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Building an OTT Platform: No Single Solution Fits Everyone

The OTT revolution is taking off at lightening speed. Content owners like the NBA and NFL, networks like BBC and HBO, and full-on content aggregators like DIRECTV are all trying to decide how they’ll leverage the content that they license or create. Distributing direct to the consumer via video over the top presents an opportunity for these content owners to generate additional revenue streams while connecting with their audience in an exciting new way. Vindicia has been working with a number of content owners as they make the journey and deploy a full OTT solution.

What is interesting to me is to watch the approach our clients take to building out the actual solution. In some cases, the content owners are extremely technical. At least one of our clients has built out their own video player and video content management platform. Although you need to have a lot of engineering talent to pull that off, you’ll end up with a platform that exactly matches your specifications. Your fate is literally in your own hands if you go this route.  Other clients have gone more for the best-of-breed solution, and in some cases are relying on outside vendors not just for the platform software, but also for the integration work. I am no longer surprised to meet clients who are outsourcing the entire integration process, from the platform-to-platform work, right down to the integration to their own in-house financial systems.

I have to confess that this “all outsourced” approach makes me a bit uneasy. As a SaaS provider, we have a very long-term relationship with our clients. Even in the most successful implementation, the first release isn’t the last time you’ll touch the software.  Product offerings continue to evolve, and with that evolution comes a new wave of requirements. Sometimes that can be handled directly from a GUI (like creating new pricing plans). Other times, lower-level work needs to be done. At Vindicia, we pride ourselves on the notion that our clients can be self-sufficient.  We’ve had clients who launch completely new offerings, add new payment methods, and restructure their entire go-to-market strategy, all without having to request any professional services work. However, they’re able to do that because they have a good working knowledge of the solution architecture. They’ve gotten their hands dirty during the initial implementation, and they understand how the systems all work together. My big concern with clients who outsource the complete development is that they may become dependent on outsiders for every change to their business. If they sign a new content deal, they should be able to deploy that without coming back to Vindicia or their OVP vendor to make that content available to their audience. Likewise, as their financial reporting needs change, they don’t want to pay an integrator to come back and update the reports.

The analogy here is to home ownership. Some folks are completely comfortable living in a home they own but calling a professional plumber or electrician when any issues arise. A lot of folks in high-rise apartments in Manhattan are quite used to that model. Others may decide that they want to be more hands on, and they’ll tackle routine maintenance or even the occasional bathroom remodel on their own. In the end, there’s no one solution that fits everyone. But as you’re getting ready to invest in that new property, it’s important to make sure you’ve thought through how you’ll keep it a “happy home” as your needs evolve in the future. Understanding what you’ll be able to do on your own (and what will require outside help) is key in planning your new OTT platform.

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