Mobile video viewing has increased from a fringe activity to a required feature, says Penthera Chief Technology Officer Joshua Pressnell.
What is Penthera’s main business aim?
Penthera’s mission is to transform how the world accesses mobile video content to ensure audiences can view content how, when, and where they want it.
If you’ve ever watched video content on a mobile device, we probably have helped you. We develop and deploy software products that facilitate the delivery of TV shows, movies, and other video content to mobile devices for the most popular global video content providers. We provide our technology in a subscription/SaaS model.
What kind of requests and demands is Penthera receiving from its clients?
The most frequent request we get from our partners is to support unique business rules that cover when and how end users are permitted to download. Penthera’s technology is designed to be versatile, and there are multiple simple ways we can accommodate these requests without heavy effort on our part or on the part of our customers.
How would you describe the workflow behind the delivery of TV show to mobile devices?
There is no single workflow that covers delivery of video to mobile devices completely, and the industry is continuing to evolve. For example, Penthera envisions ‘download’ as an enabling technology that supports a wide variety of user experiences. At the moment, the video industry has only really embraced the most basic forms of downloading, but big companies are starting to see the benefits of a more expansive approach.
Studies have shown that providing a continually refreshed local library of content increases both engagement and user loyalty. With our subscriptions feature, the user still manually registers an intent to download, but instead of downloading individual videos the user requests continual automated delivery of a series of content.
In addition to subscriptions, Penthera offers a variety of other workflows that can help to increase user engagement. For instance, we offer several ‘push download’ products that allow users to seamlessly interact with content without the need to open an app at all. Our customers can offer the ability to request a mobile download from other media devices, such as a connected TV, game station or set-top-box. They can also offer scheduled or embargoed downloads via email marketing campaigns to their most active users.
What is the biggest barrier when it comes to delivering content at any time to any device?
There are really two barriers at this point, but technology is quickly evolving to address them. Firstly, a large portion of the media industry is currently ad-supported. While many OTT providers are now offering premium ad-free subscription services, a great many have yet to do so, and those that are still doing so have a desire to offer download options for their ad-supported content. And yet the media advertising industry has not been able to deliver a way to monetise offline advertising. While Penthera’s solutions have offered offline ad support for many years, without a way to get credit for the ad impressions these solutions have yet to be deployed.
This is starting to change, however. Penthera is working with some major advertising companies to launch offline ad-supported content, and we may see this product in-market as soon as this calendar year.
The second barrier is a lack of ubiquitous high speed connectivity available for streaming. We were promised “high speed mobile data everywhere” when LTE rolled out. That never really materialised, and even where LTE signal is strong the size and quality of video has increased to match the network’s ability to deliver it.
Lots of people are talking now about how 5G is going to finally be the silver bullet in wireless data, but the reality is that 5G isn’t going to create a perfectly connected world, and video streaming will continue to face problems like buffering and lag as more content is consumed and higher video resolutions continue to thrive.
Our products circumvent the ‘connectivity issue’ by downloading content when connectivity is good, so that videos can be watched any time, anywhere.
Read more Digital video’s offline adventure
How has Penthera innovated in the mobile delivery of content?
Penthera has been bringing innovative features for mobile delivery to market for nearly a decade.
We were founded to bring offline delivery to mobile devices before smartphones really became mainstream, and when cable networks were the only way to watch video. As such, Penthera has always had a long view on technology and user behaviour when it comes to video consumption habits.
Since then, mobile video viewing has increased from a fringe activity to a required feature and the number of companies offering OTT video services has increased exponentially. Our flagship product, Download2Go, has now been widely adopted by the same people who said they would never provide download options for their video content.
Enabling downloading of content enhances your audiences experiences. What else do you have in the pipeline to expand the UX?
Penthera has recently been focusing quite a bit on the use of our core technology to expand the end-user experience. Penthera already offers many features that allow the user to access content with less friction, such as FastPlay, Subscriptions, Push Marketing, Embargo, and others.
FastPlay eliminates streaming video startup buffering. Subscriptions allows users to configure automatic downloading of episodic media. Embargo pushes high quality video to a mobile device prior to its release date, giving customers perfect playback quality for premium content during peak times when streaming video playback may suffer.
We offer these solutions, and many others, to enable our customers to give their end users access to content without needing to worry about when and where they want to watch it, with an offline video library that’s always refreshed with things they care about.
These products are available today, and are another example of Penthera’s obsession with being one-step ahead of the current market standards.
How will the delivery of content over wireless networks to mobile devices evolve over the next 3-5 years? What will it look like in 10 years’ time?
The wireless infrastructure we use daily is constantly improving. Within the next 3-5 years 5G networks will become the standard, replacing 4G/LTE. [But] while 5G networks will allow for extremely fast peak data transfers, this will likely be at the cost of range, and network access will still be relevantly transient.
Also, while the wireless networks are improving, consumption of video is increasing. The Internet wasn’t designed to be a video distribution platform. 4K video is becoming standard, and 8K UHD video is now rolling out, all while mobile phone screens are getting higher and higher resolutions.
I think that consuming ‘video’ in 10 years, either via a traditional screen or in VR, will look much the same as it does now. The only difference will be that more people are doing it and we’ll be watching content that’s incredibly high-resolution and immersive on a networked device that’s more integrated with our existence than mobile phones are now.
Joshua Pressnell is Chief Technology Officer at Penthera.