Today, the on-demand economy is tipped to reach $57 billion in 2018, and it looks like the future is OTT. Five years ago, mobile, personalised, interactive video content would have probably been dismissed as OTT, but it’s taking on a new meaning that is redefining TV.

Many networks and operators see OTT as the golden ticket to competitive advantage. But they are facing a challenge. Where previously they may have outsourced delivery, many are now looking to establish their own infrastructure having struggled with the lack of flexibility and velocity on third-party roadmaps. They are evaluating whether to ‘buy or build’, and the DIY option often wins, but it’s not as easy as you may think if you’ve not got the right team behind you.

Times are changing

The move to OTT is inevitable. In the UK, the growth of video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon is forcing the hand of established broadcasters. In the next 12 months, Sky plans a roll-out of IPTV that will move its services ‘beyond the dish’. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have been slowly going OTT for quite some time and have recently announced plans to collaborate further. At the same time, on the global stage, media companies like Disney and Discovery are looking to cut out the middle-man and go direct-to-consumer with their own digital streaming services. A 2018 report by the Diffusion Group predicts that all major TV networks will offer DTC streaming services by 2022.

The question is, how can service providers make the move to OTT and bring together the right skill sets that will help to create a seamless OTT experience for everyone?

Universally challenged

Building a sustainable platform for OTT services is complex, requiring infrastructure, architecture and knowhow that’s unfamiliar to most traditional operators. Making the quantum leap from video to a software-oriented domain demands expertise across all the multiple components of a diverse end-to-end process; from streaming languages, video formats, IP networks and encryption to content delivery platforms, transcoding, digital permissions and device-specific UI. These are specialisms in their own right – and they require specialist skills that, at present, many providers just don’t have in-house.

This complex end-to-end process dictates distinct skill sets that combine video, software design and traditional IT. It’s a skill mix that’s challenging CTOs as they look to establish an efficient and sustainable infrastructure for OTT.

No one is able to embrace all of these attributes at once. This mythical beast doesn’t exist. Identifying individuals that possess the composite capabilities is, at present, unlikely; the skill mix is too broad and deep. Some are upskilling or taking the DIY route.

The most progressive organisations are partnering with media technology experts to create the right roadmap for the journey. The best partners will understand the complexities of building service provider grade video platforms. And they’ll have worldwide experience of working with studios, content providers, broadcasters and licensees to establish sustainable integrated architecture for delivering video OTT.

Getting it right

The DIY approach to building OTT infrastructure is a logical step for the industry. However, organisations that believe they can take their existing set-up and port it to the Cloud will invariably end up making some big mistakes. The software-oriented world is a very different environment to the one in which companies have historically operated.

As the industry awaits the next generation of talent, a willingness to partner with experts that understand how to build successful video services in the Cloud could be the key to unlocking competitive advantage.

The drivers for change are compelling; consumers’ appetite for watching video on demand over digital and mobile devices is both insatiable and unrelenting. It’s no surprise that traditional players are jettisoning long-standing business models and gearing up to join the world of OTT. So if you want to attract audiences, find the right partners and build it properly, you might just hit it out the park.

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