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How can traditional broadcasters go OTT?

September 30, 2015

Jeremy Dujardin   

Video transmission industry expert

At the recent IBC 2015, it was apparent more than ever that Over the Top (OTT) video delivery is a matter of when not if, and the broadcasters who continue to ignore using the Internet to deliver content will soon be left behind.

Deciding to go down the OTT road is one thing. The next, and bigger question, is how can traditional broadcasters actually make it happen when the risk of failure is high and the audience so unforgiving? Getting content ready for OTT takes careful planning, and in this post I want to share my advice for how to get it right.

The two most important aspects of successful OTT are content preparation and distribution.  On the preparation side, a variety of resolutions are required for OTT services to work across a number of different devices. Broadcasters will need to anticipate their audiences viewing content on devices of varying levels of capability, and they will have varying levels of internet connectivity. Given these demands, preparing content for delivery and distributing it to CDNs is a workload best suited for public cloud computing rather than traditional on-premises networks.

The next major consideration is that moving around that many different versions of each content source is bandwidth intensive. Cloud providers, with more bandwidth available than anyone else, are a natural fit for this. Additionally, public cloud providers offer compute resources that can be consumed on an as-needed basis. Put the pieces together and the business rational for using public cloud services for OTT content should be clear.

In an ideal scenario using the cloud, content providers send a single, high resolution master to a service set up for the specific demands of OTT distribution. The master is transcoded into the numerous formats and resolutions required, and the cloud provider distributes the many variations to the CDNs, getting the right version of the content to the consumer.

To make this ideal scenario a reality, it is crucial to choose the right cloud provider. Working with a generic provider requires significant technical expertise on the part of the broadcaster to set up and maintain all the pieces of the puzzle. Remember these are pieces that are in constant motion thanks to the rapid iteration and evolution of devices, protocols, codecs and CDNs.

There are now specialist cloud providers who are offering vertically integrated solutions that include the infrastructure, software, services, expertise and experience that the generic public cloud providers can’t provide, making it easier than ever for traditional broadcasters to take the leap to OTT. Taking it a step further, the telecommunications companies who offer this have the added advantage of owning and operating the infrastructure supporting the cloud services which enables them to easily adapt as bandwidth and data center demands increase.

The wrong choice can lead to nightmarish projects with rapidly exploding complexity, cost and, ultimately and worst of all, a poor viewing experience for audiences. The right public cloud and CDN partners can make OTT delivery simple and cost effective by taking care of both content preparation and distribution, enabling even the most traditional of broadcasters to go OTT.

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