A truly immersive, personalised OTT viewing experience relies on the convergence of great content and a whole raft of connected technologies: the right backend, the right UI across all devices, rights management tools, and compelling applications and services. Cloud DVR, which has been mooted for years but is finally taking off, is probably the killer app that really marks the tipping point for OTT.
While early OTT deployments were relatively basic, offering live TV, some VOD content and a few discovery tools if you were lucky, the new generation of Cloud DVR-based OTT platforms are far more sophisticated.
Cloud DVR lets OTT providers offer advanced time-shifted TV, a range of flexible monetisation models and comprehensive mobile device support. And of course it allows consumers to record and store content in the cloud and stream on-demand to a range of devices.
But there are also other applications and services that can be wrapped around Cloud DVR to turbo-charge the OTT viewing experience, provided the right backend platform is in place.
To provide a fully immersive experience, a scalable, open and flexible backend platform is essential. The first generation of OTT platforms were siloed affairs that handled mobile devices, web and connected TVs separately. This made it almost impossible to leverage and personalise the cross-device user experience. With the new generation of backend platforms, which expose all the available services through a set of APIs that connect to the OTT provider’s choice of front end, this is a thing of the past.
Of course some devices are more about browsing, finding content, and interactivity, while others offer a more ‘lean back’ experience, and therefore a scalable backend system that can manage and drive a massive number of concurrent API calls is now a must-have, not an after thought.
With the right backend platform deployed, additional compelling applications and services can be easily added to the core Cloud DVR functionality to further engage viewers, both now and in the future.
Let’s take social TV as an example of a wraparound application that can be used to great effect to improve discovery and further immerse viewers in the OTT experience.
As humans we are programmed to be sociable and to share experiences. Sharing TV experiences is no different, which is why discovery-oriented social TV is so powerful.
Today’s leading OTT platforms can offer consumers the ability to discover things to watch based on what their friends or others with similar profiles are viewing. Adding social feeds to the backend system and pushing relevant, trending/popular social networking activity to the EPG lets consumers find new content based on, for example, Facebook links and twitter hashtags. The system can also track relevant conversations on social networks and let viewers participate in those discussions directly from the EPG, without having to leave the TV service – a great way for OTT providers to prolong engagement.
Crowd-based discovery can be personalised further: for example, viewers can receive a personalised, real-time feed of content that has been liked, watched or rated by friends, assuming the appropriate privacy settings are in place.
In a similar vein, crowdsourcing can be used to great effect by OTT providers to track hot and trending content in real time and promote it to others. For example, the platform can be set up to automatically change the order in which on-demand content and linear channels are presented to the consumer, based on these factors.
The more graphically inclined OTT providers could also add an index – a buzz meter or similar – that shows trending content as it moves up and down in popularity.
There’s no doubting the impact that OTT players have already had on the TV industry. By rolling out Cloud DVR and wraparound services such as Social TV/Enhanced Discovery, all underpinned by a scalable, open and flexible backend platform, OTT providers can deliver an unrivalled immersive, personalised viewing experience that will keep viewers coming back for more.