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OTT players have many content, technical challenges to overcome: Akamai's Dev Gupta

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MUMBAI: More and more ‘OTT players’ are entering India’s fast churning online video ecosystem in a bid to make something out of the double digit growth rates in digital ads in India. If one were to go by industry estimates some thirty odd new digital video services will launch in this market by the next financial year. Those jumping the gun to make fast money in all this disruption fail to realise the challenges that this new media poses in the long run.

How will all these players co exist and be self-sustaining without a well defined USP when there is only a limited space for apps in smart devices? Which ones will get loyal users and which one will be forgotten in a pile of uninstalled apps?

The key to having an edge over the rest out there is to see the larger picture and build an ecosystem around content, network and technology -- something that technology based companies such as LeEco have realised and already implementing through their massive web of CDNs or Content Delivery Networks. While big players have the financial and technological backbone to support CDNs, the emerging players thus turn to media solutions providers such as Akamai to build this ecosystem for them.

Speaking at indiatelevision.com initiative ‘Vidnet 2016', Akamai’s global VP for Media Solutions Services, Dev Gupta, laid down the fundamentals of what an aspiring or existing OTT player must heed to if it planned to survive in the market till when the space becomes revenue generating.

Global trends such as growing audience size, longer watch hours spent on online videos, and preference for higher bit rate videos or inclination towards high quality streaming point towards the fact that the consumer is not only giving significant time to digital videos but also is picky about the content and how it is served to him or her, pointed out Gupta.

“Add to that the growing number of connected devices options in the market, and the OTT player has already found itself challenged to deliver the right type of content for the right type of device and operating system, in the right format. Easier said than done,” Gupta reiterates.

Gupta insisted it is essential for each player to get the basics right to ensure a seamless service for the end user. ‘It starts with securing the content for the consumers which includes getting the rights and licenses of the content in place, ensuring your distribution channels be it for offline or online viewing and theft proofing the entire content flow from content producer to the audience from end to end,” he stated.

The next important step in ensuring a profitable future in this business is to position oneself as a trustworthy brand that includes protecting the audience’s privacy and their payment information. “If you have content sitting in your servers or clouds, without a doubt there will be people trying to hack into it. Similarly, if you have databases with credit card information of millions of customers, who have put faith in your service by sharing delicate information with you, it needs to be protected as dearly as the content,” Gupta advised.

Having a clear brand strategy in communication is also a must, according to Gupta.

Players with AVOD business model have to especially make sure the advertisement do not dilute the experience of the content. Gupta further added that every player must be ready to handle multiple fold challenges, including different operating systems, devices and formats.

Gupta aptly concluded with a final advice: be nimble.

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