Picture a house. Now picture it on fire, with people trapped inside it. A happy image, I know, but we need some danger in order to create prioritisation. What’s the thing you save above everything else? I’m willing to bet, unless you’re a special kind of sociopath, that it’s the people. They are the ultimately irreplaceable ‘thing’ (for purposes of this exercise) that everyone would focus on saving. The house can burn to the ground, but keeping the people alive and safe is paramount.
Think more on the burning house. Let’s say it’s your burning house. The people are safe, and the fire service have told you they might be able to save some of the things inside. What do you tell them to rescue from the flames? I imagine you’ll be telling them to save heirlooms, special mementos or bits of furniture that matter to you.
Now, finally, the fire has burned out and this extended metaphor can come to an end. Look at the house. At any point, were you concerned about the actual structure of the building? Did you ever worry if the bricks would make it or if the windows would survive third degree burns? Unless they’re very special windows or bricks, I’m willing to bet you didn’t.
Focus on your Audience
An OTT service should be addressed in exactly the same way as that burning house. The priorities should be exactly the same – people/audience first, they are the most valuable thing. Next up, content, hugely important in the way it makes the house/service unique to you. Finally, the least most important thing; the structure/technology.
OTT services are complex things to build and operate. There is a litany of interdependencies between services, a seemingly never ending list of system management challenges, as well as a ton of simple basics that need to be maintained and improved over time in order to remain competitive (from front end items like HD/4K picture quality, recommendations or metadata management to back end things such as payment and billing, ad integration DRM or encoding).
But these are not the things that make or break a service. They are needed, but they are not as important when it comes to attracting viewers – what they care about is the quality of experience and the content.
It is the content and audience the things that an OTT service provider should be focusing on, because who would know their audience and their tastes better than them? The minutiae of whether or not different technology vendors are integrated and behaving properly is a distraction from them being able to focus on where their expertise lies. At the moment though, the industry generally works with multiple vendors needing to be integrated in order to deliver the kinds of front and back end features needed. This is a problem.
Naturally, the OTT service provider needs to concern themselves with this, as it’s a headache that is going to affect the quality of their service. But their attention should be focused on the audience and the content, both of which are far more important and valuable than the technology, which is simply a vehicle that gets content to the audience in the fashion that they require (I know hugely I’m simplifying the equation here, but in the eyes of the end user, that’s all it’s useful for). Think of Apple – their brilliance is focussed on creating brilliant pieces of software and hardware, but they leave the manufacturing entirely to someone like FoxConn. It simply isn’t a part of the process that they should be concerning themselves with, and they don’t – they let someone that’s focussed entirely on that aspect handle it.
One Solution Provider or Many?
For years, Piksel’s pedigree was in systems integration and large scale, bespoke solutions. We were exactly as described above – a cog in a larger machine that also managed the integration of many other cogs. We have seen, and have the many scars to prove, how difficult it can be to operate an OTT platform that is stitched together from many different providers.
As a result, we believe that an end to end solution, or as we’ve come to call it ‘OTT in a box’ is the smartest way to go, eliminating the need to become deeply involved in the technology side of things. Think of it like a Huf Haus (the flat packed houses) - everything you need for an OTT service should be available straight out of the box, covering both the back and front.
There’s no need for the service provider to have to figure out how to become an architect or a systems integrator in building of their OTT house. End to end solutions take care of the technology, from start to finish, so they can focus on what matters to the success of their service, that which makes a house a home - the content and the audience.
Want to learn more at NAB or TV Connect?
Miles Weaver is Director of Product Marketing at Piksel. Miles is an avid commentator on the digital TV revolution speaking regularly at industry events and being published in The Guardian and Read/Write. Connect with him at @MrMilesWeaver
IMAGE CREDIT: Unsplash / Christian Allard