Access to subscriber data: A big motive to go Direct-to-Consumer with your OTT app

Dimitar Serafimov| Tue Feb 26 2019 CET| News

In-app purchases in OTT

The OTT and SVoD landscape is more competitive than ever, which means that understanding your customers on a deeply personal level is the key to gaining an all-important advantage.


Why would you choose to skip the great OTT middleman?

Not so long ago, Digiday ran a great story on the reasons for and against selling OTT video direct vs using a third-party marketplace.

Nowadays, OTT service providers that deliver video via apps have a growing number of third-party distribution options. Marketplaces such as the iTunes App Store and Google Play gives you the reach and ensure that your app is available on almost every smartphone and tablet out there. Streaming video devices such as Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV offer similar app distribution on TV screens. Amazon and Roku are also channel resellers, which allows them to sell media companies’ apps as “channels” inside their own branded apps.

All of these distributors, whether it’s an app marketplace or channel reseller, allow users to subscribe through the distributor’s ecosystem (and billing system) instead of having to sign up directly with the OTT service.

Here comes the risk. Third-party distribution platforms give a limited view of who is actually subscribing and how they are using the apps.

Example: Providers that pick Amazon Prime Video Channels and The Roku Channel do not receive the email or credit-card information of those that have elected to subscribe. That information remains with Amazon and Roku, which also take a share of the revenue generated by their wholesale marketplaces.

To ensure they’re able to access as much subscriber intelligence as possible – and ultimately evolve, improve and expand their services over time, the biggest OTT video providers turn to big data.

The Sling TV case

A significant market player that is turning to its own data for sustained success is Sling TV. To compete on the current SVoD battlefield, the provider has tweaked its business model and re-crafted its underlying data stack based around comprehensive personalisation.

By creating a multi-layered data initiative coupled with an elastic business model, Sling TV stands to gain untampered access to its consumer data while building its platform gradually over time – a sustainable approach that could see the platform go from strength to strength in the coming years.

It seems that to thrive in today’s OTT world you need access to big data, and to gain access to big data, you need to go direct to consumer.

The Disney case

Distributing content to a platform at an international scale, with an incredible power to build, digest and use invaluable user insights offers the ability for a provider to use its platform and see what works best with its audiences. In doing so, a provider can invest funds in the kind of talent that once worked for its suppliers and create the content itself. And, entertainment colossus, Walt Disney is a testament to that very notion – retaining full control of its own data in addition to its own content, bypassing the giant distributors like Netflix and Amazon.

We live in the age of information and to truly thrive in SVoD or OTT, gaining full access to your data while maintaining control over the content you offer to your audience is essential to success, both now and long into the future.


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