Special Reports

Interacting With New Media Market

Menno Koopmans of Universal Electronics Inc points out that the OTT content industry and the services business that provide viewers access to it continue to grow at a tremendous rate, with no sign of slowing down. Now is the time for device manufacturers and content providers to ensure that the viewer needs are addressed in the transforming entertainment landscape

ver-the-top (OTT) services have had a tremendous impact on the modern entertainment landscape, providing viewers with more options and on-demand content, dethroning traditional broadcasters in the living rooms of ‘cord cutters’ and other consumers. The selection of OTT services has expanded rapidly since Netflix began offering its streaming services in 2007 in the US, with Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Apple TV and others all claiming a place in the American market. Slowly, other countries followed suit and today, OTT is a global phenomenon.
The OTT market is expected to be worth $10.1 billion by 2018, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). According to the PwC Issues Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2014-2018, the total entertainment and media spending on digital services is forecast to grow at a 12.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2013 and 2018 and account for 65% of global entertainment and media spending growth, excluding spending on Internet access.
The growth of ‘24/7 access’ suggests that the key to monetising the digital consumer is to adopt flexible business models that offer more choices and better experiences. OTT and digital music streaming are two of the fastest-growing consumer sub-segments cited in the Outlook, set to rise at annual rates of 28.1% and 13.4% respectively.
Despite wide development in the European and North American markets, there remains room for growth in emerging markets in Asia, South America and Africa, including countries like China, Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia. This is where the real action will unfold in the next few years, in the entertainment business.

WHERE IS THE OTT MARKEt headed?
A driving factor in OTT’s growth has been the consumers’ demand for more choice in programming, aided by the many ways for them to access their content – laptops, smartphones, tablets, video game consoles and other devices. As internet speeds continue to improve, streaming high-definition content – both at home and on the move – is becoming easier, propelling the idea of ‘content anywhere’ even further.
Content providers are struggling to keep up with the changing expectations of viewers and effectively monetising their content. While OTT providers formerly relied on licensing programmes from traditional broadcasters, focus has begun to shift towards original content, with Netflix and Amazon in particular pushing their own series and films. Even traditional broadcasters like Showtime and HBO in the US have launched their own streaming services in order to appeal to customers not connected to cable or satellite television.

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Engaging (With) Content
With a growing number of sources from which to access content, the ability for viewers to engage with it and control their experience is becoming increasingly complex as well. Take the case of the remote control, for instance. It is crucial in the modern living room, considering it is used to access OTT content and other peripherals connected to the television.
These include devices such as DVD players, laptops, sound bars and stereos. For an ideal user experience, the viewer must be able to easily interact with content across many formats, enabling them to watch what they want, when they want.
With the wide array of content provided via OTT, traditional ‘channel up/down’ buttons simply will not cut it. Users must be able to find what they are looking for and navigate the multitude of menus intuitively.
This can be accomplished through traditional buttons, voice commands, gestures or track pads. Regardless of the input, it often requires switching between various remotes for the several devices involved.

One Brand To Rule Them All?
Although the easy solution in the manufacturer’s eyes would be for consumers to commit to a single brand with one remote control, the majority of consumers are utilising multiple devices, from multiple manufacturers, each with their own remote control.
The simple solution would be for device manufacturers and content providers to allow remotes to be used universally. The most intuitive and widely-compatible remote on-hand would find itself in the viewer’s hand most often, regardless of which device the content is coming from.
OTT content and the services that provide viewers access to it continues to grow at a tremendous rate, especially with emerging markets opening up to the technology. Whether consumers continue using set-top boxes, switch to smart TVs or completely new devices, manufacturers and content providers need to pay closer attention to viewer needs in the constantly evolving entertainment landscape.

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