OTT Worldwide: How is the world adopting OTT?
What is OTT?
OTT is a hugely popular term in the broadcasting industry. It actually stands for ‘over-the-top’, which is in reference to the method that OTT video is delivered to audiences across the globe. It goes over traditional cable and satellite transmission, delivering content quickly and securely via an internet connection.
When we talk about OTT platforms or video services, we mean the applications that deliver video through an internet connection. Some are subscription-based platforms like Netflix and Disney+. Others are free-to-air, offering catch-up and on-demand services through apps and websites. Some work on a pay-per-view basis, delivering live events to audiences who pay to access that content.
When we talk about OTT devices, we mean the devices that audiences use to access video streamed over the internet. The list grows every day – but the most popular options include smart TVs, mobile phones and games consoles. It’s even possible to watch OTT content on smart refrigerators.
Put simply, OTT is just another way that content is being delivered to audiences and their devices.
How has the US adopted OTT video?
The United States of America is often considered a proving ground for all types of technologies and innovations. This is certainly no different with OTT. Technology providers and research groups often look to the US for trend analysis and consumer research studies.
According to a 2021 study by Parks Associates, 82% of US homes now subscribe to at least one OTT video service. This is an increase of 6% from the same period in 2020. Further, the amount of US households ‘stacking’ their OTT subscriptions is rising as households commit to multiple OTT services to get their content fix.
Of course, the overall number of OTT video service platforms active in the US is rising exponentially by the day. It’s supplemented by rock-solid consumer confidence in internet streaming and a greater need for more personalised, niche content offerings. As the technology cements itself as a household essential, more and more media distribution companies are wising up to the fact that OTT delivery for new and old content is a must-have in the digital age.
How is Europe adopting OTT?
As with most things, uptake of OTT viewing in Europe is strong, but comparatively lower than in the US. Whilst consumers are eager to integrate mobile viewing into their consumption habits, typified by 46% of viewers streaming on mobile daily, a large proportion of individuals in western European countries express real frustrations with buffering and advertisements that dissuade complete OTT commitment.
Brands and broadcasters alike have risen to this challenge, addressing reservations relating to OTT consumption by making improvements to the ease of use, access and relevance of platforms and their offerings.
For example, platforms are increasingly becoming renowned for their ability to cater to specific niches. In a lockdown era where live events have often been restricted to on-screen spectatorship, platforms such as DAZN have been popular amongst European viewers who want to consume live sport, whilst avoiding the redundant suite of content associated with pay-TV offerings, who have traditionally have been the front runners for live event content access.
Additionally, in an effort to offer multiple content types to consumers, there has been a rise in the number of OTT aggregator platforms, like Amazon, Roku and Apple TV. Here, consumers can choose to access SVOD, AVOD and TVOD platforms in one connected space. There are also a growing number of exciting distribution deals taking place in European markets. For example, Vodafone’s decision in early 2021 to offer Discovery+ subscriptions to their fixed and mobile subscribers in 12 EU markets. Additionally, TalkTalk, a UK-based telecommunications company, chose to move away from pay-TV offerings to UK consumers, instead relying more on a mix of OTT and free-to-air TV services. These deals, amongst other factors, have greatly assisted in the promotion and distribution of OTT platforms in Europe. Netflix and Amazon have already overtaken pay-TV subscriptions in Western Europe – by 2025, OTT subscriptions will account for 53% of all video subscriptions in the region.
The dominance of satellite TV – still strong?
Despite these positive worldwide steps toward digital content domination, OTT is not always the answer for many regions and communities.
As OTT technology advances, the platforms that host this digital content are demanding more and more of our beloved bandwidth. This is an acceptable trade-off for most consumers in the US and Europe. But in some remote areas of the world, an internet connection is simply not possible. In others, it is not cost-effective, or there are limited options available. For example, in some areas of Asia, inconsistent levels of investment have meant that broadband deployment is not feasible for some communities. In cases like these, satellite TV still represents a cost-effective and reliable choice for television entertainment.
Satellite TV popularity is more recently on the rise in westernised countries, largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Where streaming viewership understandably rose in line with various stay-at-home orders, as did a shift back toward traditional linear TV viewership. For example, reports noted a 77% increase in day-time TV consumption in the US in 2020, and in the UK the average time spent watching linear TV rose by 58% in the same period.
In a worldwide pandemic, satellite and linear TV stood out due to the ability to facilitate communal experiences when so many people were separated – something we covered in our previous blog about the current state of linear TV. A sense of community being the driving force for satellite TV’s continued consumption can more recently be attributed to post-pandemic events like the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, which has notably gathered viewing figures of 24 million in the UK, the highest viewing figures seen for a non-news related event since 2018.
Is this indicative of a future for satellite TV orientated around live events and cultural happenings? Television has always bought families, friends and communities together. We just can’t see this changing anytime soon.
The world continues to embrace over the top video at different paces. As infrastructure is built, consumer confidence rises and choice increases, adoption will increase. But there are factors on both sides – too many separate OTT platforms can cause confusion, along with expensive monthly plans that drive audiences away. For now, the world continues to view content their way.
Here at PlayBox Technology, we have been building and developing playout software for over 15 years. Playout software ensures that broadcasters and content providers can get their content from anywhere in the world, delivered to you, the audience.
We have customers on both ends of the scale. We understand the benefits that Satellite delivery continue to hold for broadcasters. Equally, we have helped hundreds of our customers to streamline their OTT and streaming workflows with our industry-defining channel in a box.