India has taken giant strides in terms of digital adoption, enabling over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, Saavn, Amazon Prime, and nexGTv to capture the whims and fancies of a burgeoning base of content consumers across the country. With local audiences quickly moving to smaller screens with greater diversity of content, one thing is clear—the user experience is arguably the most significant factor that determines an OTT player’s success or failure.

Today, OTT providers, both new market entrants and established players alike, have to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of modern-day consumers. We believe that it will require a two-pronged strategy—understanding the consumer and integrating Content Delivery Network infrastructure within their operations—for them to become the proverbial apple of the eye in the emergent market.

Understanding the modern content consumer and living up to their expectations

Consumers today are no longer hindered by limitations of television schedules, location, or content availability as multiple options are now available to them at a touch of a button. This has also made the audience more demanding when it comes to user experience, expecting nothing less than a seamless service experience across all connected devices.

The State of the User Experience 2017report, a recent survey that Limelight Networks undertook, revealed that nearly half (49.1%) of the global users contacted are likely to abandon a website or a content-based platform if it fails to load within 5 seconds. This figure quickly jumps to 66.6% in India—pressing on the urgency to maintain agilecontent delivery, especially when the other alternative is barely a few clicks away from the customer. Also, as OTT providers cater to a growing international audience, theyneed to ensure that they have reliable global infrastructuresupport with end-to-end server deploymentsfor a superlative content delivery.They have to, moreover, counter dynamic challenges in quality and service transmission, including flash crowds, service disruptions, scaling of operations, and cyberattacks in order to maintain stickiness with today’s consumers.

Saying ‘I do’: Integrating Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) with OTT platforms for effective delivery 

CDNs, a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and data centers,are gradually entering the scenario to counterthe wide-ranging snags that OTT platforms have to face in service delivery.They leverage sophisticated systems and technologies to deliver the desired content with unmatched personalisation for all end-users.

This objectiveis achieved by maintaining the availability of the desired content across source and destination, detectingdevice, platform, and prevailing network conditionsof an end-user, and then customising broadcast settings to offer optimal viewing experience under these constraints. Leveraging a global private network comprising a fiber optics framework, CDNs also effectively resolve impediments such as network congestions in the public internet.

Beyond service delivery, integrating CDNs within OTT networks also facilitates dynamic service enhancementsby gathering user-centric consumption information foranalytics.  This helps OTT platforms derive actionable insights for business decisions,while simultaneously unlocking new avenues emerging within the market. CDNs, thus, are of paramount importance to ensure a seamless user experience, encourage the growth of a loyal userbase, and in ultimate success of an OTT provider, especially in developing markets such as India, where consumer options abound.

Looking ahead

Even as OTT players find it more challenging to stay ahead of the curve in the highly competitive market, their strategy needs to go beyond curating and procuring compelling content, and include the integration of CDNs—a much-needed catalyst for any over-the-top platform’seventualsuccess in the digital arena.

The author is Sales Director, India & SAARC Nations, Limelight Networks


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