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Is This The Future of OTT?


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The Over-The-Top (OTT) video business seems poised to quickly ascend to the top of the original content game. This seeming hybrid between digital video and television has been slowly but surely gaining ground in the last year or so. OTT is the delivery of visual content, both television and film, via the world wide web which also includes the subscription service based mini industry of subscription video on demand (SVOD).

Prior to last year, the OTT business seemed to be quietly strolling along trying to establish itself outside the realm of the social media platforms. During 2016, however, the concept began to make great leaps toward becoming a more mature business as well financed players jumped in both feet as the competition caused some immediate and profound growth. The major OTT players were no longer strolling; the had begun to run.

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Up until recently, the cable providers were content to continue with their successful model of selling off specific channel bundles for a price. Even the major networks and media companies ran that model as they found profit in putting in rarely watched channels in with their most popular offerings. This all seemed to be working rather well until Netflix moved into the neighborhood. What ended up happening is that the networks, and other providers, while making a profit in licensing it programs to Netflix, ended up seeing most viewers preferring to watch the shows at Netflix and other rivals like Hulu.

Now, Netflix has more subscribers than HBO and some serious players are looking to grab some serious market share. The streaming video debate begins with a proverbial big four: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Amazon. Recent research released by the marketing research company, eMarketer, found that YouTube leads them all with a whopping 95.3% of all OTT viewers. It is followed by Netflix with 60%, Amazon with 36% and Hulu with 31.4% of the OTT audience.

These are the four OTT players that have expanded their reach to included just about every taste imaginable when it comes to entertainment. When you throw in the lot of them starting, and continuing, to develop their own original content, then you pretty much have a closed out market. It is, now, almost impossible for a new player to try and shove their way into OTT.

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Viewers have begun to move away from both conventional cable as well as the established networks as subscription rates for all four of the major players continues to climb. CBS All-Access, Showtime and HBO have begun to make a hard push as they all hover in the one million subscriber range. While sounding rather impressive, it is important to note that Netflix has 92 million subscribers worldwide.

So, where else may things be headed? Original programming will definitely continue to heat up and many analysts are talking about the other three watching their backs as Amazon begins to make some serious moves in the near future. They, too, are talking original content and the company recently lured the former director of the Tribeca Film Festival to head up its new foray into virtual reality. While the pay-TV business has suddenly become extremely crowded in the past year or two, OTT looks to consolidate with the big four battling it out for supremacy with the money, branding and resources that few other contenders can have or could afford.

Kevin Sawyer

Kevin Sawyer

Mr. Sawyer is a freelance writer, editor and journalist from Tampa. He has written thousands of articles for hundreds of magazines and news sites on countless topics including science, the media and technology. He is also the author of many white papers, special reports and ebooks covering a wide range of subjects.
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