"I think Netherlands has the best mobile network in the world," said Tisha Van Lammeren, director of consumer marketing at T-Mobile Netherlands . "Consumers mobilize everything."
Speaking at an Ericsson event in Amsterdam earlier this month, Van Lammeren described the deployment of T-Mobile's new OTT service, Knippr, aimed at the Dutch youth market. She talked about the drivers for deploying the service, the challenges faced and the reasons T-Mobile chose Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC).
"We didn't have TV skills," she said. "All our skills were in the mobile world."
The operator recognized that it needed a partner with TV service management expertise as it wanted to focus more on marketing and sales rather than diving into new video technologies. It had a "short but intense selection process" according to Van Lammeren, and chose Ericsson because it offered "credibility and innovativeness." (See T-Mobile Netherlands Launches OTT TV With Ericsson.)
Initially T-Mobile had estimated a three-month time-to-market development process. In fact, it took nine months.
"Our expectations were off," admitted Van Lammeren candidly. "We thought we could just pull together bits of broadcast, OTT … add Apple TV, run on Chromecast … it didn't sound that tough. But it was more complicated than expected."
But they got it done. Van Lammeren believes that in retrospect, even nine months was a very short development timeframe to launch such a service. She is happy with the final result and said it was a result of a "joined mindset" with Ericsson.
And while she recognized that the operator's lack of TV skills was a challenge, it also meant that T-Mobile had no TV legacy in the Netherlands. This freed the team to do whatever they wanted.
"We had no stake [in the existing TV business], so we could break rules," she said.
One of the prime drivers for the launch of Knippr was the emerging trend of cord-cutting in the Dutch TV market. T-Mobile was keen to take advantage of it.
"That [cord-cutting] is the trend that Knipper is about," according to Van Lammeren. "We needed to break the connection with bundling which has been the trend in the service provider world for years."
OTT Goes Dutch
Cable-free interactive TV, for those of you not proficient in Dutch. Or without access to Google Translate.
Knippr is offered at the same price to T-Mobile subscribers and non-subscribers. It can be delivered over fixed or mobile networks. Van Lammeren described it as an à la carte service, but it's not quite that. Subscribers pay €10.99 for access to a basic package of 16 channels, including the major broadcasters. They can then add additional channels and services for €1 each.
"We find most consumers use about 15 channels, but have to subscribe to 70 [with traditional TV services]," said Van Lammeren. "So the concept [for Knippr] was not complex, but we were going up against a lot of the big guys."
But the disruptive approach appears to have worked. Knippr gained 20% brand awareness spontaneously, which for Van Lammeren as a marketing person, was the most important metric.
"The à la carte model was very innovative, and so we got a lot of press and coverage," she said.
Another important driver is the lack of a contract. Van Lammeren believes Millennials are quick to adopt, try and drop services if they are not right for them today. So she felt the terms of the Knippr service suit them perfectly.
She didn't disclose subscriber numbers, but said "We are growing fast, and we are seen as a game changer in the market."
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation