All OTT services have one thing in common - they aim to build-up a strong number of followers and rule their respective markets for as long as possible. In some cases, a provider might even make moves to conquer new regions, either through direct combat or by collaborating with new allies.
Inside each OTT kingdom, there may be a great content catalog on offer but many providers still fail to leverage the full potential of their respective realm.
Today’s customers are used to consuming video on-the-go and having instant access to a variety of content on different platforms and devices. Video-on-demand (VOD) stopped being a novelty a long time ago, so the onus is on OTT providers to deliver truly engaging and rewarding experiences that go far beyond just offering engaging content or simply competing on price.
While OTT is well established, many broadcasters and media companies are still challenged with getting the basics right, especially in less mature markets across Asia Pacific. New video services are rolling out at an incredible pace and traditionally, this has often been done with a content-first approach. Whilst having the right content for your audience is of course still of utmost importance, it is just as crucial to consider how it is showcased and how engaging the overall experience is for your current and prospective customers.
It might seem like a simple task, but many providers fail to ensure that their content is seamlessly delivered and made available across multiple devices and in a manner that leaves the user always satisfied and wanting to consume more.
Device fragmentation is here to stay and so this simple task gets increasingly more complex each year, as new products launch with their own unique features and requirements. Service providers need to ensure that their video offering is able to be delivered to, and displayed on, all of these devices as consumers now expect to be able to watch content whenever they want and from wherever they are. Not to mention, services are increasingly expected to know what mood a user might be in and what content would suit them at any given moment.
Like any successful ruler in history, a good king or queen needs to know what their people want and be able to meet the ever-changing needs of their followers to help guarantee loyalty and a long and prosperous reign.
On today's OTT battleground, many companies fail to properly recognize the importance of a flawless user experience, despite it being a critical element in keeping viewers happy, engaged and wanting to consume more. An immersive user experience can create stickiness and ensure your viewers remain subscribed over a longer period of time or opt to watch that extra piece of content that then drives further revenues (depending on the monetization model). Not to mention, it helps to keep their eyes and minds away from competing OTT providers.
For large OTT providers who are spending vast amounts on content, there really is no excuse to not make the same investment in getting the UX right and ensuring your service is available on all platforms through increased distribution.
This comes down to a change in mindset, moving away from a pure content-first approach. For smaller providers, UX is even more important as it can help level the playing field and enable them to compete with the big household names. Premium content comes at a high price that not every provider can afford. By focusing on the customer experience they can help attract subscribers and differentiate their service at a much lower cost.
Indeed, there are many OTT services that are leveraging content from other providers, aggregating it into a powerful offering with immersive yet unified user experiences. A good example of this modern kingdom approach is Indian service provider, Tata Sky - the largest player in the country’s booming pay-TV market. This is a company that has traditionally focused on serving up its ‘own’ content but who is now openly making allies and aggregating the best on offer from their partners and other service providers.
Of course, they are not alone. There is an increasing number of traditional pay-TV and Telco rulers embracing this approach across the world. This means that the value of content itself is deflating and few providers have an upper hand in negotiating terms based on being the exclusive providers of a specific film or series. Instead, their focus should be to make it easy and seamless for users to consume a wide variety of content within the safety of their kingdom walls.
Taking this approach can be used as a powerful weapon against rivals. However, savvy industry players understand that the true power of any weapon lies in how you wield it.
Tata Sky is one such example and continues to invest heavily in providing an impactful user experience. The company pays as much attention to how they are offering their service as they invest in acquiring the content itself.
Even amongst those who manage to get the basics right, many Asian video providers fail to fully tap into the interactive potential of OTT. In the US, for example, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has implemented surveys and polls that pop up during the game, keeping viewers leaned in and engaged.
We are starting to see examples of similar initiatives in parts of Asia Pacific. For example, some Japanese video app providers encourage viewers to leave comments that display on screen. At the moment, this seems to work best for casual viewing concepts (such as reality shows) but there is no reason to not experiment with this kind of interactive feature for other forms of content as well.
As service providers in Asia Pacific aspire to grow their global reach, and with an increasingly younger fan base to engage, they will have to start looking at the latest technology (such as 5G) to create a better experience. By focusing on innovation, they can also open the door to adjacent revenue streams while incorporating additional methods for user engagement, such as marketing promotions and sponsorships.
Some video service providers may still think that the implementation of interactive functionalities represents a big leap and large investment with no proven impact on overall business revenues. However, by looking the other way they risk becoming obsolete in an increasingly crowded market and prone to attack from nearby rivals. During these uncertain and challenging times, it is more important than ever to be creative and experiment through innovation (if nothing else to keep your followers engaged and loyal).
New technologies, like 5G, are certainly going to accelerate the innovative and interactive possibilities of OTT. Bandwidth-hungry features such as VR and AR will suddenly become much more feasible, not to mention the general accessibility challenges in delivering traditional video streaming services. Technology will indeed make it even easier for providers to become an integrated part of consumers’ lives, enabling everything from the seamless delivery of premium video via OTT services, to fulfilling video content needs of a range of other industries including health, education, and even financial services.
The providers who are successful at tapping into at least some of the latest technologies, and who take the time to invest in a seamless user experience, will ultimately become much more desirable and have a greater chance of successfully ruling their respective markets in the long-run. Turning audiences into loyal followers is about more than just providing fun and engaging content. It is about carefully laying the foundation for future dominance by offering a world-class user experience that keeps evolving as the market and customer needs evolve.