2021 Comperemedia Telecom & Media Trends: How’d We Do? (Part 2)

September 22nd, 2021 | Emily Groch

Each fall, we develop our annual industry trends based on industry observations, competitive marketing, and consumer data. This year, as the world navigated an ongoing pandemic, we observed a continued demand for internet connectivity and reliance on digital entertainment that have propelled forward many of the trends we predicted for the year. As we start preparing our 2022 trends, we continue evaluating the progress of the Comperemedia 2021 Telecom & Media Trends. In Part 1, we discussed the ‘Wireless Comes Home’ and ‘License and Entertainment, Please’ trends. Here, we look at how the ‘Multidimensional Engagement’ and ‘The Embedded Advantage’ trends fared.

Multidimensional Engagement

A wide variety of streaming media providers will embrace new collaborations that integrate storytelling across their platforms. They will work together to implement new in-platform features and second screen engagements that enable rich, multi-dimensional experiences, especially those that pertain to gaming and sports betting.

How’d we do? We saw the trend play out, but the real momentum is yet to come.

This trend is driven by the increasing demand for unique, memorable and exciting virtual experiences. We saw massive potential to create these kinds of experiences with gaming and sports betting integrations in 2021. The biggest news about gaming from the streaming video space has been Netflix’s foray into mobile games. Netflix is currently testing mobile games in Poland, and we suspect there will be some exciting second-screen opportunities for Netflix as part of its new genre of content.

On the sports-betting front, Dish and FuboTV introduced stand-out integrations this year. Dish incorporated DraftKings stats and betting capabilities (for users in states where betting is legal) directly into its TV interface, enabling engagement during live sporting events. Dish plans to bring the capabilities to Sling TV in the future. FuboTV, meanwhile, introduced free-to-play games and live stats on its service for users of compatible platforms.

We also anticipated providers would evolve social viewing in 2021, after many co-viewing capabilities were introduced hastily in 2020 to respond to a need arising during the pandemic. We’ve seen some exciting and different developments on this front in 2021 already. One of these is a partnership between HBO Max and Snapchat, whereby HBO Max is making some episodes of its original content available to Snapchat users. Via Snapchat, they can co-watch with up to 63 other Snapchat friends, and chat or share Bitmojis with each other during the episode. This integration is also evidence of another piece from the previous trend ‘License and Entertainment, Please,’ where we anticipated streamers would get more creative with sampling approaches. Snapchat enables HBO Max to sample content, since it makes only select episodes available for free, thereby encouraging users to subscribe to HBO Max to continue watching.\

Another noteworthy development in social viewing in 2021 is Apple’s new SharePlay feature, coming this fall. SharePlay enables users to share video and music content with friends via FaceTime. One of its unique features is shared controls for all participants. Apple will launch SharePlay starting with its own services, but will eventually enable users to engage with content from other services, such as HBO Max, Disney+, and Paramount+.

The activity we are observing in 2021 is only the beginning of a wealth of gaming, betting, and other more social virtual experiences that will continue to evolve as technology and connectivity improve. Providers are laying the groundwork for more immersive, exciting virtual experiences to come.

The Embedded Advantage

In 2021, service providers will look to new hardware integrations (in-house and/or through partnerships) to capture larger audiences and drive greater engagement, as hardware and services become more deeply intertwined.

How’d we do? The trend is unfolding but is far from peaking.

For 2021, we expected Apple to launch exciting new experiences enabled by its integration of hardware and various services under its Apple One bundles. One of the most interesting experiences Apple announced in 2021 is group workouts, enabled by the new SharePlay functionality and its Fitness+ service. In addition to being able to enjoy videos and music with friends via FaceTime, users will be able to work out with friends via SharePlay. They will see their own metrics and progress, and also be able to see when their friends are moving ahead, enabling friendly competition. The “friendly competition” piece, paired with a wide variety of workouts, makes the new offering compelling in the home fitness space that has become increasingly competitive during the pandemic.

We also anticipated that more video providers would partner with or perhaps even purchase hardware manufacturers in order to have greater control over the customer experience. When we outlined this trend, we pointed to the rumors that Comcast was exploring a deal with Walmart to manufacture TV sets that would run on the X1 platform. Recent news suggests that Comcast will, in fact, be launching TVs, but they will be manufactured by Hisense. One key differentiator of Comcast’s XClass TVs from other sets will be the X1 platform powering the TVs and the easy-to-use voice remote that is a staple of Comcast’s video experience. Buyers will also get a year of Comcast’s streaming service Peacock free.

Amazon is also getting into connected TVs, expanding beyond streaming sticks and set-top boxes. Amazon’s new TVs will bring TikTok to the big screen in the US and will feature an autoplay feature to keep the content coming. Additionally, Netflix’s ‘Play Something’ shuffle feature will be accessible on the TV by telling Alexa to “play something on Netflix” – an exclusive feature for Amazon’s Fire TVs. Another unique feature for Amazon’s line of TVs is native Zoom video calling. If you’re a TikTok lover, or a Zoom user who wants to have conference calls on your big screen, these features from Amazon Fire TV can make the experience of these services that much better and could be enough to drive you toward Amazon’s TV, particularly.

There is great value in being able to control the user experience across hardware and services. As such, we expect to see brands that can integrate them well rise to the forefront with augmented and virtual reality in the years ahead.

Emily Groch

Emily Groch

Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications, providing omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to telecom providers.