Verizon’s Big Netflix Play Points to Future of Streaming Aggregation

Verizon checkmark mixed with a Netflix logo
Illustration: VIP+

Verizon’s Plus Play service has officially made its grand entrance on the streaming aggregation stage.

In addition to a clever ad set to the Beatles’ “All Together Now,” the telecom company marked the platform’s launch with an eye-catching promo offer: One free year of Netflix Premium, the streamer’s most robust and expensive tier, with the purchase of another “qualifying” subscription via Plus Play, which lets users manage an array of streaming and other monthly subscriptions all in one place.

The promo serves to highlight what is arguably the biggest coup for Verizon’s new venture: getting Netflix on board. The streamer had resisted all other attempts to package and sell it alongside its rivals, remaining conspicuously absent from major streaming aggregators like Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels and Alphabet’s YouTube TV and Primetime Channels.

Of course, it’s not hard to see why: Prime Video, Apple TV+ and YouTube are all major Netflix competitors, while Verizon has no skin in the streaming game (anymore). It’s only logical that Netflix should be more willing to collaborate, and share revenue with, a company that isn’t one of its chief rivals.

Nor is Netflix the only aggregation holdout to join Plus Play; Disney’s portfolio of streaming services is available through the platform as well, marking a first for the Mouse House. Indeed, only one of the major U.S.-based SVODs, Peacock, is not offered on Plus Play at the moment (though Hulu and ESPN+ subscriptions are not available a la carte, only through a subscription to the Disney Bundle).

And that could be a game-changer for the streaming aggregation landscape, at a moment when consumer demand for a streamlined subscription package is becoming ever more palpable.

An October-November survey of streaming users across 10 countries by Accenture and Oxford Economics found that 86 percent of respondents were interested in an app that managed all of their subscriptions through a single platform — the very type of platform, in other words, that Verizon is now offering.

That means there is robust demand for such platforms that other telecom companies, namely AT&T and T-Mobile, could and should step up to meet. Plus Play’s reach will be limited by design, as the service is only available to Verizon customers, and while the other major cellular providers have not been widely discussed as potential streaming aggregators, it makes perfect sense for them to enter this field.

As noted above, these companies are not competing with streamers and therefore are more likely than the Big Tech players to land their cooperation. But there are other reasons, too, including the growing significance of mobile streaming and the fact that phone-service providers, as one of consumers’ most important and consistent monthly bills, are well positioned to help their customers manage other recurring payments.

There may be sticking points along the way as streamers and would-be aggregators haggle over revenue-sharing terms and other matters (carriage disputes à la cable may no longer be a thing of the past). But resolving these disagreements quickly will be in the best interest of all parties involved, with streamers in need of new strategies to continue subscriber growth as the domestic market begins to stagnate. With the launch of Plus Play, such a strategy is now revealing itself.