OTT Webinar Brings Out the Most Critical Issues for New Video Services

Blog Post created by charliekraus on Sep 30, 2016

There’s no question over-the-top (OTT) services are in demand, but there are many questions on how to do it right and profitably.  On Sept 15 we presented a webinar with Streaming Media on delivering OTT experiences that keep audiences hooked. We invited the audiences’ questions on the topic.  Resoundingly, the topics that are top of mind include how to get a new OTT service noticed, monetization issues around ads and subscriptions, retaining viewers, and the fundamentals of delivering content to the audience.

The webinar led with insights on viewer video-watching habits using data from our semi-annual State of Online Video report. There were several important takeaways:

  •      That smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, computers/laptops, and streaming devices were all popular for viewing
  •      All of the well-known streaming devices including Roku, Apple TV, ChromeCast, Amazon Fire, Xbox, and Sony PS4 were used.
  •      The vast majority of online subscribers have two or fewer OTT services.
  •      There is growing acceptance that content has to be paid for somehow. Viewers are more willing to have ads in the content and pay for subscriptions.
  •      The worldwide OTT market is growing rapidly, increasing fourfold to $32B by 2019 according to a Juniper Research report.


Based on a polling question, most of the attendees either had an OTT service up and running, or have plans to do so within a year. We talked about the competitive advantage of delivering the best possible video experience, due to the competition of nearly 1,000 OTT services already operational. Considering the multi-billion dollar investments Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are making in licensing films and TV shows, identifying a niche programming opportunity is one of the most important efforts any startup OTT service can make.


One of the areas that drew many questions was how a new OTT service can get noticed in the environment of so many services already active. We didn’t have time to cover this issue in depth, so I’m going to cover this here.

Due to the huge array of video programming consumers are faced with, search tools are a requirement to find content of interest. Happily, the “TV Guide” concept had grown up and adapted to today’s landscape. Here are several web-based programming guides that any new service needs to be included in to be found:

There is an option worth investigating from Amazon Prime. OTT services can become an Amazon partner. Your programming is listed in the Amazon video guide, promoted to the Amazon subscriber base, monthly billing handled by Amazon, content delivered on the Amazon Fire stick.

Complementary to the guides are recommendation engines. Enabling your users to find content is critical to the success of your OTT platform. In the early days of OTT, content discovery was largely done through browsing—users would select the “channels” or “categories” from which they wanted content and then select the content to consume. But that puts a tremendous burden on your audience. In order to find the content available on they want to watch, they have to browse through listings. And if search engines are any indication, if users don’t find the results they want on the first or second page, they aren’t going any deeper.


To modernize your OTT platform, start by improving your content discovery functionality. That requires you to implement a recommendation engine to provide a higher degree of personalization—a software component integrated with your OTT platform that analyzes the content consumed by people and recommends similar or related content. To make the most out of your recommendation engine, you’ll need metadata for each title in your library. With the recommendation engine installed, your database will build over time as the software collects data and generates analysis. This upgrade to your OTT platform will ensure that your visitors are presented with new content to consume rather than requiring them to find it on their own! Providing that level of convenience is one aspect of the overall experience that draws viewers back.


Here are some popular recommendation engines recommendation engines that you can integrate with your OTT platform to provide for more personalized video discovery:






To learn more, there is a white paper on building an OTT service available here. To watch the recorded version of the webinar, click here and register to view the webinar. If you have any questions on the webinar content, you can email me -