The way the citizens of the modern world are consuming news and entertainment is changing for the better. Gone are the days of live TV shows and consumption of entertainment via satellite broadcast and cable networks, the new buzzword is a digital video streaming over IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) system and OTT (Over-the-Top) streaming services. The service provided by the new age news and entertainment content streaming over the internet works on a completely different principle and mechanisms and cannot be compared to the traditional broadcasting model. Both IPTV and OTT offers the facility to instantly offer a variety of media content to their subscribers who can watch their preferred content wherever and whenever they want at their convenience. They can get their choice of content either over high-speed data networks or individual Wi-Fi connections, and play it on their choice of smart device like a laptop, tablet or any smartphone.
Modern media and communications platforms generally give both the options of IPTV and OTT to their content consumers or subscribers. The OTT services replace the older Video-on-Demand services offered by traditional media entertainment companies. They have taken advantage of the popularity of internet-based platforms and now offer high-quality on-demand services to their dedicated subscribers. The IPTV player services are similar to the OTT player service as it lets its subscribers watch their favorite TV channels using Internet Protocol over LAN, instead of receiving TV news and entertainment content via satellites and cable. The IPTV system adopters get their content delivered over their internet infrastructure via IPTV middleware whereas subscribers opting for OTT would receive their content over the public internet. IPTV and OTT are fast changing the way we consume media content, with the following trends.
Current IPTV and OTT Platform Trends
The popularity of IPTV lay on the fact that the entire world is going digital, and the only technology that would work with the latest consumer electronic devices connected to the cyber web through broadband networking technologies. Gone are the days of expensive entertainment produced by multi-national media companies- now anyone with a smart device and a decent internet connection can have the same reach as the traditional media content producing organizations. The decreasing cost of digital hardware and the easy availability of media services software has created a vast pool of independent content producers who can take advantage of the various streaming channels at their disposal. The majority of entertainment and even news are fulfilled by smaller and independent media content producers, and they have been encouraged in their endeavor by dedicated fans and subscribers. The trend in media streaming and consumption is propelled by the introduction of Next-Generation Networks.
Now both IPTV system operators and service provider wants their end consumer to stay on top of the latest trends in the nascent digital services industry.
On-Demand Entertainment Everywhere
Mobile Apps on smart devices and mobile phones have changed the business of entertainment as it makes it easy for content creators to stream their entertainment content everywhere, from anywhere in the world. The difference between the old media-entertainment content delivery via satellites and cables, and the new media through IPTV middleware software is that the latter is interactive and can be personalized. This has democratized media content production, as the producers are producing content which their core subscribers want. The content is not decided by multi-national media executives with offices in multi-million dollar offices. Consumers are demanding content and independent producers who have access to new digital technology IPTV systems can easily, with little cost, stream content directly to them. Core subscribers to content delivered through IPTV Middleware streaming software can gain access to their favorite programming through digital video on demand. Consumers who subscribe to on-demand entertainment content anywhere are also willing to pay for any extra features which can open up a new revenue stream for independent media content producers.
Digital Streaming Architecture
The entire trend of IPTV and OTT streaming cannot exist without a robust digital architecture. The popularity of smartphones and devices was facilitated with the parallel development of sturdy digital architecture. IPTV system needs both a streaming services software and a set-top-box (STB) that is used to decode the IP video stream on location, as and when needed. The media content streamed are encoded in digital signals delivered over IPTV Middleware via IP packets which must be digitally encoded by the device at the end consumer’s disposal. Without the vital digital infrastructure, the encoding and decoding of the content, as the source and device, would not have been possible.
Development of IPTV System in Tandem with OTT platforms
Both the technologies are similar, one being more media consumer specific and the other depended on media content producers. The development of the OTT system and OTT players gave a new lease of life to the traditional news and entertainment producers. Now all the major multi-national media content producers can offer their streaming services over the internet through a proprietary over-the-top box bypassing live broadcasting, content via satellite and cable platforms. Like the IPTV content, OTT gives control and distribution rights to major media content producers. OTT services have replaced the traditional cable subscription and video-on-demand (VOD) model through which the major media companies can stream their vast catalog of content and also offer new original content to their customers. The days of the closed, private media network services over individual proprietary equipment like set-top-boxes are over, being replaced by services streamed over the vast public internet.
