The end of OTT

Simon Frost
Guest Contributor

There shouldn’t be a single person reading this short article that isn’t familiar with the term OTT. Since the meteoric rise of video delivered over IP-based networks of another party and famous, internet-based companies that built value-based businesses on the top of those providing internet connectivity, we have become familiar with the term.

Delivering video over IP isn’t new of course. It has been with us for over 15 years and the spectrum of quality, performance and content brands associated with IP video has been broad. What we have referred to as ‘IPTV’ was the service of television that the telecoms industry introduced (with an emulation of cable TV being their starting point). We have also called this managed IP video.

Our vibrant, wonderful media industry is getting increasingly complex to maintain the labels/categorisation and segmentation of focus that we have been using for many years. content owners, broadcasters, pay TV service providers (MVPDs) and internet disruptors are all emulating one another, merging to drive scale and connect powerful content rights with span of video distribution and subscription. None of this is very surprising, because what we see is a fundamental shift of how the most premium, professional video is distributed (non premium video exploded specifically because of the low-cost, simple ability to distribute via the internet).

I would like to make a call for action in 2017 - The OTT term is now outdated

All video in the future will be IP delivered; most of this video will be delivered via the internet rather than by private managed IP networks (we could have a deep discussion on what these terms could really mean, technology and business model and even if the internet is unmanaged or not for video). We will see the erosion of dedicated broadcast technology delivery networks for premium video, as linear TV services migrate into vast pools of on-demand choice and new linear ‘channels’ spring-up delivered solely online. This will take many years of course, but the direction is clear.


So, I suggest that for 2017 and beyond we refer to ‘internet video’ as our new term to describe all forms of video over IP. We will in our discussions need to focus on the business models of internet video to understand the types, formats, and how premium it is (in the industry some have talked about YouTube as if it were always fix-it guides and cats on treadmills, spoken of Netflix as always premium entertainment, and Facebook video as social chat. These assumptions are already outdated with a huge merging of types of content across a global race to create the new mass-scale video distribution platforms adopted by consumers. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram all have launched live video options).

Internet video will still need some sub-segmentation to understand it, but there isn’t a player across the current television business or the new internet giants that isn’t focussing their resources on winning in internet video. RIP OTT – you served us well.

Comment below if you agree, disagree or want to discuss the nuances of video delivery or the evolving business of television.

Thank you for reading. Simon Frost

Simon Frost is an executive industry leader operating in the converging landscapes of Broadcast Television, Internet and Telecoms. He left Ericsson, where he last served as Global Head, Media Marketing & Communications, at the end of 2016 to"find or create something disruptive, new and truly agile as the converging TMT industry really begins its transformation adopting new cloud-centric technologies and consumers migrate to pure IP delivered, cloud hosted experiences." In addition, he is engaged in Media industry consultancy and commentary

This article was originally published on LinkedIn, and is republished here with the author's permission.

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