The Platform Effect
There is no disputing recently that Over The Top (OTT) approaches to cloud content and smart devices (connected TVs, mobile phones and tablets) have had a huge influence on the media and payTV industry.
Just as new market entrants scrambled to sign content deals and offered a compelling OTT offering, the payTV market leaders also pushed to deliver their valued content to these new screens. They needed to do this to keep up with the innovation curve and meet consumer desires to leverage their new devices.
Many had predicted the demise of traditional media stalwarts and the set-top box (STB) but the industry enjoyed continued growth. However, it is important to recognize that the OTT experiment is in its infancy and innovative internet services and device companies will continue to evolve and learn from their early missteps. This paper discusses why OTT has yet to succeed with consumers and how their relationship is evolving with this new way of watching TV. It will also examine what PayTV operators can learn through this experience in order to continue to enrich their content, differentiate services and get closer to customers to maintain their lead and fulfil growth plans.
While the critical component lacking in most of the OTT offerings is clearly traditional live TV content, trials such as the Hill Holiday OTT user study ‘An Experiment in Cutting the Cord’ have proven that this is not the most frustrating factor for consumers using OTT.
The common thread across all the tested platforms has been that users were fundamentally uncertain of how to watch TV that was not their familiar linear style network feed. OTT’s new “search only” approach violated the common principals of channels, Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs) and TV networks, which to the PayTV operator’s benefit is the comfort zone of the consumer. Consumers simply do not have the time to be engaged in managing their entertainment ecosystem and making decisions. Users consistently commented that they prefer a “lean back and forget” experience where users appreciate the network’s next show. Simply put, they did not know what to watch next.
This presents an interesting challenge to PayTV operators who themselves are starting to offer more cloud-based DVR and web content and Video on Demand (VoD) libraries that may complicate the linear experience. However, it’s also a huge opportunity to take what is known about the consumer’s personal choices, viewing habits and social media interactions (on an opt-in basis) to take the linear experience to a completely new level. It’s an opportunity to create the first “personal linear network” that is customised for each user, blending the best traditional PayTV content with other smart content offering opportunities.