In my role as VP of Delivery and Operations at Accedo, content providers often come to me and my team to ensure that their service is available on, and optimized for, multiple platforms to attract and retain users. However, the number of devices in the market continues to grow and each platform has a different OS, requiring specific SDK expertise to develop an OTT application. If that’s not enough, the backend systems, analytics management, and monetization tools all need to be integrated into the solution while considering the customers’ total cost of ownership (TCO), business goals, market needs, and more.
With so many factors to evaluate, the most crucial decision for a content provider is whether to build the solution in-house or trust an agency partner with developing it. In this blog, I’ll share some thoughts that will hopefully enable your company to more easily make this decision.
If content providers have (or procure) the proper budget and expertise across various device platforms, they can achieve their OTT goals in-house. This route allows companies to freely manage their timeline and make changes to their project with considerable planning. Here are a few reasons why you as a content provider may consider designing and deploying a solution in-house:
Building an in-house team gives you direct control over hiring, management, timeline, and project operations. You will have direct oversight of the delivery and quality of the product as it is being developed, which also gives you the ability to make any updates to the code easily as, and when, required.
Some organizations believe that building an in-house team can be more cost-effective in the long run since outsourcing only offers short-term cost savings, especially for core functions. I’ve had discussions with companies who also consider that knowledge will stay in-house and potentially foster innovation within their team. However, there is an added cost of overhead when managing an internal team. Including adding people managers, training, benefits and hardware, as well as the costs associated with employee turnover which is all often overlooked when building out in-house teams. While cost-effective when teams are small, it can become expensive rather quickly when you start to scale up.
Working alongside with our customers for the last decade, I understand where they are coming from when they say that in-house teams care more about their own product than an external agency will ever do. Content owners build internal capabilities and skill sets as a long-term investment. The executives could also spend time and resources aligning the team with the company's culture and goals to foster a sense of loyalty and commitment among employees.
Some industries, especially those dealing with sensitive or proprietary information, may prefer in-house teams to maintain strict control over data security and ownership of intellectual property.
Partnering with an expert OTT outsourcing company allows video companies to benefit from a global talent pool of skilled engineers, designers, and QA specialists rather than limiting themselves to available candidates in a particular hiring market. This makes it easier to keep up with a quickly evolving market and also means that local variations in requirements can be easily met. Here are some other reasons content providers may choose to outsource their OTT video project:
An experienced agency partner will ensure that your streaming service is built with the initial capabilities you require and that your service can meet your needs in the future as you expand your service offerings. A team made up of hand-picked experts who have launched many similar custom OTT solutions can develop an OTT app with scalable and efficient code using the latest development best practices and coding standards for each device, enabling you to make modifications easily and maintain the performance of the app.
Partnering with a trusted solutions provider can provide cost predictability and help you avoid hidden expenses since you’ll hire the talent only for the project’s duration. This way, companies can manage their budget and avoid the overhead costs (such as severance, benefits, PTO/vacation payouts, erosion of culture from layoffs) of hiring and letting talent go after a product is built and launched in the market.
Cost savings made by outsourcing certain functions allow you to invest your in-house resources more strategically. Accedo has worked with companies that choose to build certain functionalities in-house. For instance, in some projects, our customers provide the design, and we are brought in to execute development and testing. Agency partners can also help you evaluate modular “off-the-shelf” or “white-label” OTT solutions and products based on your existing tech stack to deliver a customized solution that minimizes your total cost of ownership (TCO) and achieves your business goals.
Partnering with a solutions provider also allows companies to take advantage of the service management offerings some partners provide. Highly specialized partners can take full accountability to maintain your app, fix bugs, and proactively monitor your service to optimize performance.
Solution providers often have robust security measures and compliance standards in place. Many OTT solutions companies use multiple cloud providers to offer reliable hosting solutions and specialize in handling sensitive data.
With so many tech stack options in the market, a reliable partner can support you with evaluating system integrations (such as DRM solutions, analytics tools, and monetization solutions) that best suit your business and then effectively free you of managing those relationships by liaising directly with them to handle your integrations seamlessly.
When building an OTT solution in-house, your team can also face unprecedented challenges during the stringent OEM certification process for your OTT releases. Even the most experienced product managers and highest-skilled software and QA engineers are known to fall victim to the complexities and unknowns that arise with OEM certification phases for connected TV devices - especially when dealing with a concurrent multi-platform deployment strategy. Video solutions providers, like Accedo, understand the unique certification process of each OEM and have years of experience preparing, and achieving a highly rated pass rate, for these certifications. A major advantage that Accedo has, in particular, is strong partnerships with major OEMs which grants us preferred developer status, and ensures we maintain first-hand knowledge of any pending updates to certification processes. This is something to ask about when evaluating potential partners for your next OTT deployment.
If you’re looking to simply ‘outsource’ work, you may be headed down a path that leads to poor results, and headaches along the way. While cost-efficient outsourcing companies may look financially attractive and often boast a large number of engineers readily available to jump on your project, the companies may not have the specific expert skill set your project requires.
In this current macroeconomic climate, I understand that most content providers want to save money. However, it is a risk to outsourcing projects for the sake of saving budget and time. Outsourcing projects don’t always pan out the way you expect, especially when the selected partner isn’t a proven player in your industry. You could be compromising on quality and end-user experience, or be left hanging with a team of juniors who are not experienced in solving complex video delivery problems that exist in our OTT space. Another common issue is that of time zone disconnect between companies and outsourcing partners, causing frustrating and unnecessary delays in communication and productivity.
Instead, what your company should look for is a reputable video solutions partner who understands and aligns with your company’s mission and goals to bring your vision to life.
As a video solutions provider, Accedo aims to discuss and solve your unique business problems and identify innovative strategies to fulfill your business objectives and drive higher user engagement. We’ve designed and delivered hundreds of impactful video experiences, including Paramount+, Hallmark Media, Deutsche Telekom, NBC Sports, MasterClass, HBO, Bloomberg, Common Sense Networks, and many others.
As a delivery head, I have worked alongside many competitors in parallel trying to deliver OTT projects and I can attest that there is a difference between outsourcing and partnering. I take great pride in leading a team that is focused on delivering exceptional value to our clients and their end users. I’m always curious to learn about the ideas or projects you have in mind. Get in touch with us if you want to explore what it would look like to partner with Accedo.
Accedo will be attending CES 2024. We’d love to host you at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas. To book a meeting or find out more, go to https://www.accedo.tv/event/ces-2024.