Satellite Executive Briefing | January-February 2017 | How Satellite Wins in an OTT World | p. 21 | By Roger Franklin, CEO of Crystal
Over-the-top channels and services are becoming mainstream, offering consumers everything from niche, specialized services to mainstream channels. For consumers, this means a wealth of choice, and, with low subscription rates, many are even signing up to multiple OTT services. For broadcasters, OTT represents a massive opportunity to deliver content in a different, and much more personalized and engaging way. And because consumers are signing up to multiple services, there is plenty of space for multiple providers.
While it is true that the satellite industry is having to adapt its own business models to remain relevant and compete in this ever-changing landscape, the benefits for satellite providers of launching OTT services are huge.
The Value of Satellite
The value of satellite in the distribution chain is undeniable, when you realize that much of the world’s video already flows through its networks. There was a time when satellite was the only way of distributing video, therefore satellite operators already understand the demands of video, inside and out.
These days, satellite is of course one of many ways to distribute video, yet it remains one of the most reliable and efficient methods, which allows content providers to maintain their footing while learning how to make the most of these new platforms.
With the consumer appetite for a more personalized TV experience increasing, and the technology available to enable that, broadcasters have a unique opportunity to tailor content in ways that were simply not possible before. However, it does also present challenges, with a vastly different workflow needed.
A Very Different Workflow
The main challenge for satellite broadcasters looking to provide OTT content is that an OTT workflow is vastly different from a traditional satellite workflow. For satellite distribution, a linear TV channel is automatically created from the media content, with appropriate overlay graphics and advertisements inserted in all the right places. This will then be compressed to around 8- 10 MB and sent over satellite, ready for distribution to homes.
This is very different than for OTT, where the continuous TV signal has to be broken up into a set of files that can then be transmitted over the Internet. The main challenge with that is knowing where to draw the line to mark the start and end of a fragment. Unless you tell the device where to start and end, you might have the end of a program and the beginning of an advertisement in the same chunk, which makes changing the ad content much more complex. It can also lead to a disjointed video experience for the consumer.
Another challenge is that sometimes broadcasters may not have the rights to distribute all content globally. This means having to potentially chop parts out for certain versions, replacing it with something else for regional compatibility.
Defining the Boundaries
These challenges can be overcome with good use of metadata, enabling you to define the boundaries of your content to ensure it is split in exactly the right place. Once you have overcome this, it means you can change advertisements depending on region, customer preferences, etc., or you can even swap media content out for other content. Metadata is absolutely crucial to enabling these new revenue models and targeted advertising, but more than that, it can enable it to be done in a highly automated fashion, which is frame accurate, consistent, and reliable. This is an area where my company has been making significant investments over the past two years.
This approach also enables you to add value in other significant ways. For example, it can enable product placement or the re-purposing and reselling of content, such as pulling together highlights from a weekend’s worth of football games. The more broadcasters understand about their consumers, the more that content can be personalized for each individual, based on viewing preferences and shopping habits, for example.
A place for satellite
Satellite remains an important part of the distribution chain in most cases, even for OTT services, particularly because of its reliable nature and ability to connect even the most rural of networks. It will also continue to be the only option in certain areas of the world where connectivity is lacking. More than that, satellite broadcasters have the opportunity to contribute and shape the future of TV, but it means embracing a new approach and coupling that with satellite provision. It is certainly an exciting time for the entire broadcast industry.