By Jason Friedlander, Director, Marketing Communications
The last 10 years have seen enormous changes in the way viewers consume and engage with video content, and in the next 10, the pace will only get faster. The rapid adoption of smart TVs and digital streaming devices is just the beginning of a transformation that will include the rise of immersive AR and VR experiences, one-to-one advertising and personalized viewing experiences. If you think you have bandwidth bottlenecks today, wait until millions of viewers want to tune into a 360-degree livestream of a major game through their Oculus Rifts, complete with interactive VR product experiences instead of traditional ads, each personalized to the individual viewer. The combinations of content that must be delivered for such a broadcast to work are countless.
Broadcasting such an experience will take a completely new breed of streaming video platform, one with the flexibility and capacity to enable creation and delivery of the highest-quality content to the viewing audience.
Here are five ways OTT providers can prepare now for the technology of the future:
1. Develop the tools to match broadcast quality
Although more viewers are electing to cancel cable subscriptions and rely instead on OTT options for their entertainment, the truth is that broadcast is still the quality standard to beat. As technology continues to evolve rapidly, the increased demand for live streaming and high-definition content will call for creative solutions from OTT providers. Content providers need a way to reduce the burden on them to deliver high-quality video streams – from mezzanine feeds that preserve the integrity of data for each of their service partners to highly optimized encoded streams. The winners in the streaming video landscape of the future will be the companies that can address these needs in the present.
2. Streamline delivery
The number of platforms available for viewers to receive content is growing at a staggering rate. Right now, if a content provider wants to send a feed to Google or Amazon or Comcast, that provider has to conform with the way each of these companies has set up its delivery model. Every time a new platform arrives on the scene, or an existing platform changes its model, the content provider has to scramble to stay relevant.
However, if a single IP feed can exist, then it reduces the burden on the content provider to tailor distribution of the content. A dedicated network is created where the OTT platform can retrieve the data and deal with any adjustments it needs to make, rather than giving the content provider the burden of tailoring the data based on delivery requirements of each service provider or OTT platform. Instead, the content provider can focus on creating better content, and promoting that content to earn more revenue.
3. Perfect infrastructure
Even as content providers work to customize their content, they will still be limited by any issues in the infrastructure that delivers that data. Generally, an internet speed of at least 3 Mb/s is needed to stream high-quality video to the viewer. For 4K, a minimum threshold of 11 Mb/s is recommended by some websites, but that can increase to 25 Mb/s required depending on the site and the video. Most well-populated suburbs and cities have internet access that allows people to stream at these speeds, but it is difficult to sustain that threshold over time. Not to mention, there are still many rural areas in the U.S. that don't have speeds anywhere near those numbers.
4. Provide control and insight
Once it becomes easier to deliver high-quality content to viewers, the next step is to increase the control a content provider has over that distribution. The future of video streaming will be an integrated end-to-end platform where content can be created, managed, produced, syndicated and delivered to OTT services or directly to the viewer.
For example, think about a content provider that creates a show and then, as part of its promotion, selects five different clips to play on its Snapchat. If the provider has a way of knowing which clip was viewed the most, it could elect to include that clip in the YouTube trailer for the show. It could decide to film more episodes of the show that include scenes like the one that performed well on Snapchat, and to avoid scenes like the ones that didn't perform as well.
Right now, the reality is that most content providers don't have access to that kind of data. As those providers lose the security of cable subscribers, they start to assume the risk of whether their content will perform well in a subscription or ad model. The goal of a robust content intelligence system is to reduce that risk by providing insight into that viewer experience and control over how a content provider delivers, promotes and monetizes that experience.
5. Adapt quickly
As the streaming landscape changes so rapidly, it can be a challenge to keep up with new demands and limitations. For instance, my old company Uplynk, acquired by Verizon Digital Media Services several years ago, solved issues with video streaming to multiple platforms, but then there were still issues with workflow. We responded by introducing the Slicer application, which runs parallel to broadcast content workflows for live or VOD and which greatly reduced costs associated with launched OTT efforts.
To make these innovations, OTT providers need to listen to their customers. The content providers are the ones responsible for creating and delivering content, and they know firsthand the obstacles they face in that process. If one customer is having a particular problem, it's an opportunity not only to help that particular customer, but also to continually improve the experience for everyone. In this way, the customers on the ground floor are constantly providing feedback that enables a company like Verizon Digital Media Services to better support and empower their content delivery services.
Get in touch with us today to learn how our end-to-end platform supports OTT delivery for today's technology and in the years to come.