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How XR is Revolutionizing the OTT Experience

José Somolinos

Solutions Strategist and XR Lead

October 21, 2021


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Before the emergence of OTT, the TV market had stagnated. TV operators were competing to see which could aggregate as many channels as possible within their offering. The race to become a super aggregator was on.Now a familiar pattern is resurfacing. Many years later, the OTT market is about to reach the same point, with the big players in the industry fighting to see which one can aggregate the most content. Building a video portfolio that offers consumers an immersive library of content is essential in a competitive OTT market. But it is not only the volume of content that is important, but also the quality of the offering.Outside the remit of major OTT players, any small company can now launch an app "like Netflix" relatively inexpensively. Viewers must choose which services they are going to subscribe to. With a vast array of mainstream and niche options available, consumers are starting to show signs of market saturation. Viewers will choose providers based on price and quality of the catalogue, but they can't subscribe to every platform that’s available to them. User Experience (UX) and the number of features are not key decision-drivers anymore, content in all its forms is definitely king.

5G and XR

When operators and other service providers moved into the OTT arena, they redefined the video experience by opening it up for use with mobile devices. Now, once again, there is a new avenue for operators. XR is the perfect fit, it promotes the use of 5G and opens up an exciting and more interactive way to engage with video content.5G is already deployed in almost all major cities around the world, compatible phones are cheaper and cheaper, however, do we already have a strong reason to upgrade our package? Operators had been constantly searching for the killer use case, which would make 5G indispensable for end-users. Streaming OTT gave the extra push needed to develop the quadruple play offer. The comment, “why would someone watch a video on a tiny phone screen” was common in the OTT industry.

But now we only need to look at on-the-go video consumption around the globe to see just how popular watching video via 3G and 4G networks has become. Video entertainment consumption is now undoubtedly one of the primary cases for mobile and network usage. This should prepare companies for the ways that XR is redefining the video industry.

XR pushes us beyond video

In XR, video audiences are not simply users anymore – they are visitors. The interaction goes beyond tapping a button on a remote control or a touch screen. The users will become stars in a fresh way to interact with content. XR generates curiosity and brand interest. Attracting more users, investors and commercial partners.Today, XR can make a difference for sports. We can create a custom interactive experience that enhances the video like never before. Sports are great for XR because they have metadata and fan experiences, such as the trophy or stadium discovery. Also, we can't forget opportunities for merchandising and advertising that companies are monetizing today. Other types of content such as reality shows are more suited to have character profile info, poll, voting and sponsored immersive experiences. Accedo can create XR experiences with your existing content that can be enhanced as the technologies progress. Experimenting is the way to do it. We understand this approach - small in the beginning. This means that XR can adapt to any budget and grow as you grow.

Once you have started your journey with XR, we can define together how XR can fundamentally change the way we interact with any type of content. Imagine a new TV show set in the future. Before watching the first episode, fans could meet their friends in a themed virtual room, like a spaceship with a planet in sight through a porthole. The friends could interact with microgames related to the TV show, or perhaps talk with a small pet robot from the cast. They can then watch the TV show together while commenting as if they were all in the same room. Once the series is over, why not buy virtual accessories to decorate your virtual home as mementos? The precedent for this type of user engagement has already been set within the gaming world. Bringing the same ethos to video consumption, provides the opportunity for operators to not only gamify content but to build immersive, interactive worlds for their viewers.

This is just the beginning – XR will create alternative ways to engage and interact with audiences beyond what we can currently imagine. New monetization channels, such as buying a VR experience or virtual assets, could soon become commonplace and innovation will only grow from there. XR is not just a platform, it develops entirely new areas of consumption for organizations. TV brands can be extended to become social hubs for video content where like-minded fans can meet and share their interests. This type of deep-rooted engagement creates a connection that goes far beyond passively binge-watching a new series. It takes content to the next level. Accedo understands that XR is not simply another platform, but a whole new strategy.

Finding the right XR fit

This new XR phase for video companies, will require the industry to redefine the viewing experience. Accedo has recently partnered with the Augmented Reality (AR) glasses brand Nreal, to deliver XR innovation for video consumers.Nreal’s new AR headset has been “made for binge watching” and is one of the first AR devices marketed directly to the consumer. The newly released Nreal Air is light, simple to use and offers an attractive price point, making it much more accessible for viewers. These glasses can project a virtual 130-inch screen from 3 meters away, or a 201-inch screen at 6 meters. The users experience AR in their own home creating a whole new viewing dynamic. In addition to having a virtual big screen meters away, multiple 3D experiences surround the screen to complement the environment. In the markets where Nreal Light is sold, users watch an average of 49 minutes of video per day, so there is a potential to incrementally enhance their experience watching video.

Operators can actively participate in the adoption of XR technology as resellers, enabling Nreal to enter a new market through a consolidated partner. The operator is today in the unique position to provide the consumer with a complete XR package. By selling the AR glasses, the high-end Android device and the 5G subscription required to experience XR. It’s a win-win situation for every part involved.To demonstrate what can be achieved, Accedo has created a demo application for the Nreal glasses. Comprised of four parts, this demo will give customers a taste of what can be experienced in an XR environment.

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