So you already have an OTT platform. Congratulations. You are part of the rising tide that is sweeping the world. If you are in doubt, just look to recent data from the Limelight Networks State of Online Video (December, 2015) report:
Over the past year (early 2015 to late 2015), people are consuming more online video. More Netflix, more Hulu, and more YouTube.
But have you noticed anything about your own service? Is it difficult to keep your audience engaged? Are you losing subscribers? Are you struggling to provide an experience that keeps your audience coming back for more? If you answered “yes” to any of those, you aren’t alone. Although OTT is exploding in popularity, that is part of the challenge—there’s so much for consumers to chose from that it’s hard to keep them attached to your service, especially when signing up and ending subscriptions is really nothing more than a mouse click away.
What you need is to “up your game” and that means making some changes to your core platform. Listed below are some of the common challenges that OTT providers face and a brief explanation of what you might do to overcome it:
- Content—It’s obvious that you need great, compelling content to keep your subscribers happy. But what kind of content will you offer next to keep them engaged and watching more? Our advice—don't just license the same content that everyone else is licensing. Find a niche. Take a look at hortustv.com for example. It’s an entire OTT offering targeted at gardening enthusiasts. Think they have problems keeping their audience coming back for more content? Probably not.
- Content discovery—Enabling viewers to find content that interests them is critical in keeping them engaged with your platform. How will you empower content discovery on your platform? Our advice—implement a good recommendation engine. There are a ton of them out there (ContentWise, DigitalSmiths, Jinni). Having a good one will enable users to discover new content that appeals to them through behavioral analysis.
- Global reach—As viewers consume more of your content on their mobile devices, make sure you can reach them wherever they are. How will you ensure that your platform is ready for a worldwide audience? Our advice—work with a commercial CDN that has infrastructure already installed throughout the globe (that means picking the right partner, not just any CDN). This will ensure that you have reach while also keeping you from spending lots of money building out your own network.
- Scale—Because a video can go viral in a heartbeat, be prepared to deal with sudden scale when a flash crowd forms around your content. How will you achieve the scale you need without over investing in infrastructure? Our advice—okay, this one is covered by your CDN partner as well. Sure, you can use the cloud or build your own infrastructure but what happens when you exceed your own (or the cloud’s) capacity? You end up having a lot of idle machines sitting around, waiting to be put into service.
- Multi-device—Viewers are no longer locked into their television for their video consumption. With an array of devices at their fingertips, they are watching your content wherever, and on whatever device, they want. How do you ensure that your content is viewable on all those devices when your users want it? Our advice—find a capable partner that can convert your video for you on-the-fly. You shouldn’t have to pre-transcode your videos to different formats. With today’s powerful edge computing, you should be able to analyze the incoming request header, determine what device is needed, and transcode automatically in the event the format isn’t in your CDN cache.
- QoE—Quality of Experience is paramount to reducing subscriber churn. You need to provide the best possible content experience by fine-tuning essential KPIs4. How will you maximize the viewing experience to keep customers engaged with your content? Our advice—use a third-party service (like Nice People at Work’s YOUBORA platform) that can not only provide you metrics for how your video delivery is performing but can also help you switch to different CDN providers in the event that one is performing poorly.
- Subscriber attrition—Consumers have more choice than ever from whom they will source their video content. How are you protecting your subscriber base? Our advice—beyond the obvious (like having great and compelling content), watch out for too much advertising and, if you are A-VOD, let them skip it. According to Limelight Networks’ State of Online Video report, viewers hate advertising in front of videos, especially Millennials.
Whatever you do, don’t just sit back and expect that your content will carry your OTT platform. Remember that you are building a digital content experience, not just delivering videos. And that means you have to keep on your toes when it comes to engaging your audience and keeping them stuck to your platform.
For a more in-depth look at these challenges, download our whitepaper, “OTT 2.0: How To Build a Better Mousetrap.”