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Content Providers on the Future of OTT, IOT and High-Stakes Markets

From DirectTV’s lucrative sports package to HBO’s popular Game of Thrones series, Over the Top (OTT) and streaming content has taken over consumers’ multiple screens and wearable devices. And as the satellite industry strives to meet these demands — over land, air, and sea — delivering the right content at the right time is becoming a higher-stakes business.

In a conversational panel Monday afternoon titled “Building the Ultimate Entertainment Package: Content Consolidation in the IOT, OTT Ecosystem” at the SATELLITE 2018 Conference & Exhibition, panelists debated everything from the market potential of residential satellite service providers like DirectTV, to the benefits of buying movie scripts to offer the most desirable content to air travelers.

When moderator Amy Maclean, editorial director of Cablefax a Via Satellite sister publication, asked whether OTT will replace traditional broadcast television, each panelist offered a different perspective.

Longtime television industry executive William Fisher, now the CEO of YuVue and advisor at Wipro Technologies, said one of the most defining characteristics for today’s market — which he dubbed “Satellite 3.0” — is audience fragmentation.

“Satellite, for better or worse, has embraced the OTT skinny bundle, low-margin, low-cost thing with mixed results,” said Fisher, before noting that while SlingTV has grown, the traditional satellite dish market has declined precipitously. However, satellite content providers may see an expansion of opportunities in the not-so-distance future, if Comcast’s recent $31 billion bid for the British satellite broadcaster Sky is any indication.

Mike Miller, vice president of communications and marketing for Global Eagle, which delivers content to airlines, yachts, and other markets, said that being able to deliver content effectively, regardless of the device or location, is key.

“We are device agnostic and bandwidth delivery agnostic,” said Miller. “There’s a constellation of LEO and MEO satellites that are going to change the game. We have to look at what Google, YouTube, and Amazon are going to spend money on. YouTube is very, very powerful … and could shift the marketplace if they wanted. We’re really in the infancy in terms of knowing who’s the winner and the loser yet.”

Eddie Vaca, founder and CEO of AmpLive, which operates a distribution platform for live streamed broadcasts, agreed. “I don’t see myself putting a dish on my house,” he said. “You’ll start seeing more of these things, where people will subscribe to a service and watch on the device they want to.”

Panelists suggested that it’s so hard to predict which content provider will be successful because consumer demands are always shifting, and no one provider can own exclusive rights to everything indefinitely, whether it’s an NFL Ticket-like package or a hit TV show.

When asked during the first of three of the session’s interactive polls — whereupon audience members could use their mobile devices to weigh in on multiple-choice questions posed during the session — what content is most important for OTT services, 39 percent said originals, 39 percent said acquired programming and 17 percent said sports. But the more exclusive access you can offer above competitors, the better, panelists agreed.

“We invested in the script for La La Land so we had exclusive rights and could go to airlines and say, “look, we can give you this right away,” said Miller. “There is an advantage to having the best content that you can deliver quickly.”

However, Miller said there are a number of challenges content providers are still working through. “We pride ourselves on having the most rights … delivering a lot of content on flights to Bali and India,” said Miller. “Many content providers will have to shut off outside of the United States because they don’t have the rights to show [content] outside of the United States. But it’s not an easy process and we have a dozen lawyers to attest to that.”

There are also vast, untapped opportunities with the Internet of Things (IOT), to deliver content on wearable devices and such, said Vaca. “My Apple watch is constantly pushing me updates. These are essentially becoming hubs for everything that is important to us,” he said. “That’s the future, these smart devices that know what we want.” VS