What is OTT?
Over the last decade, the media industry has seen a gradual shift towards streaming, also known as OTT or “over-the-top” in full. Content providers with OTT media services deliver content via a high-speed Internet connection rather than a cable or satellite provider. The term “OTT” is commonly applied to video-on-demand platforms, but can also refer to other internet-based media solutions such as audio, messaging and voice calling.
Why use OTT?
With 62% of adults in the US alone currently subscribed to a streaming service, it is clear that consumers love OTT content. For starters, OTT services offer high-value content at low cost. In Singapore, a basic cable TV monthly subscription plan with only a handful of channels costs about $25 SGD, while a premium Netflix monthly subscription plan with unlimited movies and television shows costs about $20 SGD. Recently, OTT providers like Amazon Prime have begun producing original content that is available exclusively through their platforms, and services like Disney+ have exclusive streaming licenses for past televised content. Before OTT, watching cable TV required a television set. Now, OTT content can be watched from a broad range of devices like smartphones, smart TVs, tablets and even gaming consoles.
What types of content do OTT solutions support?
OTT covers a broad range of web-based content. Making it to the top of the list is video streaming, which can be delivered either on-demand or live. Popular platforms include subscription-based ones like Netflix, paid storefronts like iTunes, and advertisement-based ones like YouTube. Audio streaming is also possible through OTT solutions, with popular platforms like Spotify for music and podcasts, and Pandora for internet radio. OTT-based instant messaging services like Whatsapp connect users directly through internet connections, bypassing mobile SMS networks. Most of them can replace or integrate with text messaging in a smartphone. Popular voice calling platforms like Skype operate using internet protocols, and are considered as OTT services. Some of them can integrate with mobile phone networks and enhance certain features.
Is OTT replacing traditional media?
Most OTT services are practising “cord cutting”, which means cancelling TV or phone subscriptions to focus on web-based alternatives. Whie more consumers have adopted
OTT, cord cutting doesn’t mean that traditional networks will disappear entirely. Customers may maintain traditional cable services alongside streaming subscriptions. Moreover, OTT services are still fairly new, and could undergo significant restructuring while continuously refining their best practices in the years to come. For example, some experts believe that OTT platforms could one day be bundled much like traditional cable packages. In fact, some cable TV companies do offer OTT solutions like Disney+ as part of their premium subscription plans.
What challenges do OTT solutions face?
Just like any other innovation, many challenges lie ahead for media solutions utiliing OTT technology. A major one is perhaps the increased competition for video OTT solutions in the years ahead as more consumers subscribe to video streaming services. A recent survey by Deloitte suggests that nearly 50% of OTT customers in the US are experiencing “subscription fatigue” from engaging with so many platforms. This could cause customers to be more selective with their streaming subscriptions. Moreover, the growth of large-scale platforms like NBC Universal could impact the prospects for smaller, niche services like Viki due to its reputation and variety of video streaming offerings.
What opportunities are there for OTT?
Despite these challenges, OTT has immense potential to expand further. Aside from high global adoption rates for video streaming services, there are major opportunities in non-entertainment industries like education and fitness. A recent survey by Uscreen revealed that 50% of its OTT subscribers pay for educational content, and 33% of them for fitness content. Streaming services with educational learning or health-related content tend to hold the most potential. OTT platforms might also want to consider the benefits of incorporating tiered pricing models into its monetization strategies. Many of the OTT solutions are subscription-based, but Uscreen’s survey found that in-app purchases increased the platform’s subscribers by 20%. This made a wide net for monetization methods that could help OTT grow in the future.
Right now, OTT streaming is changing the media landscape all over the world and it’s time to accept it. Anything can happen with streaming services down the road, but OTT will undoubtedly continue to grow, improve and flourish side by side with its traditional counterparts.