3 Leading subscription marketplaces

In the ever-evolving landscape of subscription-based services, operators have become pivotal players, offering customers convenient access to a wide array of digital and physical products. This article explores three operators that are leading in this space and have launched successful subscription marketplaces.

Capturing the subscription marketplace opportunity

The on-going commoditisation of operators’ connectivity revenues, coupled with declining TV/entertainment offerings and intense competition, has driven many operators to explore new subscription revenue opportunities beyond their traditional telecom business. One such opportunity is to capture the growth of the subscription market by centralising the management of these services across one aggregated platform. This format is generally known as a subscription marketplace and is broadly defined as: “a single platform or service that aggregates, offers and allows users to identify and manage a variety of subscription-based products and services from multiple different providers”.

Three leading subscription marketplaces

Optus, Verizon and Singtel represent the leading examples of operators who have transitioned to adopting subscription marketplaces and have all launched service-based platforms since 2021.

Figure 1: Three leading operator subscription marketplaces

Three leading subscription marketplaces  

Case Study 1: Optus SubHub

Optus Australia launched SubHub in August 2021, which enables the management and curation of a wide range of lifestyle services through one platform with one integrated bill. The service is only available to Optus post-paid and home broadband subscribers. The key feature of SubHub revolves around members receiving discounts of 5% when adding two service subscriptions and 10% when adding three or more subscriptions. There is a strong focus on entertainment services with over 50% of the services available on their platform focused on content streaming (Amazon Prime, Netflix, Paramount+, Britbox). However, they have since expanded into other subscription categories including gaming, reading, cooking, fitness and wellness services with applications such as Calm, Sweat, Inkl, Kindle Unlimited and Microsoft 365.

Figure 2: Optus messaging revolves around ‘your subscriptions streamlined’ 

subscription marketplaces - Optus

The key messaging of the SubHub platform hasn’t changed since launch and focuses on the ability to “simplify, save and discover” with their paid subscriptions, by simplifying the signing up process, making it easy to find new content and services and bundling these multiple subscriptions on a single platform, with a single payment on the Optus monthly bill.

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Case study 2: Verizon +play

In December 2022, Verizon launched a beta version of its +play platform allowing users to discover, purchase and manage a selected list of services from their Verizon app and online. The service is only available to Verizon post-paid mobile, 5G home and LTE home subscribers. The platform focuses on the ability for their customers to easily search for content in one place alongside providing subscription management features. For instance, +play has a notification tab which informs customers about price increase, free trials ending etc.

Figure 3: Verizon messaging focuses on its integrated platform features

subscription marketplaces - Verizon

Source: Verizon

Similarly to Optus, there is a heavy focus on streaming services but since launch they have increasingly expanded into services across multiple categories including gaming, lifestyle and music. They have over forty services in total with 50% focusing on streaming. Other services available include Taste made, Blue Apron, Peloton, Calm, Masterclass and Xbox games pass. Expanding into other service categories allows Verizon customers to take up even more services directly through them, increasing customer stickiness. When Verizon announced its +play proposition it highlighted those customers with an active content subscription had “16 basis points lower churn and significantly higher NPS than those that don’t”.

Interestingly there is no carrier billing with +play. Customers signing up and subscribing to the service via +play must pay via their credit or debit card. Verizon customers using their Verizon Visa Card to pay their +play subscription receive 2% of their purchase back as Verizon Dollars. In terms of developing a relationship with customers via the billing process, by opting for customers to pay via credit card Verizon +play may be losing out on this contact point of interaction compared to Optus.

Case study 3: Singtel CAST.SG

Singtel’s one-stop subscription marketplace, CAST.SG enables consumers to subscribe, manage and pay for their subscriptions all within their platform. Their service is available to post-paid mobile, fibre broadband and TV subscribers with integrated billing. In contrast to Optus and Verizon, non-Singtel customers can subscribe through their debit/credit card, expanding the target market for their proposition.

CAST.SG is an extension of Singtel’s TV offering, CAST, which is a hub for accessing TV channels, streaming services and live sports matches whilst CAST.SG provides a marketplace for accessing all types of services. Similarly to the other operators, content services are a huge focus of the platform, but they have expanded into music, news and wellness categories. Services on offer include Deliveroo Plus, Microsoft 365, Qustodio, Inkl and The Straits Times. Similarly, to the other operators a huge focus of their platform is on subscription management features providing three easy steps to activate subscription services on their platform. This process enables subscribers to access their service directly rather than being re-directed to third party applications.

Figure 4: Singtel messaging primarily focuses on content variability

subscription marketplaces - Singtel

Find out more in our report: Key success factors for capturing the subscription marketplace opportunity

Henry Osborne

Author

Henry Osborne

Consultant

Henry is a Consultant at STL Partners and brings with him a background in internal strategy in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) industry. Since joining STL Partners, he has worked on a variety of topics including private networks, edge computing and B2B growth opportunities for operators.

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