While there has certainly not been a shortage of news speaking to the virtues of over-the-top (OTT) content, the fact remains that such services are still relatively new and, as such, will undoubtedly experience growing pains.
As more time passes, we can expect that these kinks will be ironed out. But before this happens, it seems likely that the true promise of OTT won’t be realized as many customers hesitate to cut their cords or complement their existing television services due to perceived inadequacies of such services.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three of the top challenges facing OTT providers and what needs to happen to rectify them:
- Fragmentation. Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, Xbox One, Netflix… the OTT market is littered with all sorts of providers and platforms, many of which are interoperable with one another for one reason or another. Here’s an example: As it stands now, HBO GO is currently only available to customers who have cable subscriptions as a TV Everywhere option. Even though HBO GO was made available on Roku players in 2011, customers of the country’s biggest cable company, Comcast, are still unable to load the service on their streaming devices for whatever reason. It does work on other devices, but that news doesn’t do much to help the owners of the 10 million Roku devices in America. While there have been rumblings about HBO offering a purely OTT service in the near future, this example illustrates the kinds of pervasive problems in the OTT ecosystem. With so many different players and platforms, industry juggernauts need to keep in mind that OTT services should exist primarily to enhance their customers’ experiences—not detract from them.
- Consumer behavior. Many Americans, especially those who are older, have developed routines when it comes to their television behavior. Maybe they’ve not yet mastered their ability to use newer technology like Roku players, or maybe they have their favorite shows set in stone and don’t want to look for substitute offerings. Behavior can’t be changed overnight. But recent research indicates that the OTT footprint will double from 2013 to 2014, growing to 47 million devices. As a result, it’s only a matter of time before that consumer behavior is changed and higher rates of adoption occur.
- Infrastructure. While it might not be a big deal in the major cities and the surrounding suburbs, there is still a substantial number of Americans who live in the country’s more rural areas. According to recent census data, nearly 60 million Americans—or 19.3 percent—live in these kinds of areas, many of which lack the infrastructure necessary to create an optimal OTT experience. In order to ensure that all Americans can enjoy streamed OTT content seamlessly, providers need to make sure that high-speed connections and increased bandwidth are available to customers throughout the country.
The OTT ecosystem is growing, but there are still a few things that have to be done before providers will become even more dominating forces in the television industry. But those changes will take place in the near future, meaning the future of the OTT market is more exciting than ever.