Monday, October 7, 2013

To Apple TV And Others - How To Win The OTT Box Wars

For OTT Set Top Box companies that work with cable operators, TiVo, XBox and some others, their key has been enabling authenticated viewing for cable customers to enjoy their cable TV programming.  Most still rely on a CableCard to authenticate users.  But the challenge for Apple TV, Intel Media, Roku, Amazon (and their recent announcement of their intent to build a set top box) and others, remain gaining access to content.  Content is King.  But so far, offering Netflix, Amazon Prime, You Tube or other content hasn't been enough to gain considerable market share.  Gaming boxes like Microsoft, and TiVo have done much better it seems in offering other content options to the value proposition.

So how can Apple TV, Intel Media, and others find content to make their boxes indispensable when cable and broadcast networks have been reluctant to deal given their current license fee agreements with cable and satellite companies.  They should look no farther than how cable got its foothold with the basic tentpoles of content: sports, news, and music.

For some of these OTT companies, price is no issue, and so it is time to think big.  Regarding sports, I would recommend reaching out to the NFL.  For football fans, the DirecTv Sunday Ticket has been most desired by the cable companies.  They would love to take the deal over from DirecTv.  Apple, Intel, Amazon, and Microsoft all have the resources to compete for this contract.  And the football fan has proven that they will pay for access to these games.  Plus offering it in a stream allows these companies to bring added features including multiple camera angles, box in box, and other viewing options. 

As to news, it is time to build a national news network.  The model worked well for CNN when it first started out.  Offer young reporters a chance to be discovered, invest in regional coverage, and follow the Ted Turner blueprint to create a news network.  While certainly CNN didn't have the same competition when it started, there is an advantage in streaming and offering across all platforms.  Build loyalty through a TV Everywhere approach and be aggressive in news gathering and reporting. 

Music was the earliest to embrace streaming and an OTT set top box may not be able to reinvent this wheel.  Still, enabling ease of access, offering more concert coverage, and pushing new ideas is a great start.  That You Tube is developing its own music awards show to compete with MTV and others demonstrates that kind of creativity. 

So for streaming OTT box companies, there is in front of you a tremendous opportunity to compete with cable operators for consumers and users to your platform.  Content is king and I believe that acquiring special content like the NFL and building out tentpole programming will drive further acceptance of your devices and subscription services.  Major Cable Networks may be reluctant to work with you now, but other great content may still be worth pursuing.

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