Over The Top (OTT) streaming video has been a presence in our media consumption environment for a long time, as consumers “cut the cable” and move into a more on-demand model of media consumption. People are busier than ever, and they’re happy to watch the entertainment they want on handheld screens as long as the viewing conforms to their schedules.
In short, media companies can now sell their products directly to consumers with services like Apple TV that bypass Multiple System Operators (MSOs) and allow customers to buy individual shows, seasons, or series and watch them on their own time. Within the next 5 years, OTT is projected to eclipse traditional broadcasting channels as the favored way for audiences to consume media.
A Drastic Shift In Media Consumption
Consumers are looking for flexibility when it comes to spending time with their favorite movies, music, TV shows and movies. Not only does OTT entertainment allow a new level of flexible entertainment for users, but it’s also an effective way to save money by cutting their cable bill and paying only for internet service.
Even those companies successfully maintaining their grip on traditional media channels (such as HBO and Showtime) have either released their own OTT-suited content or even rolled out their own streaming services. It’s no longer a question of if OTT will take over the traditional media channel market, but when.
The Picture Quality Challenge
Cameras and screens are evolving almost beyond our ability to maintain enough bandwidth to carry a 4k or even 8k streaming feed. It is speculated that the 2020 Olympic Games could very well be broadcast in 8k resolution, bringing up innumerable questions about how best to deliver that much bandwidth. However, as bandwidth capabilities increase, so will increasingly high-definition entertainment across a variety of fixed and mobile devices.
Given the future of extremely high-definition broadcasting – especially in sports – media companies need to be taking a serious look at how to address network connection issues. Even within big cities and reliable networks, slowdowns and traffic bottlenecks can still cause picture resolution issues. Delivering smooth, extra-sharp picture definition and sound will ultimately be dependent on these less sexy issues of network connections and codecs.
Winning The OTT Game
As the market evolves, the winners will be those currently focused on delivering a more reliable, high-definition picture. Given the shortening attention span of your average digital entertainment consumer, anyone can switch to a competitor’s website in an instant if either the playback or the interface is frustrating to use. If they’re already tired of the inflexibility of cable, they’ll be even less tolerant of an OTT provider that delivers anything short of consistent, reliable streaming with crystal-clear resolution.
Preparing For OTT In Live Production
One of the most perplexing questions the emergence of OTT entertainment poses to media companies pertains to how live events and broadcasting will evolve along with OTT entertainment options. Sports will lead the way in the new world of HD streaming, as fans demand greater picture resolution and an experience so immersive it rivals being at the stadium — while also demanding to be freed from their television and cable subscriptions.
Live production is about become that much more important, and not just for the AV rehearsals and cutaway shots. Live broadcasts will now demand a new level of packaging, production, and streaming capabilities like never before. When you’re looking to a live event production company to deliver the perfect vision now and into the future, you should be seeking out the help of those companies that are preparing for and adapting to the OTT content channels as new technology enters the market.
Put simply, consumers are overwhelmingly choosing OTT as their preferred method for accessing the media they love. While that may be intimidating for traditional MSOs, it can be a tremendous opportunity to get eyes on your event or message that it might not have attracted before. OTT media opens up a new world of curious watchers, late-night bingers, and everyone in between. Clicking through the channels has been replaced with watching the entertainment you want, whenever you have a free minute and a screen handy.
Live broadcasting is moving away from cable and satellite and toward the OTT universe, and those who position themselves intelligently to ride this disruption are doing so by way of reliable service and picture that stays clear and playing even when your connection slows.
This article was first published on HB Communications.
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