When you bite off more than you can chew: The challenges of OTT TV
The easy availability of content and technology lets us witness OTT TV services mushrooming allover the place. Any telco, any media company and any producer wants his very own OTT TV service these days. Everyone thinks it is an easy undertaking and that one can start such a service with very limited budget, knowledge and planning. The contrary is the case. Even big names seem now to become victim of their own success in OTT TV (see HBO recent streaming issues with “Game of Thrones” ). When you really want to be successful with your OTT TV service, you have to deal with a few challenges. The better you address them, the more likely you will enjoy happy subscribers, business partners and long-lasting success – which ultimately pays in solid revenue and profit.
In order to help you avoid some main mistakes, we list here four key areas that are typically should be looked at in making an OTT TV service a hit.
It should be a no-brainer that a solid technology solution is key in implementing your OTT TV service. However, you will see so many projects that are already making fatal mistakes in this groundwork. They have their own make-shift technology solution because they believe it is cheaper to hire some coders in far away places at low rates. Or they just feel they can do better than the many available solutions off the shelf. But this is wrong. There are very reliable, seasoned and well-advanced technology suppliers in this field available. In terms of technology, cheap solutions are often the more costly ones. You need scalability, reliability and always up-to-date availability of staff, knowledge and service. Reliable broadband network and CDNs are another issue in this context. Hence, we usually recommend to work with experienced suppliers who have done projects on all scales and around the globe. What works in India, might not be the right solution in Canada. A supplier who can provide a type of SaaS solution with 24/7 support and reliability plus access to scale is what you need to look for. This is not very more expensive than you own home-made solution and you can be assured that you always have best technology and service available. Loosing your sleep over technology should be your last problem in an OTT TV project.
Often the companies that launch an OTT TV service are technology-driven companies (e.g. telcos) and do not often deal with content aggregation, curation and adaption. This is a challenge for such players. They often have very unrealistic ideas about the content that is available and what is liked by the audience. You want to be sure you have either internal resources who can assess content professionally or you work with external partners (like us, I like add as a little sales pitch here). We encounter way to often that a potential client consider content as just another software component: they think, we can plug it in and play like a module; that prices and quotes can be given in a matter of second. They lack the understanding that content is regulated by different rights issues, involves often different agents and players and most of all, that it comes at a price. For instance, platforms that think they get away with pirated content are a common problem; other think they can delay license fee payments and at the same time earn money with subscription; and then there are those who are thinking that the content supplier is an investment house and is willing to subsidize the growth of a platform. While many content suppliers are more flexible with their terms these days and actively support the development of OTT TV services, they are also selective in whom they work with. They like reliable partners on eye level and not someone who just abuses their content to grow selling its data plans.
A good customer experience is key. This involves the reliable technology with steady, uninterrupted streaming capabilities and fast, easy access to all menus and features. It involves a good, always available customer support,; flexible pricing plans and most of all, relevant content. More sophisticated systems should have proactive customer support and also well-managed recommendation mechanism. As an OTT TV service you are a content and programme director first and foremost. This should be were you focus on in your customer experience definition. You must have proper talent to manage this and you must be sure you have good relationship with your content partners: they love to get involved in working with you when you show interest in providing an unique, special content experience for your subscribers. Customer experience is also supplier experience in this context.
The most OTT TV projects fail not because they lack technology or content or even subscribers: They fail because their organization is not fit for managing the project. They are usually understaffed in key positions; they have not enough resources in terms of staff, skills and knowledge. This is in most cases combined with limited budgets. We see it it everywhere: clients significantly underestimate the size of the investment that is needed to make an OTT TV service successful. The do not budget enough money for the initial 2-3 years and then cut down on all kinds of areas of the service: the most easiest is often to cut staff or to not even hire enough from start. This will usually show immediate negative impact on customer experience, on getting the technology right and on dealing with key suppliers. Everyone will be frustrated and consequently so will be the subscribers. While technology can run most part of your business it is still a business that does rely on people: it is human beings who create the content, who manage the technology, who provide customer service – and most of all, it is human beings who pay for your service and enjoy it. Think people, before you think anything else!
We hopefully havn’t crushed your enthusiasm yet for launching your own OTT TV service. Fortunately, there are experts who can help you to navigate through these key questions and assist you in making the right choice. We help you to select proper partners and get you great, attractive content: for happy customers. As so often this old saying is more true than ever when it comes to OTT TV: it might be expensive to hire professionals, but it is cheaper in the long-run compared to working with amateurs.
Want to know how we can help you with your OTT TV project? Do contact us to discuss.