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Winter 2019
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Is It Time to Rethink, Revitalize, or Redesign Your OTT Offering?
It's not just content and infrastructure that determines the success of an OTT service. The user interface—the "wrapping"—is just as important as what's inside the package.

A couple of weeks ago, Adrian Pennington asked the question “Is it time for a rethink?” in his article regarding the falling viewer numbers on the BBC iPlayer. He´s asking the right question, but I would like to extend his point a bit.

Within interactive TV, a new layer has become of paramount importance: the user interface. Herein lies the key to unlocking the huge potential in driving viewer engagement in the multi-layered world of new television. So far only a few savvy players have really invested in the “customer-loving” and revenue-driving potential that lies within the user experience across the screens. It is the right time to rethink, but many should rethink how they design their service in the front end in parallel with building a solid environment in the back end.

Over the last decade, the OTT industry has built services to accommodate growing expectations from the end users, trying to meet their requests for innovation and content availability. Most have focused on the technical solution, the video flow, and creating a solid architecture in the back end to serve the new way of watching TV.

In Pennington's article, Nick Fitzgerald's at TV2U comments that broadcasters like the BBC need to focus on innovating their entertainment service in change with the changing appetite of the end users, saying that partnering with cloud entertainment services and technology providers would enable the broadcasters to fight against the changing TV tides. Here he misses one important point: The end users don't care how it works. They just expect it to work.

Traditionally, TV has consisted of two basic things: content and infrastructure. Before, viewers were only aware of the infrastructure if it did not work—for example, when there was a storm and you were wrestling to fix your antenna. The infrastructure is key to distributing TV, so it's completely understandable that it takes focus when broadcasters are going OTT.

But again, the end users could´t care less. The viewer does not actively engage with the infrastructure. Traditionally the industry has focused on these two essential components, but moving forward to interactive TV, there is another necessary layer occupying the space between infrastructure and content—think of it as the wrapping or packaging. You can not rethink your OTT service without heavily focusing on the wrapping of the content and how you connect your on-demand services with your linear TV experience. And the better the wrapping represents the content, the more viewers will stay.

It`s not only the BBC iPlayer but many other broadcasters out there that need to take their service to a new level of end user interaction. Because in the future of TV, content is king and wrapping is queen. The rest should just work.

[Henriette S. Sæther is the Marketing Director at Sixty, a global targeting design and development agency. Streaming Media accepts vendor-written articles such as this one based solely on their value to our readers.]

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