Business Development Director, iWedia
The world of OTT has seen a rapid evolution in the past years, and the Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated this growth as access to news and content became the unconditional form of entertainment to many households during the most severe of lockdown restrictions. There is a clear evolution towards a free, ad-supported TV service, and as the world begins to turn the page towards a new normality for 2022, operators face a number of challenges to engage and retain their customers in a crowded market.
The vast complexity of systems needed to deliver a quality OTT service should not be underestimated, so operators should look for companies, like iWedia, one of the leading providers of software components and solutions for TV devices, offering global expertise that can help demystify and simplify the process.
According to iWedia, a key area that TV operators must address is the added value they bring to customers. With the increasing influence of streaming platforms such as Netflix or Amazon, operators have increasingly become a ‘shop window’ for many streaming platforms, and the challenge at stake is that they must succeed on their added value and relevance to their customers’ needs; it is all about the quality of the user experience (UX). Customers do not want to be swapping platforms to search for content, and there is an increasing demand for fast and simple content aggregation from all platforms. The value for operators here is to enable customers to search across multiple platforms in one ‘click’ to find that film or TV show.
Along similar lines, operators should also make sure they are providing a comfortable, painless user experience to their customers. A well-designed interface with easy commands and simple to use search functions will reward operators with engaged and loyal customers. With the growth in the market for voice assistants, it would also be valuable for the operator who pushes its own device in the household to provide a reliable and resilient voice command solution.
Technologies are available today to develop smart a User Interface (UI) which will adapt over time to the user’s profile and behaviour. Users will not realise that they are having a good experience, but they certainly know – and act accordingly - when it’s a bad experience.
An efficient recommendation engine is also a very valuable service. Obviously, some very good progress has been made in this field in the past years and as the data grows, the recommendation engine improves over time. Despite this, users will still get random and possibly strange "recommendations" made by streaming services! Operators need to use content metadata, even live content and customer profile data, and use technologies such as artificial intelligence to determine viewing preferences in order to provide more accurate recommendations, which are welcomed by customers.
Another big challenge for operators is how to enable new revenue streams and diversify these. The major trend in this aspect is turning to targeted ad insertion. Originating in digital advertising, this new technology directly solves the problem of diversified income sources and creates new revenue streams for many operators. Although it is undoubtedly a highly complex technical task, it is an excellent opportunity for operators to differentiate themselves from international streaming platforms and create new lucrative sources of revenue. Likewise, user experience will be the key to making it a reliable value. iWedia’s cloud-based Ad Insertion Platform vastly simplifies the process; with the choice of client-side ad insertion (CSAI) or server side ad insertion (SSAI), the solution seamlessly replaces ads in live, catch-up and archived linear TV broadcasts, using individual targeting profiles and WEB-advertising technologies including real time bidding and return-path data. iWedia acts as an integrator at every level of the project implementation, speeding up time to market and lowering the cost of entry.
Free, ad-supported TV services is a growing trend that will be able to push more content to end users. It presents a great opportunity for platforms which will be able to become more relevant with these new models and services. Naturally, these UX elements and value-added services require significant technical integration at the back-end, and iWedia is looking forward to seeing how this exciting trend grows in the coming months and years.