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The Future of OTT: Giving Every Consumer a Personalized Viewing Experience

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The beginnings of over-the-top (OTT) video can be traced back to 2005, when premium television and movie content first became available online via the Akimbo service. The service gave consumers access to a limited library of content through a cable-style set-top box that downloaded content for later viewing. Since then, the industry has grown far faster than anyone ever imagined as consumers have come to expect immediate access to television-like viewing on their smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.

Addressing this demand, OTT services such as Netflix and Hulu have become the norm, and the variety and quality of programming they offer rivals that of any broadcast network. Upping the ante with personalized recommendations, genre-based listings and binge viewing functions, these leading streaming video services have introduced a new level of viewer engagement and experiences. They also have captured a significant market share in an increasingly busy and competitive marketplace, and it often is difficult for other content providers to break through.

Excellent content, a straightforward interface and strong discovery tools are no longer enough to get an OTT service noticed or to generate the subscription base necessary for success. Service providers must offer an experience uniquely tailored to each consumer, a one-to-one experience that proactively supplies viewers with the highest quality delivery, along with content and advertising that is relevant to their specific interests and viewing preferences.

To create personalized online experiences for every viewer, OTT service providers need the means to understand the how, what, where, when and why their viewers are watching any given piece of content. It requires the aggregation and analysis of data that typically is spread out across multiple platforms and systems. In other words, it’s a complex process. Thus, as they enter the OTT realm, broadcasters and other content providers are finding it necessary to work with an online video service platform with the intelligence to gather key insights based on every aspect of the video workflow and viewer experience.

Knowledge of viewers’ content preferences, the devices they stream on and more can be derived from the use of one-to-one session management. This relationship with each and every user allows content owners to deliver a unique, tailored viewing session for every OTT consumer. Extending from the beginning of the video lifecycle and ending when the viewer closes the OTT application, this approach empowers the online video platform—and thus the broadcaster or other content provider—to deliver a high degree of personalization, as well as exceptional quality to any device.

This one-to-one relationship promises to transform the way that content providers reach audiences and gather detailed insights into each piece of their content. As a result, viewers are happy and watch longer, which naturally makes both advertisers and the broadcaster/operator happier. In fact, with personalized programming channels based on viewer insights, it is possible to not only capture viewers quickly with content they find compelling, but also to segment audiences for more targeted advertising—another all-around win.

Verizon Digital Media Services helps content providers establish and build this direct connection with viewers. The company’s unique end-to-end platform combines the Uplynk Video Streaming service with the global Edgecast Content Delivery Network (CDN). Moreover, as a cloud-based provider, it can centralize data from content creation to ingest to delivery on every device and platform to a potential audience of millions of concurrent users. Using this data along with CRM, billing and account information, the company makes it possible to go beyond simple recommendations to effectively create a personalized virtual linear TV channel for every viewer.

Learn more about how Verizon Digital Media Services’ platform can provide personalized viewing experiences at

Jason Friedlander is director of product and technology evangelism at Verizon Digital Media Services.