Anshuman Das , CEO , Muvi.com

Based on the forecasted changes in OTT consumption pattern, it is highly recommended that OTT content distributors develop a hybrid framework.

Let us take a moment to remind ourselves that OTT is not restricted to video and audio alone. OTT begun with IP calling and instant messaging, graduated to streaming media (audio & video), diversified to e-commerce, and then to on-demand content. Imagine a consumer's plight while determining the best in each of these formats. WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype, WeChat, Viber, FaceTime, and Google Duo; all these apps essentially solve the same purpose, yet they are all installed and used by the same consumer on the same device.

What if such redundancy also migrates to other OTT formats such as video and audio! What if the consumers must bring themselves to a point where they have to keep just one or two apps from amongst SoundCloud, NetFlix, Pandora, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Hulu, HBO Now, etc.! It would indeed be difficult for generic OTT distributors to earn a place in the installed app list of most mobile users.

That is where I recognize the necessity for a hybrid OTT app. What would you call a user who could watch on Amazon Prime, hum on Amazon Music, and shop on amazon.com at the same time on just one app? Powerful, right! I am essentially suggesting a single application that supports multiformat OTT content. Combinations of audio and video content, or video and e-commerce could be offered on a single app and be made accessible to consumers on a single account.
Let us evaluate how content distributors can reap the benefits of a hybrid OTT app.

Just one app instead of three or four could save cost, time, and effort of developing, hosting, promoting, and maintaining the app.

Multiple content from related categories at one place is an excellent formula to improve customer engagement significantly. This in turn should contribute toward generating brand affiliation, and subsequently brand loyalty; and would help retain subscribers in the long run.

It is an established fact that the more time a user spends at the point of sale, better are the chances of a purchase. So, enhanced customer engagement would also mean improved revenue. Content distributors could therefore expect significant development toward maximization of average revenue per user (ARPU).

A hybrid OTT app shall also allow content distributors to generate revenue by cross-selling. A visitor who browsed for OTT video on the hybrid app might also express interest in relevant merchandise and collectibles. Imagine a Marvel enthusiast, while watching Avengers is prompted to purchase Captain America action figures on the same page. Does it not open a broader opportunity window to achieve improved ARPU despite the user being on a subscription model!

A hybrid OTT platform would help reduce bounce rate because it is less probable that a visitor would not be interested in one out of 3–4 solutions as opposed to just one offering in the catalog. So, one could expect improved user action in a hybrid app.

In my opinion, hybridization will prepare OTT content platforms for the future. Based on the forecasted changes in OTT consumption pattern, it is highly recommended that OTT content distributors develop a hybrid framework. It is time players in the OTT space go hybrid and sensitize the consumers to a consolidated ecosystem. Parallely it would also encourage content owners to diversify into more than just one OTT content format.

What is in it for the End User?

A hybrid app would allow faster navigation through the app and let them browse much broader content. End users would no longer have to toggle between apps to access and consume related content. Factors such as device storage and processor capability have already started influencing the fate of mobile apps. As an effort to reduce consumer effort and to consolidate solution offering, it is necessary to develop a work around that could streamline the consumption pattern and distribution of OTT content. Hybridization of OTT apps can make this happen.