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The second wave of over-the-top (OTT) video is underway, and in response owners of premium media assets are building end-to-end scalable, modular, and secured audience engagement ecosystems. The OTT workflow is highly complex compared with traditional TV and video consumption platforms, which can be attributed to the delivery of personalized content to viewers anytime, on any device. Although the personalization of the user experience and seamless management of multiple monetization approaches are the primary focal points, achieving faster time to market is also pivotal in the highly fragmented OTT video landscape. Consequently, premium media asset owners are embracing specialized video service providers that facilitate the streamlining of the video app creation to distribution value chain. For some time, both IBM and Cisco have led the market in facilitating media enterprises' embarkation on the digital transformation journey. IBM and Cisco have each recently acquired a cloud-based video services vendor – Clearleap and 1Mainstream, respectively – to strengthen their positions in the OTT video segment. Ovum believes that as OTT video becomes mainstream and enterprises face the challenges of building new multiscreen digital services, the value of functionality supported by firms such as Clearleap and 1Mainstream will only grow.

Multiple monetization management, scalability, and a secure, personalized UX are crucial in the OTT world

Managing OTT video services is cost intensive, involving complex workflow orchestration and tight integration with internal and external systems in order to meet next-generation business requirements. The shift of media enterprises toward audience- and OTT-first strategies will generate demand for

  • interoperability with user lifecycle management, payments, advertising, and content management solutions to deliver robust multi-monetization revenue models

  • continuous peak and non-peak audience viewership pattern monitoring services, tied up with scalable infrastructure, to reduce churn

  • end-to-end secured content lifecycle management to improve the ROI of premium media assets and reduce revenue leakage

  • transferring user interface on the cloud rather than the video apps to deliver an uninterrupted, personalized multiscreen (OTT as well) experience

  • a tightly embedded analytics module that supports the entire user lifecycle and the shift to predictive insights about consumer preferences.

Although Clearleap and 1Mainstream have diverse video service portfolios, both support one of the core objectives of both IBM and Cisco: to provide cost-effective, highly automated personalized video-as-a-service offerings. The Clearleap acquisition complements IBM's hybrid cloud and analytics capabilities, and also brings advanced video asset management (via an open API framework hosted on in-house data centers), capacity testing and assurance, pre-embedded premium video service analytics, and a base of reference customers (including HBO, A+E Networks, the NFL, BBC America, and Sony Movie Channel). IBM plans to deliver Clearleap APIs on IBM Bluemix to accelerate the launch of new multiscreen video services for premium media asset owners.

Similarly, 1Mainstream supports Cisco's cloud-based Infinite video platform and streamlines the OTT video workflow for tier-1 and tier-2 premium media asset owners such as broadcasters and content aggregators. These media enterprises can leverage the app templates (a website-type interface), web-centric credit card billing, pre-roll ad insertion, and third-party APIs for online video delivery platforms (OVPs) and analytics modules, to deliver a seamless user experience on multiple screens at a lower cost. This purchase also adds a unique media and entertainment (M&E) customer base that includes Young Hollywood, ACC Digital Network, Universal Sports Network, and Acacia TV.

Although both Clearleap and 1Mainstream have diverse service offerings, they fill a vital gap in the OTT and multiscreen video ecosystem for IBM and Cisco respectively. These acquisitions also reassert the importance of OTT video becoming a crucial monetization avenue in the short to medium term.



Kedar Mohite, Senior Analyst, Media & Broadcast Technology Services

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