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The Era of OTT and How it is Thriving on the Cloud

Over the top (OTT) players including the big guns, such as Netflix and Hotstar, have gained high traction in recent years, with India having a little over 27 OTT platforms. One reason why the industry players are more confident about OTT services is the ease in getting it started and lucrativeness of the market. Backed by cheap data and ever falling device prices, consumers are cutting the chord and the infrastructure to host and stream content is falling too, thanks to Cloud. 

The cloud technology offered by the AWS and other leading players is a major fix for OTT players in terms of IT infrastructure needs. The cloud technology creates an efficient opportunity for organizations to scale their IT requirements on a pay as you use model. It also helps collect user preferences and data required for training ML models, which power the recommendation engines to customize the feed based on user persona. The cloud also allows OTT brands to unify their workflow and automate a case such as notifications.

OTT players that extend beyond streaming include web telephony like Skype, messaging services like WhatsApp, and so on. As they all operate at scale, having an IT infrastructure that can auto-scale based on user activity is imperative and cloud makes a perfect fit here. For example, Apple’s software services suite – Apple Music and iCloud – runs on AWS.

Consumers are Binging on OTT Content

Cord-cutting, a term for people ditching cable or linear TV is an emerging trend. People of all age groups are adopting multiple devices to stream media. Users are spending more time online, and all the reports point that the number will only increase in the foreseeable future. We are witnessing a paradigm shift in the way the content – video, audio, and text – is consumed by the users. Users will now have full control over the content, provided with the offerings of the cloud technology. The cloud technology has given broadcasters a tremendous opportunity to reach more people and boost revenues.

A recent example of IPL elucidates the trend. Over 15 million people were concurrently watching IPL finals on Hotstar, which is more than the population of several European countries! And not surprisingly they run on AWS. The entire Star TV’s OTT cloud strategy is built on AWS, which provides a seamless experience to stream videos for more than 40 channels in seven languages to more than 720 million users.

For Star TV, AWS provides cost-effective solutions that are scalable and reliable. Star TV aims to enhance the media-consuming experience for consumers by minimizing the buffering time. The symbiotic relationship between OTT and Cloud is clear as daylight. 

Traditional hardware and IT setup can never deliver the flexibility and distribution capacity that the market demands. This is due to the limitations of on-premise IT infrastructure such as changing tech stack, and the amount of DevOps required to keep the infrastructure running and fend off security threats.

A Data-driven World 

Netflix believes that there’s no one product, but 150 million versions of Netflix; one for each user. When you are watching Netflix, they are watching you, to know what you liked, skipped, re-watched, voted up, added to the playlist, and so on. Netflix users do not have the same feed. The feed is customized according to each user’s preference and viewing history. This kind of magic is made possible through extreme data analysis and microservices deployed on Cloud. 

With the data-driven strategy, they learn user preferences by plowing back the insights. They create better content that is appreciated by their audience, a virtuous circle that mitigates the risk of ‘guesswork’ traditionally associated with producing shows or movies that ‘maybe’ a smash hit or a big flop. 

OTT players have enough on their plate to handle, create content, drive download, grow subscriptions, and notify the user at the right time in a contextually relevant way. IT infrastructure should not be one of them, and with the cloud that is completely possible. 

The Guardian Angel

Piracy plagues OTT businesses. With the advent of Digital Rights Management (DRM), broadcasters can have advanced control to restrict access to their playlist so that only authenticated users can view their content. DRM has a set of protocols that goes beyond standard encryption for content protection. AWS offers Amazon Elastic Transcoder, a simple step to transcode and package content files that thwarts piracy. 

The Other Side

One of the biggest issues faced by OTT media platforms at present is mooching. Mooching is viewing the content without paying. Users sometimes share the OTT platform credentials intended for only one user with their family members which causes serious revenue loss to the OTT broadcasters. Cloud technology service providers are still working on a technology to identify and track the mooching to reduce the loss for OTT broadcasters. Despite this glitch, cloud technology is still a powerful enabler for OTT platforms. It also ensures a certain degree of a safe environment to the content hosted in the cloud environment when compared to other platforms.

With Cloud sweetening the deal, this is the time to be in the content and OTT business.

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