OTT market may be headed for consolidation | Media Analysis | Business
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As direct-to-consumer (D2C) TV and video services proliferate, audiences have plenty of choice — but consolidation may be inevitable.

hulu 15 august 20171“Audiences can create customised blends of free and paid services via standalone and bundled propositions across all distribution channels,” said Ed Barton, chief research analyst at Ovum. “That we’re in a ‘golden age’ of television is a common topic of conversation. But with such an expansion in the number of TV and video services, a common question is how many can the market sustain?”

He noted that as Netflix and Amazon have demonstrated how a scaled subscriber base across multiple territories enables content investments beyond the wildest dreams of single-market broadcasters, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services have proliferated, charging roughly what Netflix does, but often for a significantly more limited content catalogue.

“There are likely to be casualties, such as NBCU’s comedy-focused SVOD play, Seeso, which is closing in the coming months, casting doubt on the genre-based approach,” he said. “But the launches continue, with CBS, Disney, Telefonica, and Facebook the latest to make significant D2C-oriented moves in recent days.”

It also doesn’t help that pay-TV providers have started launching OTT platforms, such as DirecTV Now, that replicate the channel line-ups and linear experience more commonly found via cable or satellite.

“To maintain access to the same breadth of content that was once achieved through a pay-TV subscription augmented by a SVOD subscription may soon require multiple subs: FTA TV or pay TV for some sport and early-window movies, Netflix for Netflix, and/or HBO for HBO, as well as some combination of up to, say, three more D2C platforms,” the analyst explained. “For example, a not-untypical young male viewer might look at CBS All Access for Star Trek (as new episodes are first shown online), WWE Network for wrestling, Amazon Prime for Amazon Video and Twitch Prime to stream games. Multiple services have fought to make sure they have at least one marquee reason to watch their service, such as House of Cards, Grand Tour, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Star Trek: Discovery. All of these are highly sought after by viewers and all made (or will make in the case of Star Trek) their debut on an exclusive basis on an OTT D2C platform.”

The bottom line? Something’s gotta give.

“Although it’s churlish to argue against an increase in consumer choice and significant evolution in go-to-market strategies, our concerns are whether services are doing enough to distinguish themselves from competing offerings and whether the market can sustain the majority comfortably,” Barton said.
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