Is OTT better than broadcast? The experts decide

Ahead of next month’s Streaming Forum (26 February, ExCeL London), we asked a team of streaming experts – all of them speakers at Streaming Forum – what they  believe OTT needs to do in order to compete with broadcast. Here’s what they said:

Florian Diederichsen, DAZN Group – OTT has revolutionised the way we watch TV and video. It has freed us forever from rigid schedules so we never need to miss anything again. In developed markets, it’s already outperforming traditional broadcast, especially with scripted and entertainment streaming services.

  However, OTT has to reach the reliability of classic television. While it’s great to watch content anywhere, on any device, the infrastructure to do that for millions of people in parallel everywhere is not quite there yet. This can impact sport streaming which is more complex, due to the concurrency of live events, and the huge audiences that come in to watch seconds before they start. As technologies like superfast broadband and 5G proliferate around the world, OTT will overtake broadcast TV as a better, more personalised, intuitive and frictionless way to watch on every screen. Florian gives Streaming Forum’s Keynote: Changing the way the world sees sport.

Jeff Webb, Sky UK – OTT is the sum of many parts and offers interactivity to encourage customer engagement. Moving forward, we need to reduce the delay and continually improve availability so that we blur the lines between broadcast and streaming. Jeff’s taking part in two expert debates at Streaming Forum – OTT: better than broadcast and OTT moves towards microservices.

Mark de Jong, Deutsche Telekom – OTT as we know it is still based on a ‘best-effort’ internet, depending on the ISPs to deliver. Although the industry has found ways to cope with the ‘best effort’, the only way to make it really of broadcast quality is to engage with ISPs and find business models and ways to be able to offer unlimited scale and guaranteed quality with business models that work. Mark explores The relevance of telcos in the video distribution landscape at Streaming Forum.

Stephen Johnson, Coach Media – Competition is a bit of a misnomer: OTT needs to distinguish itself from broadcast, not be compared to it. To achieve this it needs to press its greatest advantages — flexibility, ubiquity, fitting with a digital consumer’s lifestyle — into realisable products and services that at least meet (and ideally exceed) standards set by broadcast for content accessibility and quality. OTT also should focus on co-opting broadcast’s last two arguable assets: live events (e.g., sports) and resolution (e.g., 8K, etc.); once OTT overcomes any advantages is these areas broadcast will have very little left to offer. Stephen debates whether ATSC 3.0 is a toolkit for OTT video engagement.

Erica Beavers, Streamroot – OTT’s biggest shortcoming continues to be quality. Offering high-quality video at scale requires innovation in content delivery towards more reliable, efficient infrastructures. This means adapting delivery to every device, every network and every use case. Erica explains ABRs – adaptive bitrate algorithmsat Streaming Forum.

Ian Nock, Interoperability Working Group – Ultra HD Forum – OTT needs to remove the shackles of its birth and understand that it is a TV service and not just a delivery medium but to do that companies need to think full service replacement for their customers (Live, Linear, On Demand, Catchup, (n)PVR, Broadcast, Search, Recommendations and Aggregation) on top of its natural advantages of mult-device TV Anywhere and without being tied to specific network. Ian’s looking at the future for UHD and HDR at Streaming Forum

Susanne Guth-Orlowski, castLabs – OTT is better than broadcast if 1. there is almost zero latency between the broadcast and OTT signals and 2. the signal is as reliable as via satellite. My Streaming Forum presentation will clarify the latency topic: we are down to < 1 second latency, which is already competitive. The reliability is a network topic which the industry can only hardly influence… but the customer can. Susanne discusses how to manage the delivery of low-latency live experiences at Streaming Forum.

Valentijn Siebrands, M2A Media – To improve the OTT experience there are two separate domains: For live streaming and events, latency and slow startup are the most important aspects to improve and are directly related to the video technologies employed. Alongside these are the signup procedures. In particular, with popular and one-off events, viewers can become extremely frustrated when signup or forgotten password procedures delay access. If services improve here OTT services are more on par in terms of access and ease of use. Valentijn takes part in our expert panel debate: OTT – better than broadcast?

Anastasia Raspopina, CDNvideoIn terms of buyer journey/UX, OTT isn’t something like broadcast TV – first you need to find it on your device, second you need to pay for it (if we speak about the pay per view model). Making content easy to consume is key, adoption rates increase when the viewers get what they want fast. No one would fancy spending 30 minutes to find a 1.5-hour movie. Stacy looks at inserting ads where they fit best in Streaming Forum’s Power of associative monetisation.