OTT vendors Ooyala, Ericsson jostle to add turnkey services, but market is getting crowded

multiscreen content
Sam Bookman Editors Corner

August was an interesting month for cloud-based streaming as many providers’ strategies around live streaming, transactional VOD and other services began to gel.

Most visible was NBC Sports and its Olympics coverage, which streamed all of the competitive events to its authenticated app. NBC said it once again set records for online viewing – and while the numbers are still a long way from matching the size of the traditional TV audience, the increased viewer interest in watching the Games live online was encouraging.

On the scaleability side, Ericsson added a “TV as a service” package to its IP video offerings, targeting its broadcaster and IPTV customers that are looking to deliver their content over the top as well. Another video services vendor, Encompass, teamed with Cisco this week to offer a cloud-based multiscreen delivery option to its customers, dubbed CloudStream.

And Ooyala recently launched a turnkey add-on, specifically a mobile app creator, which allows its customers to quickly launch mobile online video apps.

What’s similar about Ericsson’s service to vendors like Ooyala is the relative ease with which its customers can add a live streaming or VOD component to their TV services.

In the meantime, even smaller vendors are getting in on the act: Zype, for example, helped Mill Creek, better known for selling bargain-priced DVDs at retailers like Walmart, launch a transactional VOD service via its platform.

Ultimately though, turnkey OTT services may not be the game-changer that some vendors are hoping for. It all boils down to how successful their customers are in the OTT space, and with new SVOD, AVOD, transactional and live-streaming channels launching steadily, there’s less and less room to make a profit.

Further, the risk of consumers being overwhelmed by the massive choice of OTT video options is getting bigger. Digitalsmiths’ latest quarterly survey of viewers found that slightly more – about 1.3 percent – feel overwhelmed by the number of TV channels available to them already, and that 83 percent watch less than 10 channels regularly.

That doesn’t bode well for online video provider revenues, and by turn, will affect any profits that end-to-end delivery vendors hope to make from such ventures.

Cloud-based OTT services are a good innovation to be sure, but the cost efficiencies that they bring to content providers shifting to or adding an online video component may be offset by a sheer lack of viewers. -- Sam