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Cutting the Cord? That's So Five Years Ago, Google Says
The OTT world is changing and once again young viewers are leading the way. What's needed is more differentiation and experimentation in the industry.
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Young adults these days don't make a conscious decision about cutting the cord, asserted Serge Kassardjian, global head of media apps business development for Google Play. That was a discussion five years ago. Now, people decide what content they want and decide the best way to get it.

Kassardjian spoke on a New York Advertising Week panel today called "Streaming Is the New Black," which examined how the business of streaming video is changing. While discussions remains stuck in the "cut the cord" days, he said millennials are all about getting what they want to see in an efficient way.

That's not the only way the industry is stuck in older ways of thinking. "There's a new OTT service that comes out every week," Kassardjian said, and "there's a new OTT service that closes down the next week." Throughout it all there's a certain sameness about these services: They offer similar content and bill in similar ways. Kassardjian would like to see a lot more diversity and experimentation. Why does each service bill by the month? How about daily subscriptions for sports or special events? And why are subscription fees the same for each user? Perhaps services could charge less for subscribers that already have a related service. Rather than finding it confusing, he says subscribers react well to differentiated pricing.

"That's where the opportunity is and that's where you can differentiate from the bundle," Kassardjian says.

For the OTT services on the market, search and discoverability have become major issues. Just getting noticed is a hurdle when the field is so crowded. "There's a lot of noise," Kassardjian said.

One growth area is in live video. While many think of live as best suited for news and sports, live has emerged as a strong area for dramas, as well. Series like Game of Thrones spawn an industry in post-shows and other discussions, so anyone who doesn't watch the show live isn't getting the same experience.

"People are being trained about how to react to live," Kassardjian noted.

Also on the panel was Albert Lai, CTO of Brightcove, who spoke about changing OTT monetization strategies. Many services are trying to work out the ideal business model, he said. Going with subscriptions seems like a straightforward option, but then they do the math and realize they'll need ad support, as well. But serving ads requires an ad sales teams and a collection of paying advertisers, all things that take time to build up.

"Advertising is still a healthy option to a subset of those OTT offerings," Lai said.

However, OTT services need to be careful how they implement ads. Today's viewers—especially young viewers—won't stand for an experience that's worse than broadcast. To illustrate that, Lai told how his own three-year-old daughter was put off by a brief buffer delay while watching a program on a tablet. After waiting a few seconds for an ad to load, she was too annoyed to continue and handed the tablet back to Lai. "Broken," she said.

Serge Kassardjian and Albert Lai

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