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The off-shore OTT opportunity: Determining the right distribution model for going over-the-top overseas

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Introduction

With the rise of OTT, an increasing number of broadcasters are exploring the ways in which they can extend the reach of their video content beyond its existing audience.

One of the key advantages of delivering content ‘over-the-top’ lies in its ability to off-shore video around the globe, breaking down the barriers that traditionally restricted content to its native region, reaching broader audiences and, ultimately, helping broadcasters realise additional opportunities to monetise their content.

But despite a unifying consumer appetite for content, there are subtle differences between audiences that mean your off-shore OTT strategy can’t be a one size fits all approach. So, what options are available, and how do you decide the best way to reach your audiences wherever they are in the world?

 

VOD distribution differences

To answer this question, it’s first necessary to understand the differences between the distribution models on offer – each with its own benefits and drawbacks based on the intended audience.

  • Advertising video-on-demand (AVOD), while effectively delivering ‘free’ content to audiences in exchange for eyeballs on advertising, relies on securing ad deals that will deliver high enough yields to cover content production and distribution costs. In regions where CPMs are low the AVOD model will struggle.
  • Subscription VOD (SVOD) and transactional VOD (TVOD) provide access to content in exchange for a per view or regular monthly payment. The powerful advantage of these models lies in their DTC [direct to consumer] approach, enabling content owners to understand their audiences through content consumption and preference data, and providing the ability to market additional content offerings to them based on this insight. The only drawback: consumers’ natural reluctance to part with their cash, especially for new or untested offerings.
  • Micro-payment models – this is where content owners partner with regional telco operators to work video content allowances into their coverage plans. They have also developed as a means to deliver OTT content to audiences (such as emerging markets) where TVOD and SVOD billing models (reliant on credit cards) won’t work.
  • Similarly, sponsorship models, that see content owners partnering with sponsors that have a high level of affinity with their target audience, have proven most efficient for monetising niche content intended for low volume viewership.

 

Demographics: the deciding factor

Deciding on the right OTT distribution model for your content is almost entirely dependent on demographics. What geography are you off-shoring to? What type of content are you distributing? What device or platform will audiences be viewing on?

In terms of geography, there are already clear preferences for particular models in certain regions. Western markets, like the UK and US for example, see the best success with SVOD and TVOD, given that audiences are already familiar with recurring billing models. However emerging markets, like India and the Middle East, struggle with these models (and similarly AVOD) meaning micro-payment models – where consumers can top-up viewing credits at a local store – are the model of choice.

Content type is also an important consideration. Short-form video works best on an AVOD model, offering content for little in return from the viewer. For longer-form, episodic content (like box-sets and TV series), content owners have the pick of the bunch. Most models, AVOD/SVOD/TVOD, can monetise such content effectively. It’s only when you reach premium and high-value content (like first release movies) that the choice limits again to TVOD – with AVOD (and likely SVOD) unable to deliver substantial yields to cover costs.

Equally the intended device or platform type is another deciding factor for OTT success. Considering whether your audience will be watching in the living room or on the go, on Apple or Android, or even what set-top box they’ll be connecting to (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV etc.) is fundamental to your choice of OTT model. If you’re asking for money (either via SVOD or TVOD) you need to make sure the end user experience is easy enough to encourage and facilitate the purchase.

 

Walter Presents a perfect example

Many broadcasters are already experimenting with different off-shore OTT content models to extend the life of their content beyond its native region – perhaps one of the best examples of this is GSN’s Walter Presents.

For GSN, Walter Presents found success in the UK after partnering with Channel 4 in 2016 to deliver its curated catalogue of foreign-language dramas from around the world on an AVOD model via the ad-funded All 4 platform. In its first year Walter Presents had 18 million streams and tapped the UK’s appetite for mainstream drama, regardless of origin.

One programme in particular had UK viewers hooked: German spy drama Deutschland 83 quickly became the highest rated foreign-language drama in UK TV history; the first episode clocking a massive 2.5 million viewers. Its off-shore popularity ultimately secured the programme’s spot as the most successful German series of all time in the UK – proving that regardless of how content might perform at home, there are substantial opportunities to be had abroad.

In March of this year, Brightcove was called in to help power Walter Presents’ latest move to off-shore its pool of global content: this time to the other side of the Atlantic. With free-to-air TV having less dominance in the US, instead of sticking to the same ad-funded model the US distribution of Walter Presents is on an ad-free, SVOD basis costing consumers $6.99 a month, via mobile (Apple and Android), Apple TV, Amazon TV and the Roku platform.

While it’s still early days for Walter’s American arm, the OTT service has already seen a promising start – hopefully in the future giving further proof that choosing the right distribution model is key to driving traction with audiences early on in your off-shore efforts.

 

A democratised future

In many senses, offshore OTT is waving in an era of democratised content – for both broadcaster and viewer. Consumers’ insatiable appetites for content has opened the door for broadcasters (large and small) to capitalise on the OTT opportunity, no matter their budget, content or region.

Because of this, we can expect to see a massive rise in the number of niche content owners breaking into the mainstream OTT landscape. However, for them to be truly successful they cannot dive straight in. To stand out from the throng of global content, off-shore distributors must carefully consider their regional approach in order to achieve the best value proposition for broadcaster and viewer alike.


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