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Over-the-top (OTT) technologies have gotten a bigger seat at the table with a welcome influx of fresh, engaging content released directly on some top platforms. Let’s examine some major OTT trends and see how they may play out in 2021!

RELATED: WALKING THE WALK OF OTT TRANSFORMATION

OTT Trends You Shouldn’t Miss Out in 2021:

The Emergence of 5G & Its Effects

Theoretically speaking, 5G is 100 times faster than the best available 4G LTE networks. Providing a much faster and more reliable Internet connection, the next-generation cellular network technology could become a top option for live event streaming. It could gradually become a defining platform of streaming solutions in 2021.

With 5G and other Internet connection advances, there’s a good reason to expect a spike in Virtual Reality (VR) and 4K streaming in 2021. Besides, 360-degree (also known as immersive videos or spherical videos) live streaming will also become much more possible. In addition, improvements in connectivity can create new monetization options, such as specialized hyper-personalized packages or events that utilize network slices.

Connected TV Continues to Become More Popular

Connected TV refers to OTT streaming through smart TVs, gaming consoles, or dedicated streaming devices. As more viewers prefer watching more content on TVs as opposed to mobile devices TV content to using mobile devices Connected TV has become more popular over the past year. The most significant jump in Connected TV usage was for smart TVs, which reached about 37% of households in April 2018 versus 51% in 2020.

Some popular names in Connected TV streaming include:

  • Roku
  • Xbox
  • Apple TV
  • PlayStation
  • Amazon’s Fire Stick
  • Nintendo Switch.

Interestingly enough, despite this increase in Connected TV streaming, until now, the demand for mobile streaming on smartphones, tablets, or computers hasn’t been affected. The use of mobile, desktops, and tablets has been fairly consistent from 2018 through 2020 – phone usage fluctuating around 89-90% of U.S households during that period. The same tendency also occurs with usage on tablets and desktops.

Therefore, it will be very interesting to see how Connected TV and mobile streaming look going forward in the context of OTT trends in 2021.

Newer OTT Ventures Take on Media Giants

According to Comscore The State of OTT Report (June 2020), Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Disney+, and Amazon Video (including Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Instant Video) together accounted for 83% of the total OTT streaming hours in April 2020.

Despite the dominance of the major players, smaller OTT streaming services are still popping up and growing. There were about 25 new OTT video services launched nationwide in 2020 as of Q3.

These newer platforms usually require the support of an online video platform for professional operations. Struum is among those newest OTT players. Its platform is explicitly designed to serve hundreds of niche and specialty services. As part of its partnership with Firstlight Media (creators of a platform for Tier 1 and aspiring Tier 1 OTT services), Struum uses Firstlight’s new cloud-native streaming platform built on revolutionary Gen5 architecture to create an “agile, scalable, extensible” and future-proofed service.”

With new players joining the existing giants in this competitive playground, it’s right to expect the unexpected in 2021!

Excessive Options | Challenges or Opportunities for Monetization?

The explosion in OTT services encourages innovation, especially in monetization.

In terms of OTT trends, many OTT providers are resorting to advertising, pay-per-view, or AI/ML-powered monetization, instead of relying on traditional monetization from subscription models. Take Firstlight Media, for example. With an extensive background as the solutions provider for Tier 1 operators, the company’s platform runs on any cloud, leveraging cloud providers’ scale, reach, tools, and AI/ML-powered personalization and monetization capabilities to drive video providers’ successes.

Click here for details on this partnership between Firstlight Media and Google Cloud, and LINK for how Firstlight Media and Microsoft Azure have powered the launch Struum.

Never Underestimate User Experience (UX)

The number of OTT video services across the U.S. has more than doubled in the past six years to approximately 300 platforms through the third quarter of 2020. With the existing media giants and emerging players like Struum, viewers are now facing an abundance of options, making them discriminating when choosing streaming services.

Obviously, services’ content libraries are important, but user experience (UX) also plays a significant role in success. Viewers prefer interfaces that are easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye. A good example is the Netflix app that generally is user-friendly and “in tune” with user experience.

COVID-19 | Be Ready to Respond Quickly

In the early days of the pandemic, the OTT industry saw booming demand as stay-at-home, and social distancing policies from US and European governments came into effect.

Disney+ was among the first few to quickly adapt to changes by releasing movies on its platform at the beginning of lockdowns. Netflix responded by releasing some Netflix Original series, which were absolute hits. Other series with debuting casts had a blast as well.

COVID-19 also prompted the adoption of new technologies that bring people together even when they are physically distant. Some of the most noticeable ones include applications such as WatchParty (watch videos/movies together on a video chat) and potential features like streaming in-sync, which would enable services to allow viewers to upload user-generated content while viewing OTT programming.

Given the unprecedented events of the past year, we should expect to see new OTT technologies and, of course, some new challenges. Stay tuned to see how OTT trends play out in 2021!

Firstlight Media has its headquarters in Toronto and additional locations in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Chennai, India. For more information, visit firstlight.ai. To learn about Struum, visit www.struum.com 

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