OTT: Running to stand still?
Recent mergers in the communication services sector, companies like Disney going over-the-top with direct-to-consumer offerings and leading providers in Europe and Asia placing huge bets on OTT services, are disrupting the industry. Nevertheless, despite all this action, it still feels as if we are in both a mature and growth phase of the OTT media market at one and the same time.
The current state of OTT
While service providers have been busy expanding into the OTT space, their frenemies at Netflix and Amazon have also been hard at work, making an aggressive global push. On a recent visit to Mumbai, I was surprised to see massive billboards all over town showcasing their latest releases like Jack Ryan and Sacred Games, a Netflix Bollywood original production.
So what’s going on? Is OTT at a saturation point, or is there still a vast blue ocean of OTT ahead of us? Borrowing shamelessly from Clayton Christensen’s seminal Harvard Business Review article and framework, I think the answer depends on what you believe are the “jobs to be done.”
Are we focusing on the right areas?
If you believe the “job to be done” is to present a library of movies and music titles to consumers with reasonable customer experience, collect monthly recurring revenue and make sure that the platform runs flawlessly with super high availability, then I would say we are in an almost mature state. This is not what I believe.
We need to make content more accessible for viewers to explore, evaluate, consume and purchase. At this moment, recommendations in these areas are primarily based on metadata. With the help of AI, we can create educated, real-time recommendations, highlighting contextual offerings and titles to consumers relevant to their day-to-day life.
Interestingly, according to a recent survey from Vanson Bourne, 60% of consumers are willing to give up their data for better access to content. However, before pay-TV providers use customer data to deliver a better experience, they need to show what consumers are getting in return for sharing their data transparently. This is crucial, as privacy isn’t one-size-fits-all and consumers’ data privacy has to be paramount.
As viewing habits change, so should the way consumers pay for content
While content viewing is changing, we haven’t updated the way consumers pay for it. Shouldn’t consumers define their subscription models (ad-supported VOD or subscription VOD), or even currency (bitcoin anybody?), that suits them best instead of straight-jacketing them into pre-defined models?
It seems consumers would be up for it, too. Seven in ten (69%) admit that if there were a subscription service that included all of their desired content, they would switch to that provider. A similar proportion (71%) agree that they would rather have a single, all-inclusive bundle of video that included everything rather than several different subscription services.
So how can pay-TV players do this? By building a partner ecosystem that eliminates friction for consumers and partners alike. This would allow a single relationship while also offering consumers choice and control.
At times, it may feel like we’re running to stand still as U2 memorably phrased it in their Joshua Tree masterpiece album, and offerings look primarily the same. But, as I outlined above, there is much to be done to drive OTT forward into a new and exciting future.
About the author: Raman Abrol is General Manager, Amdocs Media Portfolio and Emerging Markets