Secret Formula To Winning The OTT Race: Success Equals Quality

Quality of experience is the single core element of an Over-The-Top (OTT) business that can be fully controlled and optimized. Failing to plan for viewer experience management is as good as planning to fail.

According to Nielsen, traditional TV still has a leg up on streaming subscription services, but the gap is narrowing, with 47% of American households using at least one streaming service.

Despite the seemingly unquenchable thirst for binge watching and mold-breaking scripted programing, such as “Orange is the New Black," why does traditional TV continue to dominate? The answer may be because of its consistency and reliability in delivery.

So how can online video delivery surpass traditional TV? In order for OTT to win out, it needs to redefine success by combining quality of content with quality of experience (an area where traditional TV enjoys near-total consistency).

The Internet is a fickle and complex beast;providers cannot simply blame the content if viewer numbers fail to meet expectations. OTT is infinitely more complex and has more hurdles than traditional TV. What is required is a new architecture for monitoring, measuring and maintaining.

Big Data Isn’t Enough
Just having a huge data set is simply not adequate. In the OTT world, it’s possible to track every single view. However, tracking everything that happens – not just the views, but a frame-by-frame breakdown of activity – creates its own set of challenges: an ocean of data, with no simple way to turn it into action.

This is a dangerous prospect that can do more harm than good. Big data has been treated as a buzzword for years, but it’s worth little without actionable insights to back it up.

Not Just Data, Actionable Insights
The focus in the OTT industry has understandably been on the technology. However, the industry now needs to take a step back and focus on what really matters: Business goals that must be achieved. Ultimately, any TV service – from 100% traditional to purely OTT – has a very simple set of objectives: attract, entertain and retain viewers.

This means the data being collected must be able provide insight, otherwise it’s a relatively useless repository of numbers. Actionable insights allow providers to clearly see both statistical measurements and opportunities to make adjustments that can impact those measurements, and thus the business’ bottom line.

Real-Time, Automated Course Corrections
OTT moves too fast for traditional TV measuring and problem solving methods, which are inherently backward-looking. By the time many OTT providers even realize there’s a problem, many viewers have already given up on the service.

The solution is to automate the system to be as self-healing and even self-optimizing as possible. In OTT environments, quality of experience is fluid and can change from second to second. Observing a statistically meaningful delivery issue the next day does nothing more than seed the post-mortem meeting.

Finding opportunities for success in real-time and executing the adjustments necessary to offset the delivery challenge can have a tangible effect on outcomes and keep viewers viewing and engaged.

With appropriate automation in place, adjustments can occur quickly enough that the problem never actually arises or remains imperceptible to the viewer. Having real-time actionable insights – and the automation to swiftly respond to them – can deliver results that simply aren’t possible with post ex facto measurements.

OTT Success = Quality of Experience x Quality of Content
Redefining the way content providers run their OTT platforms is critical to being successful. What is required is a unified, real-time information architecture that provides actionable insights that in turn deliver measureable outcomes that impact the business’ bottom line. If content is king, then delivery is queen. It is unacceptable to consider quality of experience as anything other than equally important as quality of content.
1 comment about "Secret Formula To Winning The OTT Race: Success Equals Quality".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, December 15, 2015 at 9:53 a.m.

    Many valid points, Keith. I would note that in terms of total TV/video usage, traditional TV still has a huge lead over OTT---something like a 10-to 1 edge in total tonnage. And, as you point out, it's tonnage---or repeat usage---that will be the key to any OTT service's survival in this increasingly crowded arena. In order to gain critical mass in terms of subscribers and renewals, a successful OTT service will have to not only learn what motivates its subscribers as viewers---and what doesn't---but also, to think competitively, as the TV networks have done for so long. In other words, each OTT service is competing with rivals and an endless array of newbies, not operating in a vacuum.

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