OTTCon--and over-the-top delivery--come of age

editor's corner

Jim O'Neil

SANTA CLARA--This is the third year for OTTCon, X-Media Research's homage to all things related to over-the-top video. Things have changed greatly over those years.

For one, the location. OTTCon moved to new digs this year, the Santa Clara Convention Center. It's bigger, newer and more modern. It even had Wi-Fi that functioned through the entire conference.

For another, the participation of exhibitors has grown tremendously, there were nearly 30 booths set up this year. While that doesn't sound like much to folks who've been to events like TelcoTV and the other really big trade shows, it's a huge improvement over the handful of believers who made the trek to the first OTTCon three years ago. There potentially would have been more but the IP&TV World Forum is going on in London this week.

The nature, perhaps more accurately the weight, of the topic has changed, too.

As Greg Fawson, president and principal analyst of X-Media said during his introduction of Roku CEO Anthony Wood, "From the beginning of this coinference three years ago there's been great excitement in the OTT space and an equal skepticism. But it's had a tremendous impact (on media) and has been a game changer."

Three years ago, I wrote this about OTTCon:

"The mood on the opening day of this week's... conference in San Jose was, well, exuberant. The vendors scattered in the display area at the conference center were all exuberantly showing their wares to equally exuberant attendees. Exuberant presenters drew a lot of laughter (best line of the day was from Boxee marketing VP Andrew Kippen who, when asked how the OTT media-center software company made money, replied straight-faced, "Currently we don't... we keep asking venture capitalists for money, and they keep giving it to us."), and even late afternoon sessions, like "Cable/IPTV and OTT - Friends of Foes?" elicited, um, exuberant debate."

There was talk then of cord cutting, cord shaving and monetizing online video, just as there has been this week.

But this year, the discussion is more intense because, obviously, there's more cash at stake.

Where three years ago the discussion was just getting started about putting online video into living rooms, this year it's more about who is going to end up owning the living room. The crowd, in large part, exuberantly believes it's not likely to be traditional service providers.

As John Gildred, CTO of SyncTV told me: "The space is very complex... it's a varied landscape of opportunity. Legacy service providers that haven't really committed to OTT and see it as just some additional stuff that's fun to use are missing the point."--Jim