Over-the-Top – Friend, Not Foe?

Up until recently, the discussion around OTT/IPTV technology has been framed in terms of its potential to disrupt and undermine the traditional business of broadcast, but what if its powers could be “harnessed for good, not evil”?

After all, OTT is just another method of delivering content to those who want to consume it and there are plenty of examples of incumbent operators adopting disruptive technologies to further their own ends.

As featured in our cover story, Australia’s dominant pay TV provider, Foxtel, has launched a new OTT service under the brand of Foxtel Play.
Seemingly at odds with its core cable/satellite business, the new internet TV service will be delivered initially to compatible Samsung Smart TVs, Xbox 360 consoles, and PC and Mac computers. The service enables customers with a broadband connection to watch programs live or on catch-up with no lock-in contract and no installation costs.
In a move which not only addresses the growth in delivery platforms available, but also recognises that not all consumers are in a position to sign up for the traditional fixed cable/satellite installation, Foxtel Play offers customers access to content as soon as they sign up and enables them to subscribe by the month and pay as they go. Subscribers can stop and start their subscription month-to-month, to suit their circumstances or viewing choices.
Foxtel Play subscribers will also have access to the Foxtel Go service, launched as a smartphone/tablet extension service for existing set-top box subscribers.
According to Richard Freudenstein, Foxtel Chief Executive, “Foxtel Play gives even more Australians who might not be able to access the core service the freedom and flexibility to enjoy Foxtel across multiple connected devices and at price points to suit different budgets and tastes.”
If you subscribe to the philosophy that 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing, Foxtel’s OTT strategy makes a lot of sense, especially as its traditional “fixed” installation take-up rate sits around 30% of households – high by global standards – and any further increase in this rate is likely to be incremental. If one compares the ROI in making these incremental gains with that of delivering content via OTT to paying subscribers not interested in the traditional set-top model, it’s a pretty compelling argument for co-opting disruptive technology. Visit foxtelplay.com.au

Also employing disruptive technology, GlobeCast recently announced the launch of an over-the top “Incubator Platform” for Asia designed to help new channels gain visibility and secure carriage agreements with Asian Pay TV platforms.

Available on iOS and Android tablets and smartphones, the OTT platform will eliminate the need for such broadcasters to make costly investments in regional playout and satellite distribution before gaining carriage agreements in Asia — an investment that is not sustainable for many niche mid-tier channels.

According to GlobeCast, broadcasters can get their live channels evaluated by Asian Pay TV operators at a fraction of the cost, giving them a low-risk way to evaluate their prospects in Asia and secure regional carriage deals. Where GlobeCast hopes to benefit is by offering those who have successfully obtained carriage an upgrade in distribution to one of GlobeCast’s existing satellite platforms in Asia. GlobeCast runs satellite platforms on Measat 3a, Apstar 7, and AsiaSat 3S from its teleports in Hong Kong and from the brand-new teleport facility in Singapore.

This is a smart example of turning a potential threat (Internet carriage) into an asset for an existing business model (satellite delivery). Visit www.globecast.com

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Phil Sandberg
Editor/Publisher

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