EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS by Bill Mobley
Over-the-top video has come a long way. I know, because I’ve been in the business from the start. As the founder of MegaMedia Networks, my company pioneered the no-download on-page web video, delivering over 800,000 point to point streams a day, almost a decade before YouTube or Netflix would do the same. Today, web video is bigger than ever. In fact, just about everything is available online. In 2013, KPMG did a study that revealed over 70% of the top box office movies and over 87% of the year’s top television titles were all available online in one form or another. For the top movies and TV shows from the year prior to the study, those percentages were 100% and 96%. The bottom line is this: everything that you can watch with a pay-TV subscription is or will be available to watch on the Internet within a year or less.
Streaming media is superseding linear cable and satellite TV delivery systems, present tense, and these numbers make that clear. These statistics are two years old, and it was happening then. And anyone who’s been following knows that that trend towards web-based video has only accelerated since then. Cord-cutting has exploded, as the MSOs hemorrhage video subscribers. In fact, there’s only one reason why every household in the country isn’t getting their TV from the web: right now it’s a cumbersome experience to do so.
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and even more familiar names in the media industry like CBS and HBO all have streaming media products, and there are hundreds more; too many to be listed, with more joining the fray every month. What you end up with is gazillions of unique offerings. While they all have great libraries of content, they’re currently siloed, forcing consumers to go to each one individually: log in to each one, search each one, manage and pay for each one. It’s a time consuming hassle that consumers just don’t have time for. And because these video providers are direct competitors, they are not collectively about to make it any easier on their mutual customers. It’s simply not in their interest to direct you to content that you might want to watch, and that surely exists out there somewhere, if it isn’t in their own library. That’s precisely the problem. But while you can’t really blame a company for not directing their own users to the competition, this current state of affairs creates an entirely new opportunity in the OTT space that often goes unnoticed.
What consumers want and need is, believe it or not, exactly what these content providers want and need as well: impartial cross-platform content discovery. In other words, a virtual MSO. A single agnostic platform that can bring content from competing online video sources together, the same way that a cable TV subscription makes it easy for consumers to enjoy content from multiple competing cable and broadcast networks. The media buzzes about every new SVOD player that jumps into an increasingly crowded space, but they’re missing an entire half of the equation that ultimately defines the future landscape of the television industry: the business not of selling access to content, but of organizing the existing pieces of content and content sources, and thereby making over-the-top TV a viable option for mainstream consumers.
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