Study: Streaming quality key to OTT growth

A research study conducted by OTT viewing experience analytics specialist Conviva and independent research and strategy consultancy MTM exploring OTT operational best practices across leading publishers in EMEA and North America has identified a range of practices that could improve the quality of streaming video across the industry, potentially accelerating the overall growth of OTT streaming video.

The study specifically looked into how much time and effort is expended to both discover and fix service delivery issues such as high buffering, low bitrates, and slow video start times that lead to decreased viewing times, session abandonment, and even churn.

“The Internet was not designed to support large scale, high quality video streaming and yet our customers have no choice but to use this medium to deliver video as more consumers move from traditional pay TV services to a wide variety of OTT services,” advised Dr. Hui Zhang, CEO of Conviva. “This study reveals not only the diversity of approaches that leading OTT publishers are utilising today to deliver their service, but also the myriad of opportunities technology providers, like Conviva, and others should understand to help build better streaming services and to make the Internet work for video.”

One of the revealing and unexpected findings from the research study was the realisation that there is no such thing as a typical OTT publisher — the original goal was to find commonalities across publishers to establish economic benchmarks. While the broadcast industry has adopted common standards and practices for delivering content, OTT publishers utilise a variety of approaches to managing video delivery and ensuring viewers receive a high quality of experience (QoE). While no common business model was found, there was resounding agreement amongst those surveyed that one of the most difficult operational tasks is performing root cause analysis of issues such as re-buffering or stream failures. Most respondents also agreed that automation or machine learning would help them with diagnosing the of root cause of any problem.

“We set out to build a business model for the OTT industry to better understand the economics of delivering high quality, error free streaming experiences,” said Nick Thomas, Associate Director at MTM. “Instead, amongst many other interesting findings, we discovered that most OTT publishers have very unique policies and procedures for operating their service and dealing with delivery issues.”

This research study has uncovered the incredible opportunity to establish standards in running a successful OTT business. Industry trade groups, such as the Streaming Video Alliance (SVA), should consider establishing industry-wide agreed standards about what constitutes a high-quality streaming video experience in a way that consumers can understand and publishers can benchmark themselves against. Furthermore, there is an opportunity for OTT publishers to share knowledge and best practices with their industry peers related to operating, alerting, and issue resolution. This could improve the quality of streaming video across the industry, potentially accelerating the overall growth of OTT streaming video.

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