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Service providers should see OTT as a revenue opportunity by Haggai Barel, Deputy-CEO, Viaccess-Orca T oday’s content service providers can use over- the-top (OTT) content to enhance the viewing experience for their subscribers and generate revenue for their service offerings. To accomplish this, however, service providers must overcome the initial - and justified - belief that OTT is a threat that must be blocked and instead follow the steps outlined in this article to make OTT an important, revenue- generating part of a service package. The first thing to understand is that the public wants OTT and almost universally accesses it via the broadband networks content service providers offer. Most service providers have already begun to take the steps to more fully accommodate customers who want to enjoy non- traditional video consumption along with traditional pay TV services. To successfully transition, however, service providers must be assured that OTT will serve as a complement, not a competitor. The phases of viewer engagement To begin the process of incorporating OTT as a part of an overall service package, content service providers must accept that their customers will go outside the traditional model to get it. It is therefore better to make OTT content a part of an existing video services package with which subscribers are already comfortable. At Viaccess-Orca, we call this vision the “engagement model” and slice it into multiple layers that service providers can follow to comfortably offer multi-screen services that include OTT as a revenue-generating part of their service delivery package. The first layer of the process is protection. Content owners demand 66 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 84 DECEMBER 2013 Linking engagement and revenue that their premium content is protected. CAS/DRM and anti-piracy measures are essential in making certain that premium content remains protected even in an environment where a greater swath of content is open to all. The second layer is interactivity. The service provider can use what already exists on today’s service platform - program guides, PVR capabilities, VOD, catch-up and other features - as the foundation for achieving the ultimate engagement with users. The third layer is personalization. The service provider can enhance its value by tailoring a content package for an individual subscriber by using content discovery and recommendation tools. This process starts by understanding the subscriber based on demonstrated viewing habits, using non-personal algorithms that create semantic connections between content items and then, using social media and other Internet sources, to build a content package that delivers what subscribers want and, even more importantly, what they might want. The final engagement layer is immersion. An immersed viewer is bathed in the peripherals that surround that screen: the social media influences of friends and family; the multiple sources of background information that enhance the content (before, during and after watching), and finally, the ability to interactively control the content. This engagement layer can be implemented by using next-generation metadata to produce an endless number of ‘digital magazines’, with information personalized for the tastes and preferences of the end user. Combined, these multiple layers deliver an enhanced viewing experience that can be extended across multiple screens, using the strengths of each screen and device to create a unique viewing experience. Of course, no engagement model succeeds if it doesn’t generate revenue. Satisfying the consumer is requisite but it’s not free. Viaccess-Orca can use real-world examples to demonstrate how each layer presents a number of business models to create revenue streams. As an example, Orange Spain’s TV Everywhere service has allowed the service provider to deliver a quad play package that includes multi-screen for an additional charge of 10 Euros a month. Existing Orange subscribers can upgrade to the new package - creating enhanced revenues - and new subscribers are enticed with personalized content across any device, providing a fresh/new source of revenue for Orange Spain. Another revenue stream can be tapped when service providers use digital magazines to expose viewers to other material within their own or, importantly, a content partner’s catalogue of content. It is important to understand that the engaged multi-screen consumer can no longer be wedged within a walled garden. While some premium content can and should remain off-limits, a more open approach to content provisioning best serves today’s engaged consumers. OTT is not competition; it’s an opportunity to collaborate. OTT opens the door for new revenue opportunities and partnerships. Viaccess-Orca has introduced models for service providers to build content awareness, take advantage of branding opportunities via t-commerce and advertising, and, overall, more fully realize the enhanced relationship with today’s multi-screen consumer.