IPTV recovers its mojo

Walking the floor at last year’s IP&TV World Forum I was struck by the general air of despondency amongst IPTV companies. There were some serious doubts being expressed about basic rudiments such as business models and standards. At the heart of this diffidence was the 3 letter acronym – OTT. Many were still trying to get a handle on what, precisely, the rise of OTT meant for them. 

Fast forward a year and at this year’s Forum there was a much greater air of confidence amongst those I talked to in the managed IPTV sector. Unlike last year, the positive message for IPTV was being relayed consistently, as many executives sang from the same (or a similar) hymn sheet. The story was consistent from stand-to-stand, presentation-to-presentation. While recognizing that OTT can still pose them a threat, several pro-IPTV messages were being pushed.  

When I, rather mischievously, asked some key players for “10 reasons why IPTV is better than OTT”, they fairly tripped off their tongues. “IPTV’s managed services provide a quality of service that OTT cannot replicate”…“Managed IPTV services control the customer relationship – facilitating greater personalization and targeting”…“The supplier-customer relationship is needed to bolster confidence in the user – if there’s a problem it’s obvious where to go to resolve it (unlike OTT)”…“IPTV can deliver high definition (HD) content, while OTT has HD limitations”…“IPTV can leverage bundles”…“IPTV has programming supply partnerships in place – giving them the edge over OTT in content”…“Linear TV is still highly attractive – and most efficiently delivered over a managed network”…“Managed services are best positioned to integrate new initiatives, such as apps/widgets, into the viewing experience in a seamless and consistent way”…“OTT needs a pipe to be carried to the customer – and we control it”…“OTT can be one component of an IPTV-led converged entertainment option.” 

Despite the undoubted and ongoing successes of OTT, there is no longer a fear that OTT will somehow sweep IPTV away before it. Nothing fundamental has changed, just the IPTV players now understand OTT a little better. Last year OTT still possessed the air of a mysterious, and dangerous, newcomer. This year its place in the IP-based video environment is clearer – meaning it is not only better understood but also, if handled correctly, being embraced as a potential partner.


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