The argument for OTT has long been won. The growing popularity of Video On Demand and subscription TV has persuaded many media companies to go DTC (direct to consumer) – with research suggesting that all major networks are building and will have introduced OTT-powered services by 2022. Some are already live. However, with those that are, some find themselves on the cusp of providing a high-class experience, but the piecemeal way their platforms have been constructed makes it difficult to push on to the next level.
So what can be done? How can you move from the edge of glory to the promised land of Platform 2.0? It’s time to take a deep breath, think differently and rebuild from scratch. Sure, that’s a bold and radical approach, but it doesn’t need to be scary. With a clear strategy, expert advice and a structured roadmap, building from the ground up is feasible and will lay the foundations for future growth. Every business is different and a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t exist. However, there are five basic steps to building an OTT platform that delivers a great user experience.
Look under the hood:
Start by auditing your existing architecture to identify current problems and how they might impact the vision for your brand. Too often, companies focus on features and benefits and forget the customer at the other end. The key to an effective audit is to take your ‘product hat’ off, log in and start exploring what’s under the hood. Companies rely heavily on tools, SDKs, libraries and vendors to monitor individual parts of the chain, but few ever pull all that data together to understand what it means. You need to know your customer’s world. So lift the lid and find out what happens when you click that icon.
Develop a strategy – and own it:
The trend for outsourcing every component to third party vendors is well established – but the cracks are beginning to appear. Develop a strategy that builds on the learnings from your architectural audit. Create a roadmap that prioritises the functionality that’s most important. Once you’ve decided on the key areas of focus, identify which components can be offloaded to third parties and those where you need to exert greater control. Take ownership and responsibility for the critical components – and put plans in place to monitor and manage performance.
Invest in the right skills:
Before building starts ensuring your teams have the requisite skills is likely to require investment in engineering capabilities. Leaders understood early that to deliver a first-class service, they needed to invest properly in software engineers. The rules haven’t changed. Deep technical knowledge is a prerequisite of DTC success.
Building the optimal OTT experience requires genuine investment. Disney has invested astronomically in its new streaming service, whereas other new entrants are trying to get by on tiny budgets. Success is about investing in the appropriate resources, rather than fiddling around at the edges. This doesn’t mean breaking the bank – it means developing a proper plan that identifies Critical Success Factors (CSFs) and focusing resources accordingly. It’s the antithesis of the piecemeal approach.
Companies are acknowledging that their OTT infrastructure has reached the limit of what it can do, so now a radical rethink is required. Companies that take the bold decision to rebuild from the ground up will lay the foundations for long-term success. With a good agnostic partner to help you design the right architecture and roadmap, the next level of OTT delivery might just be within reach.