Key Takeaways from the 2019 NAB Streaming Summit

by Steve Nason | Apr. 11, 2019

I recently returned from the Streaming Summit at this year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas. The Streaming Summit is in its second year and is solely focused on the current and future state of the streaming and OTT video space. Speakers from market leaders such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Google, Comcast, and CBS Interactive among others, discussed topics ranging from improving the customer experience to implementing varying service business models to building an OTT platform to streaming live content to forging new partner relationships. Here are my key takeaways from the event:

  • Optimizing user experience is the most critical piece of any OTT service. No topic from the Streaming Summit was discussed more than strategies to improve the end-user experience.  Regardless of service size, type, business model, or content focus, OTT service providers are laser focused on delivering seamless service and targeted content to meet consumer needs. For example, Comcast detailed delivering a unified streaming entertainment service including video, ambient content, music, and gaming to their subscribers. Speakers on the technical side (e.g. Engineering and IT) spoke about providing high-quality video without service interruption or other issues. Live sports streaming services discussed enhancing the interactive in-game and in-home video experience. 
  • Helping consumers easily discover content is integral to capturing and retaining them. OTT providers are fully committed to guiding viewers to the content they really want to watch. Content discovery is challenging with such a deep reservoir of choices facing streaming consumers on a daily basis. However, through enhanced search capabilities in the user interface and augmented recommendation engines, providers are trying to streamline the content discovery process.
  • Content aggregation is also an important customer acquisition and retention strategy. OTT providers universally agreed that providing customers the content they want in one unifying platform was a direct path to acquiring and retaining them. OTT content providers realize that building relationships with aggregator partners is essential to increasing the visibility and revenue potential of their content. OTT aggregators are using the advent of universal search and voice control, among other tools, to provide an all-encompassing portal for viewers to access the content that fits their needs.
  • OTT service providers struggle with how to resolve latency issues. Video latency, the time difference between when a frame is captured and when it is displayed, was mentioned at nearly every session I attended at the Streaming Summit. Amazon made headlines early in the event by stating that the latency goal for live-streaming sports should be five seconds or less.  Other providers of live sports streaming discussed how latency issues dramatically affects the user experience. Some speakers also mentioned how difficult it is to manage their OTT service on a daily basis because of performance-related issues due to latency.

With the proliferation of OTT services in the marketplace and the impending arrival of offerings from Disney, Apple, and TimeWarner among others, events such as the NAB Streaming Summit are essential for the industry. It provides a forum for key players to discuss best practices to create, implement, and maintain OTT services that can meet the ever-evolving needs of a customer base that is shifting its video-watching behaviors online at a dramatically accelerated rate.

Parks Associates' latest consumer research supports this finding:

Further Reading:

Tags: OTT, streaming

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