News & Views

Nextv MENA : Challenges and opportunities for telcos going into OTT

The battleground of the future is about who owns the consumer.

On 6 October 2021 Jef Vandecruys, Managing Director MEDIAGENIX EMEA, took part in an interesting debate for Nextv Series MENA. He talked with Anthony Shiner, Chief Customer & Channels Officer at du telecom, about the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators going into OTT. du telecom is one of the two main telecom operators in the United Arab Emirates.

Watch the recording:

Some quotes from Anthony Shiner, du telecom:

About the closing gap between terrestrial and mobile networks

“The gap that used to exist between a terrestrial network and a mobile network is disappearing very quickly. 3G allowed us to view rich content on a mobile device. 4G made it possible to get streaming on a mobile device, similar to what you can get at home. Now 5G enables a 4 or 8K experience in most cases. So for most of the services there is almost no difference any more between a terrestrial and a mobile network. This means that OTT is leaving the house more aggressively than ever, in a richer format than it has ever done before.”

About challenges and opportunities

“We have seen an explosion of growth among streaming services. Interestingly enough, there is no noticeable change in the number of hours that households are consuming media. The only difference is that everyone is now consuming their own content instead of sitting together around one screen. This means that it is harder to stand out and reach the consumer with your content. People are voting with their eyeballs, and they increasingly vote for content that is unique to their tastes. They consume that niche content in addition to mainstream content. That is the challenge, but also the opportunity. You can address a specific segment, and the amount of data that you can capture makes it possible for you to better understand the viewer, and curate content to their specific needs.”

“It may not make a lot of commercial sense for us to be a content creator. We have big competitors in the region, as well as the global players. So we have to make a choice. With our scale, you need to make commercial partnerships, to bundle services. But you also need to make early investments in some content players. We did that with music-streaming service Anghami, the most successful regional OTT player today. On top of that, you need to be network savvy. We are now moving the cloud close to the consumers. This way we are using technology to optimize the user experience of streaming services, in a way only a carrier can. Steve Jobs once said that technology should never be the decision pivot point. The customer should always be the star, and technology should remain an enabler. That is the way we are managing our OTT. We start from customer wishes, their preferences, and the flexibility of their preferences, and we create the supporting technology.”

About the future of the industry

“The battleground of the future may not be about the content itself, but about who owns the consumer, or at least the front door to connect with the consumer in the most seamless way possible. Now there is a growing opportunity for us to become the aggregator of aggregators. That is all about owning the customer. But it’s also about driving simplicity for the customer. This value chain disruption is a very dynamic shift in the relationship between consumer and content, and in who’s playing what role in that value chain.”

“We went from a purely digital business to a link to the physical world. Look at e-gaming. On YouTube you can see stadiums and concert halls jampacked with people watching people play games. Human beings by their very nature are social beings, and they can only be digital for a limited period of time. Look at Amazon. They launched as a digital bookshop and eventually they opened a brick-and-mortar book shop. “

“OTT growth will probably come from sports and reality tv. Sport is in fact the greatest reality show there is. Nothing else captures the drama, the energy. Nothing engages the viewer so well. Sport connects the digital with the physical in a way other content hasn’t quite matched yet.”

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