18 months in, I am still a relative newcomer to this industry. And I continue to find the term OTT puzzling. Over-The-Top of what exactly…? When we refer to OTT in its many guises are we not in fact simply talking about a direct, self-curated viewing experience. A viewing experience designed and built by the individual to provide a wholesale alternative or linked supplement to linear. A viewing experience that by its very nature creates a heightened expectation of ease of access, quality and availability, regardless of location, device type and content selection due to the audience need to self create.
The traditional breakdown of OTT – SVOD, AVOD and TVOD may still hold true, however so expansive has the reach of OTT become that to compartmentalise it to an overarching VOD bucket is unhelpful, given that live is and always has been such an audience driver. With live now being carried increasingly on OTT platforms, the notion of a direct serving bridge between viewer and provider seems a more suitable description. Is this not why broadcasters, sports franchises and content creators have invested so much in player technology….to build that direct bridge between viewer and creator? To enable the informed viewer to forge that direct connection and immerse themselves in content that is 100% aligned to their viewing need as and when they require it…? Over-The-Top or otherwise, this is a story of alignment between the content owner and the viewer.
By talking about alignment and empowerment, we are talking about the content owner opening up to the viewer. Giving access to material previously aired or archived or even material created to supplement and enhance the immersive experience of a primary content piece. Because of this, the viewing experience has to be flawless. Yet with such a vast amount of content available and such a variety of audience interests, the risk of service failure is heightened. Why? Because a reliance on a traditional CDN is likely to mean pressures on video head ends as less popular and more niche items are drawn down from higher up in the delivery chain.
To overcome this, content creators, owners and distributors must consider the building of thin, scalable and cost effective video origins – Platforms that can efficiently manage expensive processing functions otherwise offloaded to third parties while also providing the means to deliver content directly from Origin to viewer in instances of niche/specialist content – Bypassing the CDN altogether.
And while the CDN won’t disappear completely, the presence of a local Origin will ensure that any cache misses are managed quickly and efficiently so as to reduce service failures and audience dissatisfaction.
I would like to thank everyone who attended the OTT TV World Summit earlier this month and stayed for my keynote on the local origin topic.
Director, New Business Development
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