OTT for the Film Industry

OTT for the Film Industry

Traditionally, making movies has been separated from the business of showing them to the public. Producers of films make deals with distributors, who negotiate with cinema chains, who market the movies to their local audiences. Revenues pass back up the chain, and inevitably every person along the line takes a cut.

It is hard to see how that process can be trimmed for theatrical release. But revenues increasingly come from viewing in the home, not in the theatre. We have all grown comfortable with finding what we want on the internet, and – more or less by magic – it arriving on our screens. Can this provide a new route to monetisation of movie content: one which perhaps reduces the steps between creator and audience?

Firstly: what is OTT?

The answer lies in OTT: over the top media. That is the blanket name for video content which is delivered over the internet. It can be video on demand (VoD) or it can be streamed like a television channel. Video on demand can be advertising-funded (AVoD), by subscription (SVoD), or pay-per-view (transactional or TVoD).

The obvious example is YouTube, which is now unimaginably big. Today, around 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Yes, those units are the right way around: 500 hours every minute of every day.

But there is a huge difference between much of the content on YouTube, which is amateur content published for fun or for very limited return and a sound business plan for a maker of movies. The good news is that returns are already significant and continue to grow.

OTT and film

According to analysts Digital TV Research, across the world OTT revenues from episodics and movies will reach $243 billion by 2028. And the growing trend is for these to be sales direct from producers to consumers. Major studios like Disney and Paramount have high profile services, for example.

Paramount+ added five million new subscribers in the second quarter of 2022. Disney+ added 14.4 million global members in the third quarter, to reach 152.1 million paid subscribers. That beat Wall Street forecasts and helped The Walt Disney Company to grow overall revenues by 26% to $21.5 billion.

Disney, Paramount and the other big players have the resources to develop the technology required for an OTT service. The good news is that this technology is available to any size of producer with any sort of company, at a price point which can flex according to the level of traffic.

Creating an OTT platform: what you’ll need

What are the technical requirements? You obviously need to store your movies in a form in which they can be delivered over the internet. That content must be protected, while it is in your storage system and when it is delivered to the consumer, so that only authorised people can see it. This is called asset management, because the intellectual property in your movies are your business assets, and they must be secured so your income is maximised.

Here are a few more things to consider when setting up your own OTT streaming platform:

User interface

You need a user interface. Consumers who want to watch your movies need to be able to see readily what you have available, make their selection and have it delivered to them. You will want to register all your users and potential users so that you ensure you collect their fees.

Audience data and marketing

But you are also building a new asset here: information on people who are interested in what you produce. You can market direct to them, perhaps sending emails around new releases. You can also offer them related merchandise, building new revenue streams. If your service is to be partly or fully funded by advertising, you can use this information to build up a profile of your subscribers: advertisers will be much more keen to buy space if they know precisely who is going to see their commercials.

Scheduling and live streaming

If you are offering some streamed content – events shown at a specific time, like a television channel – then you will need a scheduling and playout system. You will probably want to add graphics sequences at the beginning and end of content delivered, as well as bracketing commercial breaks, so you will need some means of inserting dynamic branding and graphic sequences.

How we can help

The good news is that you need not be put off by this list of functionality you need to get started. PlayBox Technology, which has been delivering content delivery systems for broadcasters and media enterprises for close to 20 years, has a complete OTT platform which includes everything you need.

If your interest is in making movies and the idea of bringing in a lot of new technology is alien to you, then be reassured that all of this can exist in the cloud. You need nothing more than a regular computer connected to the internet to manage and supervise the system. Everything else happens in a remote, but very secure, computing environment where it will always work and your precious assets will always be safe.

Running the service is designed to be simple and intuitive, requiring no engineering skills or specialist knowledge. You set up templates to give it your look and feel, determine what your offer is and what the income is, and beyond that the whole thing runs completely automatically, 24/7.

As your subscriber base and the amount of content grows, so the cloud storage and processing grows in parallel. You pay for the resources you use: start small and pay small, and as your service becomes more successful, so the platform expands to support it.

Most important, the revenue generated comes direct to you. You decide how to monetise your content, on your own terms, by developing a relationship direct with the people who enjoy your movies.