The OTT World Summit opened in London this week. The four day conference brings together content producers and distributors from around the world to discuss the future of TV in an on-demand and fully streaming marketplace.
Panel discussions and keynote presentations covered a variety of topics on how both start-ups and established providers should be improving their OTT offerings, but not a single presentation could avoid using the A-word or the N-word. Amazon and Netflix (and Hulu too, to a lesser extent), were consistently brought up as the companies to beat, or to emulate – or to fear. But interestingly, Amazon and Netflix were both absent from the conference.
The difficulty many companies – particularly broadcasters – are now facing is trying to transform their business models into something that Netflix and Amazon are still in the process of inventing. And most delegates would admit it’s hard to innovate when you’re copying someone in the process of innovating.
There seemed to be few doubts among both delegates and speakers that streaming will be the dominant distribution model of the future, but how that will be accomplished and how to best present those services to customers is still being created – and will be for some time to come.
What’s not a subject of debate is the importance of a good relationship – even a collaboration – with the customer. Gene Hoffmann, CEO of Vindicia, said in his presentation, ‘Creating a viable subscription supported business model for OTT’, “You have to set subscriber expectations about how you’ll grow content over time. You’re creating a long-term relationship.”
He went on to say: “I believe not enough people are thinking enough about the user experience – not just the interface, but the whole experience.”
Hoffmann pointed to content providers deliberately making it difficult for customers to unsubscribe as just one way those customer relationships are damaged. “One of the big mistakes subscription services make is – out of fear – making it difficult to cancel. Instead, let them opt out. But then ask them why, then address that problem so that they have a reason to come back. If you make it difficult for a subscriber to leave, you’ve raised the stakes for them for resubscribing.”
He also warned against the dangers of guarding content too jealously: “The moment you say ‘This content is not going to be available’, you’re saying ‘We’re fine that it’s going to be pirated.'”
Simon Trudelle, Nagra’s product marketing specialist, connected entertainment & cloud solutions, talked about how Pay TV companies can overcome challenges and reach multiple screens, in “Monetizing OTT TV”.
“Operators are using OTT as a weapon to fight off the competition to delivery a better experience for their subscribers”. Trudelle cited 4K as one of those weapons service providers can use. “4K is a new opportunity for pay TV to compete. There is value there that can be leveraged.”
In a panel discussion, “Assessing the evolution of Pay TV OTT”, Jonathan Guthrie of Paywizard, echoed Gene Hoffman’s earlier sentiments on putting the customer experience first. “Make that initial subscription as easy as possible. Don’t give your customer twenty fields to fill in. You can collect more of that personal data from them later”
David Leporini of Viaccess-Orca talked about the power of analytics in “Understanding the mobile consumer”. He noted that Netflix and Amazon work very hard to reinforce patterns of behavior, getting users to develop habits. One speaker noted that almost half a billion dollars are spent by Netflix on R&D alone.
“Netflix tries to get you to automatically switch on and launch Netflix. How are you creating habits to get people to use your service?”