways before finding the right title.

All is not lost for the telcos in this space, as the focus of Disney’s aggregator is pretty limited; it’s just movies at the moment. There are other content areas which consumers subscribe to and find the same frustration, so there is an opportunity to create an interesting offering, but it will come down to speed and relationships.

Another area which might be worth bearing in mind is Netflix. It is widely regarded as the most popular OTT content provider out there, and it is unlikely to feature in any future Disney proposition (assuming they move outside of the movie circle), considering the bitter battle which is raging on between the two. Disney has recently pulled all of its content from the Netflix platform, so a reunion between the two is unlikely. Bagging Netflix as a partner could be a winning move.

Once again, it comes down to the ambition of the telcos. Are they willing to do something different to survive the utilization slide?

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