Transforming OTT from gee-whiz tech to mainstream entertainment source requires continued quality focus
One of the key terms I've heard over and over again at INTX this week – besides "disruption" and "transformation," because those pretty much define the cable industry these days – was "immersive experience." That was exemplified by the number of virtual reality demos running in most of the larger vendor booths, such as Comcast's, where cable executives gleefully sat three at a time, peering through Comcast-branded VR goggles at the experiences the cable operator promises in the future.
After a flurry of announcements and activity at the end of 2015 regarding their planned direct-to-consumer efforts, traditional networks, broadcasters and even cable operators mostly have yet to launch their own subscription video on demand (SVOD) services. That's beginning to change, but the trend for now appears to be cautious circling of the online video industry.
This year marked my third time covering the over-the-top goings-on at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, and the annual tradeshow, as usual, did not fail to catch the attention of the broadcast industry and the myriad vendors that support media and entertainment. Each year is different when it comes to the conversation around OTT and the technologies that are drawing the most focus and excitement, and 2016 was no exception.
It's fitting that this year's National Association of Broadcasters tradeshow takes place, as usual, in Las Vegas: for the past few years, NAB members have increasingly gambled on having a presence in the online video ecosystem. But this year, more than ever, that bet looks like a sure thing.
Verizon would roll Yahoo's video assets in with AOL, the unit that until its purchase last May was a direct competitor to Yahoo. But what benefits could Yahoo's assets provide to Verizon's video strategy? Which ones would be redundant?
Can live streaming really grow this year the way it's been forecast? What is standing in the way of greater adoption and availability?
On a holiday trip to visit family, I finally got the chance to try JetBlue's much-touted Fly-Fi service, as well as the Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming service that the airline has promoted since partnering with the retail giant earlier this year.
A couple of weeks ago, I noted the steep ramp-up in launches of over-the-top video services by both independent providers and large-scale operators such as Comcast and CenturyLink. The op-ed was a quick sketch of activity in the online video space. Afterward I sat down and listed, off the top of my head, all the OTT on-demand services that had launched or been announced this year.
And we're off: analysts earlier this year were predicting that at least 20 subscription-based OTT services would launch by 2018, most in small content niches. But in the meantime, a number of companies including startups, pay-TV operators and wireless carriers are jumping ahead with launches and partnerships, leaving analysts to scramble in the background.
How accurate is social media at gauging the real success and reach of a TV show or digital movie? At the beginning of this year, "engagement," or how often viewers mentioned a specific piece of content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other site, was heralded as an innovative (and cheap) way for content providers to get their finger on the pulse of viewer tastes.