The OTT landscape in 2018 has a wild west feel to it, especially for programmers. Some are lone rangers who choose to fly solo with their own OTT service. Others opt to hitch their wagon to the star of a larger distributor via licensing deals. And then there are the bandits: digital disruptors shooting their way into the original content saloon. Fortunately for the townspeople, top execs in the OTT space on Monday prophesized at CES the emergence of a new sheriff to restore order.

“This new aggregator that I believe people are testing already and people will test and experiment with, it potentially has the potential to do what no one curation platform can do: curate for you. And curate differently for you,” Verizon Digital Media Services CRO Chris Carey said during a panel discussion. Carey predicted that as the role of traditional MVPDs as aggregators continues to diminish, a new OTT service will step up to grab the torch. Such a service, he said, would have to provide programmers with accretive value in the form of customers they wouldn’t be able to acquire on their own.

Gracenote GM, video and sports Simon Adams said such a platform will emerge based on consumer demand for one. “The question is who’s going to have the data and who’s going to have the first touchpoint with the consumer to become the aggregator, or the switchboard, so to speak that sort of channels all this content,” he said. “That may sound a little farfetched because obviously there are lots of real barriers, both in terms of the business model and the technology limitations, but in my mind, I have no doubt that’s going to be the point of arrival because that’s what the user actually wants.”

Fabian Birgfeld, whose W12 Studios develops digital platforms for brands and programmers, also suggested the dust will settle within the next five years. “There’s a real opportunity for Disney and Fox to be a sort of competitor to Netflix and really reshape the landscape,” he said. “I anticipate in five years, there’s going to be a much clearer understanding of who’s a platform and who’s essentially a content player.” Turner’s svp, digital products Richard Steiner, who leads the company’s TCM and FilmStruck service, took an alternative stance, asserting individual programrs could continue to stand on their own in the long term. He cited HBO Go as an example of a single-brand OTT platform that has thrived. The panel pointed to improvements in data and machine learning as the advancement that would most benefit the OTT landscape based on the potential for better curation and recommendations. – Cable Fax