i3 - March/April 2017 - 45

By Gary Arlen

Business

C S PAC E

Re-Inventing Over-The-Top

Beyond Its Roots

OTT originally got its name about
ten years ago when viewers began
tuning into streaming video content
he panelists on the CES/Digital Hollywood session
such as iTunes, Netflix and Hulu
"Next Generation OTT" unanimously agreed that
programs, via the broadband capacity
the term "Over-The-Top" has become a meaningless
of their cable systems. To cable operators'
utter dismay, such viewing was above
and counter-productive name in the new era of
and beyond (i.e. over-the-top) their
streaming, on-demand, targeted internet television.
revenue-generating pay TV channel
profit centers.
But coming up with an alternative
There are almost no barriers to
Suddenly, some of the most popular
word poses a challenge, as "cloud DVR,"
entry, Kochhar says, and hence, the
programming was out of their control.
"broadband video," "open caching archigatekeeper function - the choke point
Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast
tecture" and "Facebook TV" are part of
of previous eras - is reduced, bringing
and countless other hardware options
the expanding picture. Figuring out what
TV to anyone almost anywhere.
enabled cable cord-cutters to watch
to call the ever-growing internet video
Meanwhile, the value and availNetflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other
ecosystem is complicated by the deluge of
ability of TV keeps growing. Groups
video content online: no conventional
deals that show how OTT is being restruc- such as the Streaming Video Alliance
TV or subscriptions needed.
tured. Whether it is technology (such
are working with Major League
Fast-forward, today the entire
as the creation of the SDVoE (Software
Baseball Advanced Media, Viacom
video ecosystem is in flux. Mainstays
Defined Video over Ethernet) Alliance
and other content creators to establish
of the cable pay TV world, Home
or platform-poaching (Jerry Seinfeld's
technical specifications that assure
Box Office, Starz, ESPN (to a limited
popular Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
a "broadcast quality" experience for
degree) and Discovery, offer on-demand
moves from Sony's Crackle to Netflix later
online video. AT&T's recently acquired
streaming options.
this year), the online video world is awash
DirecTV has accelerated
Allison Dollar,
in an on-going overhaul of its features.
the release of its streaming
The entire
CEO of the ITV
"'OTT' just confuses the situation,"
DirecTV Now, which John
says Xavier Kochhar, founder and CEO
Stankey, CEO of AT&'s
video ecosystem Alliance, established
as an interactive
of The Video Genome Project, a metadata
entertainment group, calls
is in flux.
TV association
company recently acquired by Hulu. "It's
"the foundation for what we
20 years ago, OTT
not the content, it's all about the experido in the future."
was a useful term
ences." Kochhar expects that as "anyone
"in a Wall Street context" as the industry
can create a digital portal" for distribution
took shape. Now, in a "chaotic industry
of content, a new generation of DMPVDs
in rapid transition," Dollar sees the need
("Digital Multichannel Video Program
for a better way to deal with "transactional
Distributors" - an update of today's cable/
touch points and targeted advertising"
satellite MVPDs) will evolve.
which the new platforms enable.
He cites the growing video content on
Dollar says what's now called OTT
YouTube, both professional productions
is part of a cluster of digital elements,
and do-it-yourself clips ("user
including content, technology, advertisgenerated content"), as evidence
ing and distribution. Parks Associates,
of today's easy access.
a research firm, recently confirmed
that nearly one-third of U.S. broadband households subscribe to multiple
OTT services and pay an average
of $29 per month for incremental
video-related entertainment, beyond
their core cable TV fees.
Which reinforces a point made
by Kochhar of The Video Genome
Project: someday it will all just be
called "television." n

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C TA . t e c h / i 3

MARCH/APRIL 2017

45


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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/manifest/i3_20180304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/manifest/i3_20180102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/manifest/i3_20171112
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/manifest/i3_20170506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/manifest/i3_20170304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/manifest/i3_20170102
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