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OTT Back to Basics by Lorna Garrett G oing “over the top” opens up boundless opportunities. Just make sure you work with someone who can help you over the potential pitfalls Not that long ago, if asked to envisage a family watching television, you probably would have pictured Mum and Dad seated on the sofa, while a couple of children lay sprawled on a rug, heads supported by their arms. All would have been in the same room, looking at the same television, watching the same programme only available from one specific broadcaster. Now picture that same family today. Dad and daughter are watching football on TV while listening on Dad’s laptop to live fan commentary about the same game. Mum has her favourite movie playing on her tablet, while the son is watching a concert being streamed live to his mobile phone. You might say it’s all gone over the top … and you’d be right. The vast choice available to viewers today might seem a bit excessive to some, but that’s not what’s meant by over the top now. The tech industry uses “over-the-top”— or OTT — in a much more literal sense, and even that definition has evolved over recent times. OTT now refers to anything carried over the Internet (such as video and television) that is not part of a provider’s own service. As a viewer, you can watch other offerings on any device you have connected up to the Internet: 50 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 84 DECEMBER 2013 your laptop, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, or even a gaming console, such as an Xbox One. It can be delivered from the provider — who could be the original creator — straight to you the viewer. In other words, it is not coming from your Internet service provider. All those devices available to viewers have in turn meant they use them to watch what they want, when and where they want. If you’re in the media industry, this demand creates both opportunities and issues for you. Traditional broadcasters can use OTT to enhance what they have to offer to customers. For example, the UK’s Channel 4, in a joint venture with Germany’s Bauer Media, launched the Box TV service, offering music television programming free over the Internet. OTT can also open up a completely new way to generate revenue, such as Video- on-Demand (select what you want to watch), Catch-up TV (watch a show you missed), and interactive applications (such as online shopping). However, traditional broadcasters aren’t the only ones taking advantage of what OTT has to offer. Social networks and content creators themselves are using OTT for additional opportunities to monetise their content. In other words, OTT means almost anyone can attempt to offer an OTT service. The opportunities are boundless. So what do you need to be able to offer a high-quality, reliable OTT service that viewers will want to watch? Well besides good content, you have to consider five steps to get that content to your viewers: