The global OTT market is expected to grow to $158.4 billion by 2025, according to the latest report from MarketResearch.com. With the proliferation of OTT video, service providers have massive opportunities for monetizing content. Realizing such opportunities without offering a high quality of experience (QoE) to the end users, however, is futile.
Service providers must ensure that video and audio content is technically sound in order to be successful in the OTT environment. The stakes are especially high for live events, which command a higher number of viewers and advertising revenue. This article will explain why it’s important to deliver an exceptional QoE for video streaming services, how broadcasters can successfully transition to OTT service delivery, and what service providers should look for in Quality Control (QC) and monitoring tools to stay ahead in the OTT race.
Why Ensuring High Quality for OTT is Crucial
Live events have become a prime revenue generator for OTT service providers. The challenge with delivering live video streams is that there absolutely cannot be any disruptions, delays, or quality issues. Viewers expect the best QoE, especially when it comes to paid subscriptions. The expectations are even higher for live events.
Moreover, when telecasting a live event, service providers don’t have the luxury of time. If quality issues occur during a key moment of a soccer tournament, for example, viewers will miss seeing the winning goal unless real-time action is taken. With VOD content, there is time to fix to issue so that the content streams flawlessly.
Given how competitive the television market has become, service providers that do not deliver a high QoE will have a hard time retaining subscribers. Today’s viewers are not especially loyal to any certain service, and they have proven that through cord cutting. About 50 million people are estimated to drop their cable or satellite TV subscriptions by 2021, according to eMarketer research.
While cord cutting opens up revenue opportunities in the OTT market, monitoring QoE is critical. With a solid service assurance strategy, service providers can ensure viewers are happy and gain meaningful insights about what is being watched, peak viewing times, average bitrates delivered, and more, to boost monetization.
Transitioning to the OTT World
To launch an OTT offering, service providers have to invest in an architecture for video streaming. Unlike traditional broadcast delivery, which is well established, OTT technologies are evolving. This makes OTT service delivery much more complex.
Standardized formats are in place for traditional video delivery, compared with the fragmentation that exists in the OTT world. Service providers must deliver OTT offerings to a wide range of devices with multiple screen sizes, DRMs, and delivery formats, including HLS, DASH, MSS, and HDS. Preparing OTT content is tedious and complex, and a large volume of files are created, which means there are a lot of files to manage and possible errors.
Since OTT content is delivered over unmanaged internet networks, there is no control over the last mile of delivery. Content protection becomes is crucial, as all of the data is flowing over a public network. OTT services providers must partner with multiple stakeholders involved in the delivery chain, including CDNs and ISPs, to identify and resolve quality of service issues.
These issues can be resolved and OTT delivery can be improved with the proper set of QC and monitoring tools.
OTT QC and Monitoring Checklist
Having a solid service assurance strategy is important for ensuring that live OTT service delivery, in particular, is unhindered and uninterrupted. Service providers need insightful QC and OTT monitoring solutions that can detect where the problem is happening, in real time, and provide an alert with what kind of corrective action needs to be taken.
QC and monitoring should take place at multiple points during content preparation as well as during content delivery. Many solutions on the market only monitor OTT services at the CDN edge or end device or transport stream level. Or they can only monitor live streams, not VOD, or vice versa. Service providers need a QC and monitoring solution that is end-to-end, providing a centralized view of the entire content chain and OTT infrastructure from source to destination. Problems that occur in the content preparation phase need to be addressed early on or they will carry through the entire delivery chain.
End-to-end Centralized QC & Monitoring
The QC solution should perform a comprehensive range of checks, from baseband quality to compression artifacts, file integrity, standards compliance, and ABR compliance. Additionally, the QC solution must support a large volume of content.
The QC and monitoring solution must offer seamless integration with leading encryption technologies, including Apple FairPlay, Google Widevine, and Microsoft PlayReady.
Finally, service providers should choose and OTT QC and monitoring solution that is software-based and cloud deployable. A software solution will enable service providers to keep pace with the technology changes and ensure quick upgrades. OTT solutions that can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises provide enhanced efficiency and flexibility for any workflow.
Video streaming is not just a trend. OTT video consumption continues to grow every year around the globe, and there is a substantial amount of revenue up for grabs for television service providers. To build a strong OTT business, service providers have to ensure flawless video quality on a wide gamut of devices, which can be a tricky endeavor given that OTT technologies are complex and still maturing.
Nevertheless, today’s viewers expect the same quality for OTT, including live events, as they do for traditional broadcast. With end-to-end, software-based QC and monitoring solutions that provide a centralized view of OTT operations, service providers can deliver the best QoE for live and VOD content.