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Attempting to predict the future is always risky. Unforeseen events, new technologies and changes in public taste all can change the trajectory of a product, a business or an entire industry.

A year ago, who would have predicted the boom that OTT has experienced? Could anybody really have foreseen the rising tide of pandemic viewership – up 44% in Q4 2020 alone ¬– that lifted all boats?

So when our Chief Business Officer and co-founder Paul Pastor weighed in on Streaming Media Connect’s “OTT In the Year 2025” panel last week the main takeaway seemed to be this: it’s less about knowing exactly what the OTT future holds, and more about having the flexible, scalable architecture that can prepare you for any and all eventualities.

Paul spoke on behalf of Struum, the innovative OTT superaggregator and Firstlight Media’s newest customer. He and Disney Branded Video’s Grant Michaelson, Google TV’s Shobana Radhakrishnan, BroadwayHD’s Bonnie Comley, Bitmovin’s Reinhard Grandl and moderator Allan McLennan discussed how pandemic viewing has accelerated growth and created new opportunities across every content genre.

Here are some of the things the experts highlighted:

  • The monetization potential of live betting will be in the forefront  of new features that are driving innovation across sports television. (We’ll have more to say about this next month.)
  • With 300 services in the U.S. alone – and more on the way – there will continue to be a need for consumers adrift in an “ocean of content” to be rescued by tools that can help them discover new viewing options.
  • Personalization will need to be device-, viewer- and situation-centric, enabling services to recommend the content that is most appropriate for that viewer at that moment and in that context.

In an industry that just achieved 2023 projections three years ahead of schedule, 2025 suddenly looks closer – and more unpredictable – than ever. Streaming providers whose legacy platforms prevented them from capitalizing fully on the pandemic viewing surge would be well-advised to consider next-gen, cloud-based architectures. These have the agility to quickly address the new possibilities above – as well as others that are still over the horizon.

OTT in the year 2025? I certainly won’t pretend I have a crystal ball. What I can say with confidence is that all streaming providers looking to survive and succeed in this space will need to have the infrastructure – the stable and scalable backbone – to be able to take advantage of the next wave of consumer behaviors and expectations.

Katie Back