What technology, technique or approach will have a big impact on the OTT economy in the next year or so? That is the question I pitched to a panel of experts at the TV of Tomorrow show in New York last week. The six panelists had six very different views on what would make the biggest impact.
A single, trackable URL for content
We are making progress in coming up with a single identifier for media with technologies like EIDR. However, it remains very difficult to centralize all the usage and tracking data about a piece of media across all the devices and service it might appear. Josh Arensberg, VP of Corporate Development and Strategy, Comcast Technology Solutions, believes the solution is technology as old as the worldwide web itself:
“A single URL pointing to where you’ve got your content and allowing that to play on any device quickly. It is critical to the OTT space. A URL is the key to allowing you to get your analytics, have a great experience, and track what the experience is.”
As Mr. Arensberg points out, once all that data is associated directly with the content it becomes much easier to improve the experience the consumer receives.
Opening the door to 10,000 channels
For Kathleen Barrett, GM of OTT, Vimeo, one of the interesting opportunities enabled by OTT delivery is the ability to break out of the traditional television mold:
“End-to-end offering lowering the barriers to entry on the technology front. And formats like live lowering the barriers to entry on the content front. This will allow the emergence of 10,000 niche channels, instead of everybody just subscribing to HBO and Netflix.”
Ms. Barrett sees the opportunity opening up over the next couple of years.
The launch of Facebook Watch was a major event for the social media giant earlier this year. It is a major statement by the company that video is its future. However, things have quieted down since then. Dan Finch, Chief Commercial Officer, Simplestream, does not think things will stay quiet for Watch:
“One thing to watch that we’re involved with – and that we think will be a game changer next year – is Facebook Watch. The metadata and targeted advertising abilities they have are far superior to people like GroupM.”
Earlier this year Matthew Corbin commented that Facebook was unique because it could target real people, not just demographic groups. Mr. Finch agrees this will be a major differentiator.
Maintaining the security of premium content
The SVP and GM of BAMTECH Media Barry Tishgart’s answer to my question about what technology will be significant in the next year or two was very simple:
“Security, both in the sense of digital rights management and real-time content security ensuring that content owners and broadcasters feel confident about distributing to multiple outlets.”
The increasing demand for more content in higher resolutions – such as UltraHD and high dynamic range – has many content providers concerned about how secure their content is on online. With pressure mounting for online movie releases in premium windows, Mr. Tishgart is sure to hear more providers voice this concern.
Improving the video experience with AI
Ari Evans, CEO, Maestro, sees the lack of metadata about video assets as a major block in improving the experience. He believes AI could be a way to improve the situation:
“Machine learning and AI and the fact that it is available in the cloud. You don’t have to hire a bunch of PhDs to build machine learning into your platform. You can just plug into it as a service. In our world, we are trying to own the engagement graph; the meta-layer of content and experience that’s living on top of the video itself. Instead of needing a human to be the maestro, we can probably drive engagement more effectively using an AI.”
Securing the revenue stream for AVOD
52% of people that consider pre-roll ads intrusive have installed a mobile ad-blocker to get rid of them. This behavior is very damaging to the emerging advertising supported VOD (AVOD) market. According to Hardys Eggum, IT and Technical Operations at Synacore, service providers now have a solution to the ad-blocker problem:
“Service-side ad insertion. Ad-blockers are killing the monetization of AVOD services and we can’t find a sweet spot to prevent them with all the devices using client-side ad insertion. Server-side ad-insertion is where it’s going.”
Ad-blockers work by intercepting – or blocking – the call by the client device to get the ad. If the streaming server inserts ads, there is no ad call for the ad-blocker to block.