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Distribution, Experience Will Determine the Winner in the Streaming Battle

OTT
(Image credit: iStock)

As our day-to-day shifts closer to home, growth opportunities for over-the-top (OTT) media services, like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and a myriad of others, are on the rise. Since the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are streaming more than ever—with half of Americans having increased video streaming by 50% during quarantine. 

Consequently, industry value shot to new heights—OTT streaming revenue is predicted to reach $438.5 billion by 2026, leading companies to seize the opportunity for new services. Disney+, for example, outran Netflix’s early growth rate, meeting the 50 million mark in April after launching in Europe and the U.K. amidst the throes of lockdowns. 

Even with streaming on the rise, not every new service will be successful. Not everyone can afford multiple subscriptions, and most simply don’t have the time to consume it all. As more and more companies throw their hats into the ring, there’s little room for error when it comes to perfecting their offering. So, what makes one OTT media company better than the rest?

HOW TO WIN OVER SUBSCRIBERS

First: engaging and entertaining content. Providing popular movies and shows is often the driving force behind attracting new subscribers. Second, once intrigued by content, price will make or break a consumer’s willingness to subscribe. 

But there are two other critical success factors that are less likely to be top of mind: experience and distribution. While these components do not necessarily make great marketing headlines, their importance cannot be downplayed.

Imagine you subscribe to two different streaming services with content of a similar calibre and equal pricing. One always loads quickly and plays clearly in high-definition without interruption. The other struggles to initiate programs and frequently lags, pauses or cuts out altogether. Which would you rethink when it comes to subscription renewal? 

IT infrastructure is at the crux of OTT media success. To meet the growing demands of their user bases, these companies need to manage their growing amount of data while delivering top-quality content to users across the globe. Superior IT infrastructure can get them there, not only ticking the boxes on quality and distribution, but on price as well. 

TOP-NOTCH NETWORKS

The ability to deliver more content to more users relies on strong and resilient connectivity that can quickly deliver the programming users crave—whether they’re tuning in on their smartphone from a train or while sitting on the sofa for family movie night. 

Media services can achieve the network flexibility they need by colocating in a dense connectivity hub. With the ability to interconnect network traffic flows by selecting from a roster of different internet service providers (ISPs), carriers, content delivery networks (CDNs) and internet exchanges at global points of presence, businesses can deliver their services at scale. 

With the ability to select the strongest connection possible from the many options a colocation data centre offers, services benefit from greater resilience. This flexibility not only provides higher quality and more consistent viewing experience for streamers, it also opens the opportunity for media services to leverage the most cost-effective option—which could then trickle down to a more attractive end-user price. 

TAKING THE BEST PATH

In the race to capitalize on the market, streaming providers are continuously testing new approaches to differentiate and capture the attention of subscribers. But there is more to it than flashy new offerings. To be successful, it is important that providers not lose sight of the distribution and experience factors that surround those offerings. 

Apple, for example, is honing in on price, with plans to bundle several of its services, including TV, music, gaming and more, all for $15 a month. Delivering such a diversified line-up of content to millions across the globe will only succeed with access to low-latency routes close to their user bases. 

By colocating at global points of presence, businesses like Apple will be able to set-up its services close to where subscribers are, whether they’re sitting in New York, Hong Kong or Paris. Spreading out IT environments through colocation allows providers to deploy, connect and host their most critical infrastructure next to users’ networks and clouds, creating low-latency connections that reach customers quickly and at a lower cost.

Although content is what makes the headlines for OTT streaming services, IT infrastructure has the power to decide who’s winning the fight. Colocation can set media services up for glory, distributing a high-quality digital experience to the masses while saving money in the process. 

Bryan Hill is director of platforms for Interxion: A Digital Realty Company