Techilicious by Rajiv Makhni: The big hidden tech bargain

The deals your telecom company has entered into with streaming services can save you a lot of cash
Now network, data and entertainment content come bundled in one bill
Now network, data and entertainment content come bundled in one bill
Published on Jul 05, 2020 07:27 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRajiv Makhni

This is a very interesting column. One, it introduces a major hidden bargain that many may not be aware of (thus it’s going to save you big money). Two, it’s going to take your entertainment and information knowledge repository to a whole new level. Three, it proves that the holy grail of all tech, your mobile phone, is getting holier than ever before, in ways we had not even considered!

Without building more suspense, let me come out with it. The biggest hidden bargain in tech right now is your telecom service provider and the deals it’s done with streaming services (also called OTT providers). If you’re still paying individually for your streaming services, you’re making a huge mistake. Pretty much every good streaming service (Netflix, Prime, Zee5, Hotstar, Voot, Sony Liv etc.) is bundled with your mobile phone package, irrespective of which one you’re on.

While I was kind of aware that this was happening and many people were using it, it wasn’t till I read a startling study that I realised just how good a bargain it was. I was paying for four different streaming services per month, individually paying each bill and thinking I was doing well. It was a fat packet to pay per month, but I wasn’t aware that there was an easier and much better alternative. I’ve switched now and I’ve been able to get all the streaming services I was on, in one bundled deal with my network provider – and it’s quite incredible what I’m saving now on a monthly and annual basis.

How it Works

So, how does it work? It’s elementary actually. Rather than the plain vanilla voice and data package that you take from your mobile service provider, look up their premium bundles. Just for a little more money than you’re already paying, you’ll discover that you can get lots of additional benefits at a fraction of the actual monthly sticker price. But your mobile service provider or OTT player isn’t doing you a favour or taking a loss by doing this. The study that was done all across the country by Ovum showed that 45 per cent of the people they surveyed agreed that when streaming plans come bundled with their network carrier, they are more likely to stay loyal to the service provider as well as their network. Thus, a three way win-win.

Why it Works

Let’s look into why this works so well for everyone concerned. In the beginning, when streaming services first hit the Indian market, most people were dismissive of them. Too expensive, where were the data speeds to stream content, we already have a DTH connection, why switch, the content isn’t compelling enough, it’s all in English, no regional content. But streaming took off like a rocket mainly because we suddenly went from a low data speed nation to some serious bandwidth, and that too at super low prices. Also, the content turned out to be world class. More and more players got into it, great new content was created and India-centric content, which was churned out at a breathtaking pace by players such as Netflix (huge investment into their own content a monthly and annual basis creation), Zee5 (fantastic for Indian cinema and TV plus Hindi and regional content) and Hotstar (excellent library, now even better with the Disney collaboration), was great. But eventually it hit a plateau. So many players, each with their own billing and price, different bills to be paid, all became a bit of a hassle. Both, the discovery of streaming services and great content became more dense and difficult to break through in all this noise.

Rather than the voice and data packages, look up bundles offered by your mobile company

Enter the mobile service provider. They struck deals with almost all the OTT players that mattered, bundled them into a neat little bargain package, and added the convenience of having to pay for your network, data and entertainment content plans all in one bill. You don’t have to pay for these separately nor remember when to pay for them – your service provider takes care of it. It’s become such a good situation that a very large number of people surveyed said that they would go through the hassles of porting their number if some other provider was offering the content service they wanted at a better discount or even a longer free trial period. That’s how much this matters now.

What could be better

Some things still need to be done. The service providers need to centralise the system. Once I choose my bundle, I should just have to tick my streaming packages and get onboard to all of them from one place. At the moment, all the OTT services come with their own sign-in requirements. That’s a huge hassle. Also, ads to subsidise this even further could be explored as most people are quite okay with them. These add-ons would make the best bargain in tech even better.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, July 5, 2020

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