Cable operators need to embrace over-the-top (OTT) services to combat the very cord cutting that OTT threatens to foster, and then they will be able to generate new revenues by increasing the time customers spend consuming their services. This argument was advanced, not surprisingly, by Israeli OTT platform vendor Tvinci at last week’s ANGA Cable exhibition in Cologne, Germany.
The key point is that like it or not, consumers are spending an increasing amount of time consuming content online, and operators should attempt to keep as much as this viewing as possible within their subscription services rather than allowing it to be taken by emerging OTT providers. They can do this by exploiting their existing customer relationships and, above all, the content that they have, which is often more comprehensive than is available from new OTT providers and more likely to include premium material.
To do this, cable operators must make their services available via OTT, but they then face the question of how best to achieve this without compromising quality. Although adaptive streaming techniques are improving quality over the Internet, OTT services are still ultimately constrained by the bandwidth available, and there is a limit to how much any technology can do to cope with highly variable bit rates. Ultimately, therefore, cable operators will be dependent on partnerships with existing telcos or other providers of broadband infrastructure to provide high-quality HDTV services, and that will be an increasing priority for many over the next few years.