Over the top video is a hot topic, at least if the turnout from at the OTT Conference in San José this week is an indication. The event was packed and there was literally a buzz of conversation in the hallway about trends regarding delivery of content to the home. One of the most impressive things I saw at this conference is the independent telco presence at this event; distributors, associations, suppliers and telcos were all at this conference in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Another interesting development is the number of cloud-based middleware providers. Companies such as Dyyno, MG Media, Pathfinder, Verismo Networks demonstrated their offerings at this conference.
Minvera Networks demonstrated their xTV-Fusion 5.0 platform running a combination of traditional IPTV, along with the integration of over-the-top services. This sort of hybrid approach offers their existing service providers a way to embrace over-the-top applications as well as provide service providers that haven’t jumped into video with some new business model approaches.
And models are changing as evidenced by comments from Mark Benscheidt, the VP of Broadcaster Business Development of Sezmi, who suggested that, “The business model of television is broken. Broadcasters will fail to exist in the next 5 years, if they can’t navigate the new playing field. The guy who wills will be the one who can present the 5 things people want to see; the playlist is the future.”
Richard Yelen, Vice President, Managing Director for over-the-top video infrastructure provider NeuLion, reinforced the point that over-the-air television’s days may be limited in his talk. He pointed to DishTV as being, “Way ahead of the pack,” in terms of how they are using OTT to drive new revenue streams. This is allowing them to reach the television set in areas, such as MDUs, where customers cannot use satellite dishes.
Yelen pointed to the importance of authentic social networking to driving demand. One of their customers, UFC earned $1/2 million from the first event they put online. The Twitter feed for the CEO of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), which has over 1 million followers, was a key driver to getting people to pay for this over-the-top event that included unique features, such as viewer-selected camera angles and audio feeds.
Social applications are among the top three most popular that people are using with their connected TVs, according to Russ Schafer Senior Director of Global Product, Connected TV, Yahoo!. VOD and real-time information (e.g. weather, news, etc.) are two other applications are also popular. Social applications are really an electronic extension of word of mouth, as Yahoo! reported that some 20% of the people with connected televisions that use social sites on TV make their purchase decisions based on social recommendations.
Still, there was a great deal of talk in the hallways about the fragmented market and how the process for accessing content needs to be simplified. It is becoming a given that 2nd screens will be one method for improving the customer experience, particularly with regards to viewing and managing metadata, while servicing as controller for the primary screen.
There are kinks with two-screen interactions that need to be ironed out, as pointed out by Jeremy Toeman of Stage Two. He cited the example of the use-case where multiple people are watching television and the one, whose smart phone is controlling the program, goes to the bathroom, effectively taking the remote control with him. Similarly, who is the master, when multiple people are trying to control the second screen from their respective personal media devices? This could portend a new generation of “remote control wars”.
Jeremy Toeman also gave designers some good tips, including:
- Lean back means “passive experience”.
- 2nd screen should have all the text heavy comments.
- People don’t want to log-in or have passwords on their televisions.
Toeman’s updated his predictions for losers and winners in his session. He cited the big service providers, TV manufacturers and content owners as being among the winners. He suggested that the biggest winner would be the consumer, provided the new features that the over-the-top approach unleashes are not overwhelming.