Today’s consumer demands instant streaming of content. Netflix is one of the most popular ways to watch movies and catch up on past seasons of your favorite TV shows. Binge-watching has become a way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. Subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Now are becoming more popular as people look for alternatives to network television and cable packages.
Today’s consumer has dozens of options, and it’s easier than ever to start your own OTT Platform.
What is OTT?
So what is OTT? OTT stands for Over-The-Top. It’s a method of providing film and television content via a high-speed internet connection. This is called IPTV, or Internet Protocol television. While cable and internet providers offer a package deal with network television, premium channels, and everything in between, OTT offers premium content that you choose. The content can be streamed using apps over a variety of devices. As long as you have internet, you can take advantage of IPTV/OTT services.
What is an OTT platform?
OTT/IPTV services can be streamed over a variety of different platforms. We mentioned desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. But Smart TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Firestick, and PlayStations can also deliver content. With a simple app loaded on your devices, you can start to watch a show at home and finish it on the go.
What are the benefits of an OTT platform?
If you’ve had cable or satellite service, you know that you can spend a lot of time clicking through channels and still not find anything interesting to watch. With OTT, you have control over the content.
As a provider, you can customize your brand, user experience, and have a direct connection to your consumer. You can provide ad-free content with a subscription service or offer free content with advertising and direct sponsorships. You can provide your audience what they want.
If you are a filmmaker, offering a series on an OTT platform provides freedom and flexibility as opposed to network norms in terms of scheduling and content.
How to launch an OTT platform – what you need
Launching an OTT Platform has never been easier with video hosting. In the cloud, you don’t have to worry about large servers and running out of bandwidth. Simply upload videos, tag them, and schedule when they will play.
There are several factors to consider when launching an OTT platform. First, you need to choose a niche, then choose a monetization model. You also must create a video website and build a branded app to connect with customers. You can distribute your content to the platform, analyze your user’s behavior, and promote your network.
From your platform, the user chooses the content they need to watch and it plays on their screen. This video content needs to be translated into the language the device can recognize.
When you upload a video, you translate it into an HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) format that can be delivered over the internet using a HTML5 web communications protocol. This form of encoding and transcoding will define the video format, including how it is compressed, the size of the video chunks sent over the internet, and more.
The result is the customer is provided with high video quality with no buffering. Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) enables the content to look just as good on a smartphone as it does on a Smart TV.
Multi-DRM Security (Digital Rights Management)
Security is always on everyone’s mind. How can one provide content over the internet in a way that protects the user’s data as well as keeps hackers from getting free content? Multi-DRM Security protects against malware attacks and disruptions of service. App integrity protection can detect cheat tools, packet sniffing, and spoofing tools. It’s important to look for an IPTV DRM solution that can manage licenses and business rules, can keep up on the latest updates, handles a variety of protocols, and is available 24/7 to protect your network.
Middleware and CMS (Content Management System)
Your channel is only as good as the content you provide. Keeping that content flowing and available to customers requires an excellent middleware system. It will allow you to upload and manage content using a variety of video file formats, as well as the ability to handle the customer side of the business. Billing, payments, analytics, reporting, security, and customer preferences can all be managed. You also need a place to provide playback, video on demand, live streaming, subtitle support, tags, and links to social media. A good middleware system has an interactive interface to manage your accounts, help your business grow, integrate with other applications, and manage your content.
Multi-Screen Devices and Apps
OTT/IPTV service platforms integrate across a variety of devices, but your customers want to see continuity in brand colors, logos, and other features. At home there are set-top boxes to manage menus; on your smartphone, this is all built into a customizable, interactive interface. Make sure your apps are available in all major app stores.
CDN: Content Delivery Network
Whether you offer strictly video, voice services, messaging, audio applications, and television options, you must take into consideration the CDN – the delivery of content across networks. You need the ability to stream to worldwide audiences with no interruptions.
A dynamic CDN software system includes improving website load times, reducing bandwidth costs, increasing content availability and redundancy, and improving network security. This can be achieved through highly connected locations across the world and strategic placement of servers. All of these factors improve the seamless delivery of content.
SVOD and AVOD Monetization
There are several ways to monetize your network. The most basic way is a monthly subscription service (called SVOD, or subscription video on demand). The customer pays a flat rate, and they can watch content 24 hours a day. TVOD, or transactional video on demand, lets the customer watch an individual movie for a one-time price.
AVOD OTT monetization, or ad-based video on demand, offers revenue flexibility. An ad can be played at the beginning or end of the content. The viewer cannot just skip to the end of the ad, and they may be less inclined to because ads can be customized to a particular audience – increasing engagement. Using CMS and content delivery options mentioned earlier, you can track viewers’ interests and personas by the content they choose and target ads they will find interesting.
Conclusion: Ready to Launch
Today’s OTT/IPTV platforms do not require an advanced degree to launch. Software interfaces, content uploaded to the cloud, easy customer management, flexibility of products, and a way to monetize your network are often in one easy-to-learn space. You can often use the infrastructure you’ve already got to get your network up and running in a very short period.