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The Future of OTT is Now at Streaming Media East 2022

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It should come as news to no one who reads Streaming Media, has attended Streaming Media events, or even has a vague idea of who delivers the shows they watch that OTT is the future of television, and for all intents and purposes the present as well. Most of us probably remember a time when OTT was mostly Netflix, and if the sands have begun to shift under the OTT old guard, that’s largely because the competition is intensifying as the market diversifies. Though the term “niche” tends to rankle those OTT content providers and aggregators to whom it’s applied, the ascendancy of services built to serve specific communities have added complexity to the OTT marketplace, as have emerging business models such as free ad-supported television (FAST) targeting demographics that want the content and have money to spend, but don’t necessarily want to spend it on more OTT subscriptions.

A recent Parks Associates survey found that 80% of U.S. broadband households have at least one OTT subscription, and nearly half (49%) have four or more subscriptions, even as viewing times have dropped off since the early pandemic-era peak, with churn and competition–from both the subscription and ad-supported worlds–at an all-time high. Also fueling OTT’s rise is the rapidly growing installed base of connected TVs with the ability to work outside the old OTA model baked in. eMarketer reports that more than 204 million U.S. viewers will be watching their shows on connected TV devices in 2022.

To provide a snapshot of the OTT universe that goes beyond the numbers–though we’ll be reporting some key data points as well–Streaming Media is presenting a dedicated track on “The Future of OTT” at Streaming Media East 2022, which runs May 24-25 in Boston. Designed to provide practical insight on how broadcasters, cable and satellite ops, MVPDs, vMPVDs, and content creators/providers/owners can succeed with OTT and Connected TV, the track will focus on the business and tech of developing a successful OTT service, how to leverage critical data points to make sense of the evolving OTT ecosystem, and key developments in content creation, acquisition, and monetization that will help you fashion an effective OTT strategy.

To maximize discoverability and help you home in on the sessions you want to attend (though you just might want to hunker down and take in the whole track), here are some highlights of who you’ll see and what you’ll learn in the Future of OTT:

Day 1: Finding the Riches in the Niches and Seeing the Big Picture

Kicking off the track on May 24 in “OTT101. Fireside Chats with OTT Innovators,” you’ll find Streaming Media VP and editor-in-chief Eric Shumacher-Rasmussen sitting down for fireside chats with OTT’s most successful and dynamics execs to suss out the stories of their success, as well as the challenges they’ve met along the way that have shaped their services informed their current strategic approach. One chat you won’t want to miss is Damian Pelliccione, CEO and Co-Founder of Revry, the first global LGBTQ+ streaming TV network. If you haven’t caught Pelliccione’s several star turns at Streaming Media Connect events, you might just recognize Revry from their Times Square billboard.

Up next, moderator extraordinaire Chris Pfaff will helm a roundtable on “The Future of OTT Advertising,” discussing key technologies like SSAI and CSAI and the new world of streaming-centric TV advertising. With the proliferation of services built on ad-driven OTT models like AVOD and FAST, mastering the art and science of selling streaming audiences to advertisers is more crucial than ever. Joining Pfaff on this all-star panel: Roku’s Jessica Masters, WarnerMedia’s Derek Gatts, CBS Interactive’s Jared Wilichinsky, Penthera’s Scott Halpert, and Crackle Plus’ Tim Ware.

Finding riches in the niches might be the hottest topic in OTT these days, in large part because finding those riches underwrites the critical role many insurgent OTT outfits play in serving underserved demographics. Achieving diversity and strengthening representation in OTT is both necessary and profitable; the LGBTQ+ market served by Revry, for example, represents $1.1 trillion of spending power in the U.S. alone according to the 2020 Census. Revry’s Damian Pelliccione will join moderator Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen for this panel, along with kweliTV Founder & CEO DeShuna Spencer and Canvas Media Studios Founder & CEO David Tochterman.

RICHES IN THE NICHES

Rounding out the OTT track’s first day with “The Big Picture: Where Does Streaming Video Fit?” Interpret VP Brett Sappington will reveal recent survey data on the current multiverse of digital entertainment, and the share OTT video currently claims in the mindshare of digital consumers, and time they spend online vis a vis social media, esports, gaming, and the like. Sappington will break it down further to highlight different types of online video and their slice of the pie, and what brands need to know to respond to current and emerging trends as the digital media market continues to evolve.

Day 2: Curating Niche Content to Catalyze Change, Thinking Local, and Meeting the Churn Challenge

Joining Streaming Media’s Eric Shumacher-Rasmussen in the Fireside Chat hot seat to open Day 2, DeShuna Spencer, CEO of kweliTV, will discuss the challenges of running the industry’s only Black-owned streaming service expressly devoted to creating, curating, aggregating, and celebrating global Black stories, as well as the intricacies of sustaining and monetizing a hybrid service that offers an economically diverse audience a free, ad-supported plan and multi-tiered subscription levels with access to more content and discounts to more partner brands. She’ll also explain a profit-sharing model that rewards content creators whose contributions support kweliTV’s mission as a catalyst for change.

Next up, in “OTT202. Think Big, Program Small: The Importance of Localized Content,” Straight Arrow News’ Rob Dillon and Didja.tv’s Jim Long will discuss how partnering strategically with local stations enables forward-thinking OTT services to fill the local news, sports, and weather void viewers discover when they first cut the cord and take the leap into life after cable. They’ll also explain how well this strategy plays with advertisers as well as viewers.

Closing out the track in “OTT203. Improving Customer Acquisition & Reducing Churn,” Dillon heads up a dynamic panel on meeting the challenges of a saturated OTT market where subscriber churn has reached an all-time high. With more services angling for a slice of the OTT pie than ever, and market differentiation becoming ever more difficult, major players and niche services alike must contend with the difficulties of reaching customers in new and innovative ways and keeping them on their subscriber roles after they’ve cycled through the shows they signed up to see. Paul Erickson from research analyst Parks Associates, DistroTV’s Navdeep Saini, Knowledge Network’s Ravi Singh, and FrndlyTV’s Bassil El-Khatib round out this high-powered panel.

REDUCING CHURN BY THE NUMBERS WITH PARKS

Register now to secure your spot at the Future of OTT track and to take advantage of all the program highlights of Streaming Media East 2022. (Which, if I neglected to mention it, is live and in-person, May 24-25 at Boston’s Westin Copley Place!)

Our latest Streaming Media Survey reveals that 72% of your industry peers are ready to return to trade shows and conference, so you'll be in good company! If you sign up by April 22, you'll get the early bird rates for both a full-conference and an all-access pass which includes both Streaming Media East and Streaming Media University Workshops.

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