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CES Report: Ericsson Tries to Solve the Pain Points of OTT Video

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"It's like going into somebody's living room and seeing a stack of 10 remote controls," said Mark Jeffery, senior director of technical strategy, mediacom at Ericsson. Jeffery was speaking at an International CES 2015 panel on the next generation of OTT video, but at the moment the panel was looking at what was wrong with the current generation.

Search and discovery is a major pain point, Jeffery and other panelists agreed. Viewers don't get a unified experience, but none of the participants seem to have an incentive to create one.

"There is an issue. There's a discrepancy between what the user wants and what the video distributor wants," Jeffery said. Service providers want to own the customer and own the experience, so they don't want consumers going directly to their content and bypassing the interface. MVPDs, he believes, are best positioned to create a unified search and stand to gain the most from it.

Second-screen apps are also a pain point—when they're used, at all. The only place Jeffery believes they work is for voting during a live show. Authentication for TV Everywhere programs is often too complicated. He sees Dish's Sling TV announcement as a positive step in what needed, but is stunned that it's been criticized for not offering enough sports.

"I was actually surprised that the reaction seems to be less than positive," Jeffery said.

Signing up for an UltraViolet account was a painful experience, Jeffery said, when he did so years ago. But he sees that as a needed first step in getting entertainment in the cloud, where it's better protected than on a home computer.

Data caps could be a problem in 2015, said Jeffery, and he believes that homes might start paying for bandwidth the way they currently pay for mobile data. 

"It wouldn't surprise me if that switch gets flipped," Jeffery said.

Looking ahead, Jeffery sees service providers standing to gain the most from offering more OTT services, with more on-demand content and fewer linear feeds.

Watch for exciting developments from startups, which Jeffery said will continue to push boundaries especially in areas of carriage rights and retransmission feeds. The FCC has decided to stand back and give online startups room to operate, which he sees as a positive sign.

"Things are moving, but there's a lot of moving parts," Jeffery noted, adding that we'll be in a better place for OTT video next year.

Mark Jeffery, Sr Director, Technical Strategy - Mediacom Group Function Technology, Ericsson; and Jim O'Neill, Principal Analyst, Ooyala

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