• OTT webinar outlines some of the challenges of building tomorrow’s OTT platforms
  • Speakers from France Télévisions, Akamai and Spicy Mango
  • Security, advertising and trade-offs all discussed

mobile OTT video streaming

Building tomorrow’s OTT platforms 

In a recent IBC365 webinar, looking at Building tomorrow’s OTT platforms speakers from France Télévisions, Akamai, and Spicy Mango explained their views on the growth of OTT and the impact it is having on broadcasters worldwide.

Raphael Goldwaser – lead video architect at France Télévisions – said that HDR had been “a real game-changer” in recent years, but it also meant that broadcasters looking to launch an OTT platform need to guarantee compatibility across all devices.

“When you use HDR on an SDR TV set you get very bad colour – they look quite washed out,” he said.

“But when you use the wrong HDR metadata on a TV that doesn’t support HLG you get issues with quality. So it is difficult to have full compatibility across all devices.”

When France Télévisions is using AVOD it is “pre-roll” but that, he added, deteriorates the user experience. “Let’s hope pre-roll is over in the next few years,” he added.

Discussing monetisation of OTT, he explained that dynamic ad insertion has become “quite trendy” in recent years.

“When it works, it gives a great user experience. The technology is still a bit tricky but the revenue is very promising for live events.”

During its coverage of this year’s Tour de France, France Télévisions has trialled in-content ads. “This is quite a new way of making revenue for an OTT platform, but it is also quite simple.”

For Goldwaser, the user experience is most important when it comes to OTT services.

He said: “Online users are very demanding, so it is important that the architecture we build is highly scalable and can handle thousands of screens connecting. We are all looking for a successful OTT platform and this is vital.

“The front end is still very important – providing the same experience across all platforms is very important, but it can also be very tricky, depending on what platform you’re working on. You’d like to be able to recognise the brand by its design wherever you are watching it – this is very important to us as a broadcaster. Regarding the player, there are two mindsets to do that – either buy one off the shelf or build your own.”

Goldwaser was joined on the webinar by Akamai VP of media and carrier for EMEA Natalie Billingham. Discussing a recent success story for the vendor, Billingham told how an Akamai customer hit a record audience of 25.3 million concurrent online viewers for the Cricket World Cup.

“This correlates with viewing figures from most European countries which show that while linear TV is still a very popular entertainment medium, online viewing is rising rapidly, especially with younger demographics,” she added.

People are also watching online content for longer, she explained.

“Online content was once more focussed on short form content but that’s changed with the advent of boxsets and the growth of SVOD.”

She gave the example of the UK, where linear TV counts for only 52% of viewing time across all demographics – among 16-34 age range that falls to only 28% with VOD services now commanding 23% of the viewing time.

Recent years have seen a number of “ground-breaking” service developments for the industry, she explained, as broadcasters have been maturing every aspect of their services.

One key area Billingham pointed to was security. “Business and content security is one of the most active areas across media at the moment, as many of our customers have recognised the severity of the threat landscape online and so have rapidly matured their approach to combat this.”

Akamai has seen “significant investment” in ensuring delivery of the best viewing experience possible. Areas such as improving latency, the streaming of high resolution video, and the maturing of origin services were all pointed to by Billingham.

“To ensure content, our first goal is to prevent service attack, such as DDoS or RansomWare attacks,” she added. Another focus is preventing loss of data, with broadcasters needing to provide a highly reliable, secure, reliable environment for collecting and storing sensitive user information, managing privacy controls and preventing identity fraud.

The third security goal Billingham outlined is around preventing the loss of content itself, from corruption, content theft, online piracy, or content access by illegitimate users or in illegitimate regions through use of VPNs or proxy.

To achieve these, she said broadcasters need to outline a clear strategy to “ensure you have a 360-degree security posture.”

Infrastructure can be protected by technology such as firewalls, DDoS protection, malware and bot detection, and origin shielding, added Billingham. User data protection tools such as customer identity access management, privacy controls, and identity fraud protection can be used to protect customer data.

“We’re also seeing improved investments in technology such as tokenisation, media encryption, piracy monitoring and DRM to ensure against piracy and that rights obligations are met,” she concluded.

The final speaker was Spicy Mango CTO Chris Wood. He has been involved in designing a number of OTT platforms for broadcast partner, and said that process is all about balancing trade-offs.

“As architects we typically have a conversation about finding balance – we have trade-offs in terms of financial or complexity or control or risk – and we don’t live in a perfect world,” he said.

“As a collective industry we need to agree on how much we’re prepared to own or buy-in. Then it’s back to that trade-off. If we can’t deliver great experiences to the consumer then we’re not prepared to take ownership of the components.”

Splitting apart architecture into much smaller elements “allows us to manage those elements on a more targeted basis, so we can scale those key components with much more flexibility as the scale increases,” he added.