A new forecast by research firm Digital TV Research pegs worldwide Over the Top (OTT) Video revenue to reach $51 billion in 2020. That’s nearly twice of what’s expected in 2015 ($26 billion). We know that OTT Video is here to stay and the forerunners will probably grab the market share. What seems fuzzy is how to master this revolutionary space. As companies scramble to enter the space, here are some imperatives to consider:
1) Are you focused on transactions or relationships?
The major shift that has taken place in recent years across every form of media is that the subscriber not the advertiser is now your primary customer. OTT Video is a pure-bred subscription economy native ruled by relationships. If you’re still thinking along the lines of one-time transactions, a sale and a goodbye, you are not ready for OTT Video.
To succeed in this revolutionary space, you must be prepared to go the long haul- cultivate, nurture and grow relationships with every, single customer. That’s right, every single one of them. Now more than ever, you have an opportunity to take steps to create a unified view of your subscriber relationships, and use this relationship information to offer creative value added services to your customer base and thereby strengthen those relationships.
2) Is your digital experience like a check-out counter or a genius bar?
Customer expectations have risen dramatically across all sectors but perhaps nowhere as much as in entertainment. Do not expect any customer loyalty or new customers if you are still offering them a clunky, digital check-out experience. People expect immediate gratification and want great value from step 1. Your commerce system will need to provide functionality for customers to create and manage their accounts on the web, on tablets and mobiles in a self-service manner. Ensure your digital experience is consistent and delightful at all customer touchpoints.
Also consider if you’re truly billing for the digital wallet. How many fields of data are you asking customers to fill out before buying something? Make it simple and easy for customers to pay you! This is a no-brainer but it’s amazing how many companies neglect this and lose customers.
3) Are you ready to support single sign-on across mobile, tv, and even the connected fridge?
One of OTT Video’s primary selling point is the fact that it’s device agnostic. This is not a premium option but a default expectation from your service. Are you ready to offer subscribers a seamless experience across all devices and bandwidths? This isn’t just about the ability to view but also includes delivering real-time customer care across multiple screens and devices; and analyzing subscribers status, devices, and viewing activity to troubleshoot issues ahead of time.
Also, think outside the ‘box’ – Are you able to scale and play well with other connected devices? OTT Video services are bound to cross-paths with IoT and the connected home. And this is poised to become a key factor in customer decision-making.
4) Are you focused on happy experiences or call-center efficiency?
Mistakes happen and technical complications arise. Most of your subscribers understand that. What matters is how you address it. If you’re thinking of factory-like efficiency at your call-centers and have a problem-solution approach, you’re going down a slippery slope.
Remember why people are switching from traditional cable to OTT Video? They have been unhappy with the traditional cable industry’s almost non-existent level of service for years. OTT has promised audiences that it’s different. Customers want to see this difference at every touchpoint including troubleshooting. Empower your team to focus on the bigger picture of customer experience across all channels rather than just solving a single problem.
5) Do you think of your billing system an invoice printer or a personal messaging service?
The monthly bill or payment receipt is more important than ever before. It has evolved from a printed bill sent by postal mail to the most important means of digital communication between an OTT Video business and its customers.
If you’re treating the bill as a simple transaction receipt that goes out every month, you are missing a huge opportunity to connect and build your customer relationship. Use it to create a branded experience, nurture the relationship, deliver personalized messages and as a reminder of why you are special to each other. Spread your branding and make it a unique touch-point.
In a world where you are competing for the digital attention of your customers, it is extremely important for OTT Video services to deliver an engaging, memorable and personalized message, not just a simple receipt highlighting a financial transaction.
6) Is your data disconnected or are you ready for the data deluge?
Big data can be daunting but it can also be the biggest game-changer for your business. Ask yourself what kind of data you are collecting and how it serves you – Does your data help you truly know your customer? Do you analyze transaction data and trends? Do you utilize clickstream data to personalize the experience? Can you predict which customers are likely to churn? Does your data help you identify opportunities for upsells and cross-sells?
To succeed in the OTT Video space, you have to leverage the power of big data. Being data agnostic is not even a choice. To drive success in OTT Video, you need to utilize powerful, actionable data across marketing, commerce and user experience to drive retention and subscriber growth.
7) Are you focused on individual viewers or entire households?
Video subscriptions and packages are not one size fits all. Meet the demands of your subscribers by offering the right package for their viewing habits. By default, customers will expect to see you offering a variety of products and pricing plans, so they can feel comfortable choosing one that best suits their needs in entirety. Your commerce system must allow you to support numerous product configurations, rapidly experiment when new plans cross your mind, and change dynamically as market or competitive situations dictate.
Remember, every viewer is important. Even if he/she is not a direct paying customer. Your plans must cater not only to individuals, but to families and businesses too. Media and entertainment is consumed by everyone across generations – children to grandparents. While the paying account holder may be a middle-aged parent who’s completely satisfied with your service, their teenage son may want more (access on different devices; more niche content, etc). You simply cannot afford to neglect the experience of viewers who are not directly paying you because ultimately they may be a strong influence on your customers and also might be your most vocal users and evangelists.
8) Is your accounting team ready to think as creatively as your development team?
Subscriptions change the game across the board but nowhere as much as in accounting! Do you have a team that knows the intricacies of subscription numbers? Or are they still playing catch-up? Can you create custom reports? Get quick visibility into key metrics? Create configurable data extracts for external reporting and data warehousing? How will you minimize churn and increase long-term retention? What are your credit card retry, chargeback and vaulting strategies? These are just a few questions to ponder over as you get ready to create your OTT Video service.
For some, this can be a whole new way of doing business which means ingraining the new approach in your team and empowering them with the right tools. However, the prospect of truly “owning” subscribers, billing and financials – and understanding their actions and behaviors in a robust and meaningful way will ultimately be very rewarding.
9) Are you thinking just about OTT Video or are you thinking of additional OTT subscription services?
While OTT Video can be a lot to master, you cannot think of it in isolation. The same or similar shift is happening in other industries too. The connected home, the connected car, etc are no longer stuff of sci-fi films. They have entered our lives and are soon going to become all pervasive.
The media industry doesn’t seem to know it yet but it stands to benefit enormously from this shift. Why? Because now they’ll be able to explore entirely new IP services (home automation, IoT, health). The general OTT infrastructure must play well with these new IP services as well. All are nascent industries without any standardisation but their convergence is a given.
For more on implementing the OTT Video 2.0 strategy, download our Blueprint for a Subscriber-Centric OTT Video Business. Based on best practices that Zuora has arrived at working with leading media companies, the blueprint highlights the five key areas to consider when developing or transitioning to a subscriber-centric OTT Video 2.0 platform.