Sushant Rai , Managing Director – Sales , S. Asia & GM- S Asia , Harmonic India

Asia-Pacific OTT revenues from TV episodes and movies will reach  USD 24.41 billion in 2022; triple the  USD 8.27 billion recorded in 2016, according to the latest Research and Markets report. Pay-TV operators in the Asia-Pacific market have an incredible opportunity to boost monetization through the delivery of OTT services. At Harmonic, we expect video quality of experience (QoE) to become a differentiator for OTT service providers in 2018.

Today’s consumers expect the same quality for OTT services as they do for traditional broadcast. Some service providers have tried boosting QoE for OTT services by lowering the profiles rate. However, this approach has been shown to decrease video quality, especially if it requires using very low-resolution profiles. Using content-aware compression solutions service providers can resolve this issue, reducing the bandwidth for live streaming by 50 percent while improving QoE. As traditional service providers like cable and satellite operators launch OTT offerings, content-aware compression solutions will play a critical role in delivering superior QoE, with lower latency.

Resolving latency issues is important for delivering high-quality live streaming, especially during premium sporting events. Latency for live OTT content averages 30–60 seconds, compared with less than 5 seconds for terrestrial and satellite delivery networks. The presence of latency during a live sporting event can ruin the video streaming experience, and content-aware compression solutions are designed to ensure that does not happen.

Another key video delivery trend for 2018 involves using cloud-based delivery approaches for the distribution of geo-targeted content and ad replacement. Last year, we saw OTT providers relying on cloud SaaS solutions for media processing and video delivery. Cloud SaaS solutions offer a great advantage over hardware-defined video architectures, which are costly to deploy and maintain, and can be exceedingly complex. With cloud SaaS solutions, OTT providers can greatly boost their agility, flexibility, and scalability, launching new services in a matter of hours, as opposed to months.

Next year, we anticipate that pay-TV operators will rely on the cloud to support dynamic ad insertion for live and VOD OTT streams, thereby increasing OTT monetization. At Harmonic, we have already demonstrated how ad stitching via the cloud offers the accuracy and seamlessness of television, making ads relevant to the viewer through hyper-targeting.

Moreover, distributing local or regional channels connected by the Internet will gain significant traction in 2018. As broadcasters look to take advantage of OTT revenue opportunities, a key challenge they face is how to prepare and distribute OTT-ready local broadcast channels to MVPDs. For skinny bundles to be relevant and compete with traditional pay-TV offerings, local or regional channels need to be included.

This process becomes complicated in terms of inserting unique station data (SCTE signaling) for rights management, blackouts, and local ad insertion, especially taking into consideration that the technical environment of every broadcast station is very different.

Using a cloud-based broadcast affiliate aggregation and distribution solution, broadcasters can seamlessly create schedules and manage content rights, distributing OTT-ready local feeds to MVPDs by leveraging the public Internet and the cloud. This type of solution can be used for insertion of unique station data (SCTE signaling) for rights management, blackouts, and local ad insertion, and to ensure exceptional video quality.

2018 is going to be an exciting year for video delivery innovations. By deploying content-aware compression and cloud SaaS solutions, pay-TV operators and broadcasters can deliver pristine video on every screen, with low latency, increase efficiencies, and monetize their OTT offerings via capabilities like targeted advertising and local channel distribution.