Ease of Discovery of Content
The development of both the IPTV system and the OTT platform has given a lot of control to the consumer. They can now easily search for any favorite content, and even discover new content produced anywhere in the world. They have through the media streaming services search for any entertainment content, old or new by just searching using a keyword. A media consumer can search content by using program or movie title, name of any actor involved with the project, name of the production house, year of production or any other piece of information. Every media content available on modern digital platforms is tagged for ease of access. The media producers get a lot of data just by analyzing the search data. They can decide if the content they have produced should be given for free, or if the demand for content is very high, they can charge it, creating new revenue streams. Easy search and discovery are a crucial feature that gives the media producers enough data to plan their future media content and provides convenience to the end consumer who can access their favorite content anywhere, on any device of their choice.
Steaming Architecture and Software
The streaming architecture of the IPTV takes care of every type of media content- subscribers can access content from their favorite local TV station, or order VOD and the content provider of not charging for their content can always open up new revenue streams through advertising, all that handled by IPTV Middleware. Subscribers can pay per view of their favorite content and the content producers can bill through the Middleware software. The set-top-box provided handles everything from the decoding of digital content, the generation of data from all the content consumption and even the billing process. The quality of service depends on the quality of the architecture which can vary for IPTV systems and OTT media servers. Only the best producers can invest in quality back-end systems that would give the quality of experience demanded by loyal subscribers. This can create an imbalance and give an advantage to the major content and entertainment producing companies.
Security and Regulations
For long the traditional media producers suffered due to piracy of their content. Movie and other entertainment content could be easily copied into CD’s and sold illegally anywhere. With the introduction of both IPTV services and the OTT platform, the media producers have control over their content, earning them respectable revenue and supporting their anti-piracy efforts. Any content can be consumed without the fear of revenue loss and the end consumers get their content at an affordable price. IPTV and OTT platforms do have to deal with online security threats like hacking and transmission of malware, but since the systems and platforms have a centralized architecture, they can respond faster and efficiently. The cost saved by the absence of pirated content would help then invest in robust security software and features. Content consumers now are even more aware of illegal sharing of expensive entertainment content and would follow the rules and regulations to avoid being fined and face other legal issues.
Pricing of Content
The popularity of IPTV services which could be streamed on various smart devices has drastically got the price of popular content. The producers and streamers can not only earn from producing new content but also earn considerable revenue from their existing catalog of content. They don’t have to depend on offline distributors and retailers to get their content to end consumers. The producers can create a table of content material and sort various media content based on their age and popularity to decide on pricing. Many of the IPTV and OTT platforms have a subscription model for advertisement-free content and offer a lot of free content. The streaming services pricing model can be easily fined tuned to target specific demographics and regions. The pricing strategy creates a win-win model for both the producer and the end consumer, with the content creator satisfies the demand and needs of the subscriber.
Unique Revenue Model
The IPTV system and the OTT player platform now have a choice of revenue streams. They can offer free content to lock in a loyal subscriber base and offer popular content at a nominal cost. The uncertainty of brick and mortar, distribution and retail sales model is eliminated with the direct streaming platforms. The producers can also target their customers with revenue-generating Advertisements when they give their content for free and offer to pay for a subscription for an advertisement free experience. Both models can work, and the producers can plan their production accordingly. The data available using software like IPTV Middleware not only takes care of the billing and client subscriptions but also provides enough data to facilitate content panning for the future. The streaming services have given a boost to advertising, as companies have enough data to target specific regions and demographics. They can reach their core customer with both the content and the right advertised product or service.
Drawbacks of the IPTV and OTT Platform
No system or platform can be perfect, and both the IPTV streaming service and OTT platform has its drawbacks both to the producers and the end consumers. These news and entertainment streaming services are a marked improvement over the content delivered through live TV coverage over Satellite or cable, and better than the physical distribution of CDs and DVDs. But still, content providers have to invest in secure digital Rights Management (DRM) software and services. These security issues can help protect original licensed content but can also annoy some customers who love to share content with family and friends. The best companies try to have a balance between the robust security of content and the satisfaction of their loyal subscribers. The other issues face is the quality of services provided by IPTV systems and OTT players. Since both services depend on constant and high-speed internet, the quality of service cannot always be consistent. Their streaming quality would greatly depend on the bandwidth and quality of the internet provided by the ISPs. That leads to the quality of experience, which is more important when it comes to consuming high-quality entertainment content over the public internet platform. Content consumers expect a certain quality of streaming content- the new smart devices now support high-definition entertainment content- and the lack of quality streaming may dissatisfy some consumers. On-demand streaming must be high-quality streaming too. The content delivered by the IPTV systems and OTT platform is as good as the service of the internet hosting provider.