In an OTT and TV slugfest, you don’t need a knockout to stand out

In an OTT and TV slugfest, you don’t need a knockout to stand out
By Yew Weng Soo, Vice President, Sales & Market Development, APAC at SES Video

Stringing the words “OTT” and “linear TV” together in a sentence conjures up images of conflict – battle, war and even the possible (some would say imminent) death of traditional TV viewing.

If you have doubts, take a look at some of the headlines that have dominated the news: “Will linear TV survive the OTT age?” or “The future of TV looks bleak” or “Will online streaming kill off traditional broadcasting?”

Some see the match-up between linear TV and OTT as a fight to the death. In my mind’s eye, the pairing of these two heavyweights is a boxing match, and today we are more than midway through the bout.

For the longest time, both contenders have been dealing blows. At the advent of OTT, much of the initial debate among industry players and analysts revolved around whether it would just be a passing fad, or whether it spelt the future for video. On the one hand, there were suggestions from OTT providers that evolving viewing trends spelt the end for traditional broadcasting. On the other, broadcasters laid claim to the continued dominance of TV.

Neither view is completely right, nor wrong. For a match to last this long, there has to be some weight to both claims, so let us talk about what is true.

Viewing content whenever, wherever

We know for certain that consumers’ viewing preferences are still evolving. People may have not fallen out of love with television, but maybe just the television set. According to a study carried out by Ampere Analysis, tablets are being most used at breakfast, and smartphones throughout the day. In the evening, after a long day’s work, people turn to their televisions, and later at night is when they turn to streaming boxes to binge watch their latest favourite TV season.

TV retains its crown

Linear TV is still the mainstay of many households, especially here in Asia’s fast-growing TV markets, where it has cemented its status as the entertainment medium of choice. If you have any doubts, enter any home in Asia and chances are that the TV is likely to be on. The act of watching TV is a communal affair here.

Is TV in a period of slow growth elsewhere around the world? Perhaps, most notably in North America, but bear in mind that when you have already dominated much of the market, there’s not much more room to grow.

Outmaneuver to outlast

I believe there are lessons that each can draw from the other’s perspective. How do you outbox a skilled fighter? Instead of taking a swing at your opponent, why not use your opponent’s momentum to your advantage?

Make no mistake – TV is not dying a slow death, neither is OTT going to burn out, as fast and bright as a shooting star. These changing trends in video consumption remind broadcasters and content providers alike of the need to continuously adapt their offerings to serve both new TV audiences and new audience demands. As satellite operators, we have to be ready with the best-fit solutions and services to enable them to succeed.

At SES, together with our affiliate MX1, we aim to support our customers in this direction, to deliver video services and solutions across satellite, fibre, and the Internet, as well as over linear and non-linear platforms.

It shouldn’t be a fight to the death between OTT service providers and linear TV operators. Eight, 10 rounds later, the ones who will be left standing are those who diversify and develop complementary offerings that cater to each viewer’s needs.

Case in point is Sky in the UK, which has just recently announced that their viewers could soon watch Netflix shows on its Sky Q platform, despite Sky having their own OTT offerings. From Sky’s perspective, this partnership is a win-win because this makes it easy for their viewers to enjoy all popular entertainment on one simple platform.

The competition is not against each other. Instead, the crux of the fight is for audiences’ eyeballs – for each TV operator or service provider to put out the best offerings that satisfy the needs of each audience group.

This article was first published on Soo's LinkedIn page