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Is OTT Now A-OK?

A topic that featured widely in many of the interesting sessions at Motorola’s Video Leadership Forum this week in Monte Carlo was Over The Top (OTT) content and what should be done with it.

It’s fair to say that the mood towards OTT content from operators and set-top manufacturers has changed over the past 12-18 months. Where once it was viewed as a threat to premium video services, it is now, judging by today’s presentations and conversations, seen as a complimentary service.

While nobody is under any illusions about the potential for OTT to shave operator revenues as subscribers dial down their packages due to getting content directly via the internet, there is an air of confidence about new services operators can deliver around web TV, social television and home networking and automation.

Indeed, rather than simply offering access to OTT content for free, some operators – including one of the VLF keynote companies Telenet – believe that revenue can be generated from providing fast and easy access to OTT content. We’re talking micro-payments rather than big money but heartening to hear that by providing direct access to carefully selected and targeted content operators and service providers could persuade viewers to pay for access. The reasoning being that they can provide a far superior experience as regards accessing content as opposed to having to go hunting round the Internet and/or accessing content via unfamiliar devices such as games consoles.

The mood towards OTT was probably best summed up by Motorola’s Keith Kelley in a briefing to the media. When asked how service providers can maintain customer loyalty and grow their services in the face of OTT content he was honest in his assessment of the challenge yet positive about the future.

“OTT services are main stream,” he offered, adding that in his home alone there were probably nine pieces of ‘glass’ that he and his family could access video from. How will this will merge with service providers is a tough question he admitted

But he was adamant that there is a strong ecosystem around service providers which is a powerful draw for customers. Also he reminded us, companies like Motorola haven’t been sitting on their laurels since the arrival of OTT content. The nascent industry of home networking and automation is set to really take off and operators and gateway/set-top box providers are in pole position to deliver these services.

Yes, OTT will impact revenues in some areas, but there are other areas yet to be tapped. And as Telenet explained, what’s stopping a service provider turning its content portal into an OTT content portal as well?

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