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Accedo, 24i, and 3SS on the Current Trends and Future of OTT Video

Helen Weedon

Communications Manager

April 8, 2024


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Last week marked the debut of the Bristol Media and Entertainment Mixer, a collaborative effort by Faultline and 5V Video. It was a promising start to what we hope will be a series of engaging events, boasting a strong turnout, an interactive panel, and an abundance of pizza.

Any panel moderated by Faultline’s Tommy Flanagan promises intrigue, and last week's discussion didn't disappoint. Tommy brought together representatives from three competing companies - Accedo (represented by our very own Head of Sales and Marketing EMEA, Alex Wilkinson), 3SS, and 24i. Together, they delved into topics such as personalization, content discoverability, the role of data, and future experiences, navigating Tommy’s signature challenging questions with aplomb.

Here are the key insights from the conversation:

Meeting high customer expectations across all tiers

Tommy cited a recent conversation with Accedo’s CEO, Michael Lantz, where the latter commented that there are too many vendors in the OTT streaming space, meaning that we are likely going to see more consolidation of the industry going forward. Alex Wilkinson agreed, stating that while a lot of these companies are still around (which is a testament to an active market), most of them are smaller vendors offering quick turnaround development.

While Accedo caters to customers of all sizes, both 3SS and 24i focus primarily on higher-tier clients. Adam Nightingale of 3SS explained their emphasis on the operator market, which also comprises a notable portion of Accedo's own customer base. All three panelists agreed that higher tier customers are generally looking for larger amounts of customization - something which is naturally more complex and time consuming to deliver. However, as pointed out by 24i’s Stuart Huke, expectation levels don’t change across tier. Smaller customers with limited budgets also expect the same level of functionality as the likes of Netflix and it can be challenging to balance those expectations while still ensuring a good quality experience for end users.

Tackling content discoverability challenges

The panel extensively discussed the importance of content discoverability in driving successful video services. Adam of 3SS emphasized the growing power of users, who can easily switch to alternative offerings if content discovery becomes too cumbersome. While most users may not immediately churn due to a poor discoverability experience, frustration will start mounting over time and they will eventually end up abandoning the service altogether. All three panelists agreed that reducing time to content is imperative for video services. As put by 3SS’ Adam: “the money is in the content or the ads served in it, not in the user experience itself.” Users of services that have managed to crack the discoverability challenge will barely touch the application UI since the route to finding the right content is quick and seamless.

Most of the panel agreed that part of the answer lies in hyper personalization. As Alex commented: this is about creating more engagement and views by personalizing the content recommendations, but it may also encompass the addition of interesting features, such as gamification. In a world where every provider wants to look like Netflix, there is an opportunity for differentiation in experience by implementing innovative features such as for example motion design into a service.

Harnessing data and AI to drive video streaming excellence

Data emerged as a cornerstone for delivering personalized experiences, with all three panelists speaking about their companies’ varying approaches in this area. Stuart emphasized 24i's data-driven approach in understanding the user experience and journey - something which is necessary in order to improve it on behalf of customers. Meanwhile,

Adam highlighted 3SS's collaboration with partners to derive actionable insights from the data collected whereas Alex explained how Accedo employs a combination of both approaches. “Our recent acquisition of Easel TV brings a new range of automation and AI tools under our belt, while we also work with best-of-breed partners, such as JUMP”.

Regarding generative AI, opinions varied. Stuart explained that for 24i this is very much about the backend service improvement rather than the frontend delivery, an area where he feels we are a long way off from having a reliable enough solution. Adam of 3SS, however, talked about how AI can be leveraged to further discoverability, such as being able to use a voice assistant to give very detailed instructions on where to find what you are looking for. While AI content production might be in its infancy, Adam also highlighted the potential to create trailers using AI, which could then be personalized for each individual users based on what is most likely to appeal. 

For Alex of Accedo, AI’s biggest potential lies in its ability to create efficiencies. However, he also highlighted the importance of these solutions being 99.99% reliable, stating that “if it is unreliable, it will not be sustainable”. He also sees a future for voice activation but commented that previous iterations have simply not been good enough in the light of heightened customer expectations..

In summary, all panelists agreed that AI will not replace the need for human interaction. As Alex commented, “you won’t be replaced by AI, you will be replaced by someone using AI.” 

Exploring the uncertain future of OTT

The panel’s opinions diverged the most as it relates to the future of the video industry. For Adam and 3SS, in-car entertainment is the next big thing, especially with the growing number of electric cars on the market, complete with touch screen infotainment already in place. Alex spoke to the future of immersive experiences and while he was challenged by Tommy on the current adoption rates, stated that today’s XR experiences are already really good and “the only problem right now is the bulky and expensive headset”. Alex and Tommy discussed a recent consumer research study conducted by Accedo which shows that 56% of users would watch a concert in XR, and 50% a sports match, provided that they had access to the right type of equipment. While Tommy still challenged XR as the future of video streaming, Alex highlighted that we will be seeing huge advancements in headset technology in the coming years, significantly speeding up mass adoption of these kinds of experiences.

In conclusion, while there were differences in opinions on the future landscape, Accedo, 24i, and 3SS share common ground in understanding current market dynamics and prioritizing innovation. We look forward to more interesting conversations going forward - be they with partners, competitors or other stakeholders from across the video streaming industry.

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