Critical Challenges Faced by OTT Providers Today One has to evolve with the demand and understand the requirement in advance

By Gaurav Malik

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India increased its tally of active internet users to 481 million in December 2017, growing by 11.34% from the previous year. This figure is expected to reach 500 million by June this year. The wave of digital adoption is undoubtedly sweeping across the country, but what are users doing online?

Limelight Networks' "The State of the User Experience' found that that watching videos is the most common online activity amongst Indian internet users and that more than half of users spend about 10-15 hours or more online every week.

Over-the-Top (OTT) service providers are a key group that are looking to tap into this promising user base. These digital service providers that broadcast media offerings through their own platforms, bypass media distributors to deliver content directly to their audiences. Understanding consumer demands and online usage patterns, OTT providers thus need to ensure compelling content offerings and a superlative user experience to ensure retention of this promising user base.

What are the challenges they face and how can they overcome them? Let us find out.

The Curious Case of Compelling Content

The biggest challenge they face relates to content - entertaining content is a prerequisite to drive subscription and grow consumer affinity. Challenges also come in the form of content discovery and delivery. Even if a platform hosts engaging content, it will be near to impossible to retain users if they are not able to discover these offerings.

As such, providers need to ensure that content is aptly targeted to end-users. Equally important is delivering a high quality experience without delays in content delivery. Given the key priority to curate strategic content, OTT providers often work with Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) who specialize in broadcast quality online video delivery. Another important benefit of CDNs is they address the issue of scalability and can enable regional OTT platforms to scale locally and globally without experiencing unviable infrastructure spends.

Delivering with Consistency Across Devices

Today's audience often consumes content through a range of devices, from desktop computers to their smartphone. Regardless of device, users demand consistency in their experience. OTT providers thus face the challenge to deliver the desired content to the user without latency, while ensuring that it is adaptive to device that the user is streaming it through. To circumvent this, apart from collaborating with CDNs, OTT providers also see to it that transmuxing (which converts a file into the desired container format while keeping its original content intact) is leveraged to do away with this problem and relay most optimal content.

This helps with ensuring the quality of experience that users seek. With the wide variety of content and options available to the consumer, failing to deliver in terms of quality parameters creates a major risk for OTT providers to lose their viewers to their competitors. OTT providers thus recognize the need to ascertain a superlative user experience with the help of working with CDN partners.

Moving Forward in a Competitive Market

The Indian consumer market is growing at an undeniable rate. For one, national smartphone adoption, considered to be a critical parameter of digital adoption across developing countries, is estimated to reach. All blocks are perfectly aligning for Indian OTT providers, as they stand to gain from a huge potential market of about 100 million subscribers, growing at a rate of 35% year-on-year. The future is clearly shining for OTT platforms in our fast-digitizing nation – but only if they are able to cater to the demands of their users and timely resolve the prevailing challenges in user experience. Otherwise, they could end up losing more users than they gain despite the market conditions in their favor.

Gaurav Malik

Country Director, Limelight Network

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