Is it over the top to think that OTT has forever changed our viewing habits?
A recent office conversation between our Millennials and the Gen X‘ers threw into sharp focus just how much OTT video has changed the way each generation engages with television and what ‘watching TV’ now means.
Not so long ago the TV held little choice for the viewer. It was about clicking up and down the four terrestrial channels, deciding the best worst option to watch, knowing exactly when your favourite programmes were on and fearing missing a crucial episode of Grange Hill. To watch TV was to be delivered content wholly curated by the broadcasters at the time of their choosing. And whilst the UK Saturday evening prime-time battle can still conjure up Strictly vs X-Factor headlines, in reality we are now picking and choosing when, where and what we want to watch and, increasingly, from whom.
The behemoth terrestrial providers are being challenged to retain their audience share from the big OTT players – the like of Netflix and Hulu – in an industry set to surge to $120 billion by 2020, up from $64 billion last year. As they invest in their huge libraries of content it means choice, choice and more choice for the consumer, box-set binges and even paralysis by not being able to decide what to start watching.
Within this new battle for ‘eyes on’ there are increasing opportunities for newer and more niche broadcasters to enter the market, challenging the dedicated cable channels that once disrupted the terrestrial giants. If these new content creators can bypass the gatekeepers that controlled the schedule then they have exciting opportunities to directly reach an increasing global audience.
Once a fairly jittery and frequently frustrating experience, the quality of OTT viewing has improved dramatically. As the industry continues to mature, high performance network solutions should ensure consumers enjoy an ever richer experience. So if niche broadcasters can provide enough engaging content to keep up with consumer demand, have it delivered with fewer bandwidth constraints ,and combine this with an interactive online experience, there are great rewards – a committed and responsive audience who would be willing to pay to view, be it subscription, PPV or through advertising.
Live OTT events are expected to deliver the fastest growing revenue, according to Level 3 Communications recent Streaming Media Report, and are set to outpace the sectors VOD. Look to sports as an example – something that One Big Circle has seen close up through developing My Action Replay – where clubs of all sizes can now stream to their dedicated fans and followers, engaging them directly for key events.
Tournaments, and even World Cups, of any and all sports – from Indoor Cricket to Quidditch to Roller Derby – can now be watched globally almost regardless of where they are being held. For the organise
rs, the numbers become hugely exciting and revenue generating, especially if they can get their social marketing right, push replays to their social media and deliver second screen and interactive community experiences to the growing fanbase. As early movers in this market, My Action Replay was used to stream the 2016 Masters Indoor Cricket World Cup from Birmingham to a global audience delivering over 100 hours of indexed, searchable game footage direct to the supporters at home.
With an abundance of measurements available to aid content discovery, metadata can deliver an ever more personalised experience to these new audiences, refining and directing OTT viewing from an increasing pool of creators. You can settle back and view just the sports, the dramas, the channels that suit you best and leave the rest aside. If the migration to OTT persists at this rate it could see the end of the terrestrial TV as consumers cut the cables in favour of the digital experience. And it is ironic that thanks to their AI curated preferences being delivered direct to devices, the next generation may be back to making fewer choices again in their viewing habits.