OTT is here. What’s next in video?

As a professional executive who has worked in the OTT environment since it started back in 2008, I have seen OTT providers across the globe go to market with different strategies and ambitions, usually to be “the next Netflix” in town.

I have worked in several companies in the space, from providers of Online Video Platforms to design companies, from global system integrators to media companies.  In my experience in dealing with tier one brands in the OTT ecosystem, brands like Telefonica, Fox, RTL, Antena 3, Swisscom, among others, I’ve witnessed the same kind of discussions and challenges that have been recurrent in the market in general: content is king, multi-device experience, the importance of the UI and the UX, how to create innovative features, how to recommend and discover content, etc.

The ecosystem began to grow, and the space became crowded with companies providing all the services that the big brands were demanding in order to differentiate themselves from the rest. Apart from the content itself, what has mattered in the market has been the devices, the user experience, and the business models (ad-based, subscription or transactional). Basically, anything related to these three main areas has been of paramount importance to OTT players.

Now, after two to three years when just about everyone in the space has created their own OTT brand for which, in all likelihood, they have properly assessed their device strategy, the optimal user experience, and the most appropriate marketing model for their brand, the next key questions are:

  • Now What?
  • How can I maintain my differentiation?
  • How can I gain more customers?
  • How can I predict churn?
  • How can I enter new markets?
  • How can I control, for instance, the cannibalization of my IPTV or Satellite service?
  • What will be the next new, cool device or feature?

These questions and many others come to the mind of brand managers as they aspire to successfully bring their services to the next level. Over the years, I’ve been involved in multiple discussions lending my point of view, having had the benefit of expertise –  seeing similar cases, in similar situations fail in other markets – and despite my advice about  how a concrete decision might not be the right move, customers have moved forward anyway driven exclusively by their “gut feeling” or “intuition”.

This is one of the biggest mistakes in our industry. In the early days of OTT, most decisions were based on intuition.  Questions like: Will people watch content on an iPhone? Will the iPad be used to watch TV? Will people pay for content through a smart TV? And so on.  Back then, these questions had no answers, nor was there any preceding experience on which to base extrapolated, best-guesses.  On the whole, intuition was the only tool first movers could use to innovate and discover.

Now we are in the time of Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, and the tools that used to be only for the “big boys in town” –  tools that were really expensive and assumed to be appropriate only for huge companies with tons of data – are now available to just about any company in the world thanks to the cloud and the dramatic drop in the cost of computer processing.

Now we can analyze everything that is happening, everyone is connected to the internet in the OTT space. Someone watching a video service leaves traces of his or her user behavior and data every second. All this information can be tracked in order to know our users better than even they know themselves (because let’s face it, most of the time we act subconsciously). We can measure, analyze, see patterns, and then react and provide a better service not only to that concrete user, but also to all the users that behave in a similar way.  This knowledge and ability to act to improve our service will also help attract new users with similar profiles.

It is no longer the time for “gut feelings” or intuition. I estimate that 95% of our daily business decisions can be more accurate if we examine our available data.  It is the time for testing our customers’ behavior, analyzing the data we collect on a daily basis, and creating valuable KPIs that will indicate how our service is performing and what we need to do to improve it to meet our goals as our brand evolves for the new era.

When I started to take a deeper look at the analytical and predictive tools that were available in the market, I saw a new path for my career. I anticipated that I would be able to have discussions with clients based on empirical results that would easily convince even the toughest of customers that the right decision is not a matter of intuition, rather the right decision will result from using the right analytical tools supported with concrete data.

I want to keep helping OTT brands as their services evolve to stay in step with the next generation of TV. It’s difficult to imagine the television of the future, but let’s try! Imagine that when a device is turned on, it will recognize who is watching (you, your children, or other family members); it will select appropriate content and play it directly; it will allow interaction with your friends; for live programs, it will select the best camera angles; in the near future, there will be immersive experiences, augmented reality, and many more cool features.

By this point, you should all understand why I decided to quit a comfortable and stable job at Nokia in order to found a new company, JUMP TV, with my two partners and two business angel investors. We have already started helping brands build the new future with a next-generation data driven platform for OTT.  By helping your brand better understand and predict user behavior and make informed decisions, we will help you to succeed in this tough market in which, as always, only a few will succeed.

Let’s make it happen together, friends!