Can OTT services thrive on the public internet?

25th Nov 2017
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To thrive in the bedlam of public internet infrastructure, the present need for OTT services is not just to deliver superior content, but also to deliver it more effectively.

Content, they say, is the king – a king that builds a massive empire of an audience, sprawling over an extensive landmass. With the rise of over-the-top (OTT) platforms, it’s easier to reach out to your viewer base, regardless of whether they are comfortably seated on a couch, at their workplaces, or on the go. The one-click-to-watch experience of OTT platforms has simply taken the viewing experience to another level of consumer convenience and satisfaction. But can OTT services really thrive in the bedlam of public internet infrastructure, even if we ignore other critical factors at play? This could well be the question of the hour.

Saving the empire: the growing need for a strong content delivery network

Do you know that 42 percent of binge watchers give up on a series after having a bad streaming experience – and 50 percent of them never return? What’s more, nearly 80 percent of digital viewers leave instantly if an episode is not quick to load (giving a window of five seconds) or doesn’t offer the desired quality, and only 11 percent of them bother to pick another episode. Given such alarming market insights, the present need is not just to deliver superior content, but also to deliver it more effectively.

Expanding your digital presence globally requires the right infrastructure. Servers need to be placed both at the origin as well as close to the end-destination. Since the services of OTT platforms are available all across the globe, it presses on the need to have an effective network of servers on a global level. This is precisely where content delivery network (CDNs) come into the picture. They enhance an OTT platform’s global service penetration and keep the operational costs at the bare minimum. Moreover, this is done while providing more flexibility in terms of scaling operations.

To add to the complexity, viewers demand a seamless experience on all internet-connected devices. Now, an ideal situation for content delivery would be if your entire user base had a similar set of conditions, i.e. similar network connection, same device, same browser, and located in the same region. But as we all know, this is hardly ever the case.

The need of the hour is to extend an undiluted browsing experience to the end-user without any of these factors hampering service quality.

CDNs ensure that content is readily available in all formats across all locations through transmuxing — the process of changing the content format while retaining the quality — so that different devices can receive content in a customised, optimal fashion. A few CDNs can even detect the prevailing network conditions, device, as well as the platform being used by a particular user and provide a broadcast quality experience under those specific constraints. CDNs can go one step farther and also bypass the public internet, which is prone to network congestions, through their private network leveraging fiber optics substructure.

Such networks further help in deriving critical insights to better cater to the market. They collect highly enriched, user-centric information for data analytics along with detailed data consumption reports. This data can also be integrated with Media Research and Broadcast Data Systems such as Nielsen, comScore, Omniture, and others. A few CDN players, in addition, preserve advertising analytics with no additional overhead expenditure. This enables OTT players to make informed business decisions to more efficiently engage their viewer base, unlocking new avenues to tap into prevailing market opportunities

And how can an empire last without an army and essential support system? CDNs form an advanced layer of end-to-end security through digital rights management (DRM) based encryption, tokenisation to authorise partner access, geo-fencing for geographical access restriction, and DDoS protection to counter service disruption due to cyberattacks. On top of it, they provide end-to-end service support to OTT players to address any technical issue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. It can therefore be said that efficient CDNs can really hold the fort for OTT services, serving as a veritable foundation to support their advent in the burgeoning digital landscape.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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