OTT streaming platforms have become immensely popular among creators and businesses in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape with platforms being launched every day across the world.
When it comes to launching an OTT streaming platform, you generally have two options: buying or building.
- The first option involves establishing an in-house team dedicated to creating a platform from scratch.
- Alternatively, you can choose a vendor that provides a comprehensive end-to-end video streaming solution with white-label capabilities.
In many cases, content providers opt for an “off-the-shelf” end-to-end video streaming service vendor as it enables them to swiftly test the market and generate revenue. After thorough experimentation, they might consider developing their own in-house platform.
If you decide to purchase a end-to-end video streaming service, selecting the perfect one is crucial for your success. Your choice of vendor directly impacts user satisfaction, scalability, and ultimately, your bottom line. Given the multitude of options available in terms of features and service providers, making the right choice can be challenging, even for seasoned professionals.
This is where our definitive Buyer’s Guide for End-to-End Video Streaming Services comes in. We aim to provide you with comprehensive information that will empower you to find and evaluate the best solution to meet your business needs.
But that’s not all – we’ve also reached out to some of the industry’s leading end-to-end video streaming providers to gather their insights on the critical factors to consider when evaluating different platforms.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in and embark on this journey to find the perfect end-to-end video streaming service for your business.
There isn’t a one size fits all streaming vendor – there are a plethora of options to choose from so it is best for a customer to consider four things : its end user value proposition, the content owner obligations, its own business model and service management. A customer needs to consider its value proposition to end users and choose a set of streaming vendors that can support this end user value proposition.Reuben Verghese, CEO, Diagnal
If you’re a media company, content creator or producer, you’ll want to find a partner that can help you expand your reach, deepen engagement and fully monetize your content. Or if you’re an enterprise looking to unlock the power of video for your business, your streaming platform provider should have the tools needed to help you use video to attract new audiences, sell more products, engage and motivate employees, and grow your brand.Sara Griggs, VP Global Corporate Communications & Brand, Brightcove
Table of Contents
10,000 Foot View – What do you need to get off the ground?
Just like a successful shopping trip, finding the perfect video streaming platform requires careful consideration and a well-crafted list of essentials. It’s important to gather your decision-makers and brainstorm the key features you desire in your future platform.
Pro Tip: Always install and use your competitors’ apps to gain insights and understand the user experience they offer.
To assist you in the selection process, we have prepared a starter list of must-have features that are typically provided by most end-to-end streaming providers. These features are essential for a platform as you launch, grow, and ultimately succeed.
However, it’s worth noting that as you evaluate vendors and explore different options, your thoughts, requirements, and opinions may evolve based on the ever-changing offerings in the market.
Here are some key features to consider:
- Content Management System (CMS): A robust CMS allows you to efficiently organize, upload, and manage your video content, including metadata, categorization, and scheduling.
- Efficient Transcoding, Packaging, and Delivery: The vendor should offer you the appropriate video transcoding setup and suggest the correct codecs, bitrates, streaming protocols to deliver your videos.
- Security and DRM: Protecting your valuable content from piracy and unauthorized access is paramount. Look for features such as digital rights management (DRM) and secure streaming protocols to safeguard your content.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN): A reliable CDN ensures efficient content delivery to viewers worldwide, minimizing buffering and latency issues. Look for a provider with a robust global network for optimal performance.
- Video Players: Look for a customizable and reliable video playback solution that offers smooth streaming, adaptive bitrate technology, and support for various video formats.
- Analytics and Reporting: Comprehensive analytics tools provide valuable insights into viewer behavior, engagement metrics, and performance indicators. This data helps you make informed decisions to optimize your platform and content strategy.
- Personalization: The vendor should offer you a recommendation engine, discovery techniques, and an optimized search module for your apps.
- Monetization Options: Consider the monetization features available, such as ad insertion (AVOD), subscription models (SVOD), pay-per-view, and in-app purchases.
- Cross-Platform Compatibility: Ensure that the platform supports a wide range of devices and operating systems, including mobile devices, smart TVs, and web browsers. This allows you to reach a broader audience and provide a seamless viewing experience across multiple platforms.
- User Experience and Interface: A user-friendly and intuitive interface enhances the overall viewing experience. Seek a platform that offers customization options, easy navigation, personalized recommendations, and a visually appealing design.
- Scalability and Flexibility: As your platform grows, it’s crucial to have the ability to scale seamlessly to accommodate increasing user demand. Consider a solution that offers flexible pricing models and can adapt to your evolving needs.
- Customer Support: A responsive and knowledgeable customer support team is invaluable. Ensure that the vendor provides reliable technical support, regular updates, and ongoing maintenance to address any issues that may arise.
Remember, this is just a starting point, and you should tailor these features to align with your specific business objectives and target audience.
By continuously assessing and refining your requirements, you’ll be well-prepared to choose the ideal video streaming platform for your organization’s long-term success.
In the next few sections, we’ll visit this starter list, expand on them, and get the thoughts from industry experts!
To grow their OTT business, TV operators and service providers need an end-to-end, sustainable solution that addresses each step of the value chain. The solution must be flexible, offering a fast time to market, proven technologies, and around the clock monitoring of quality of service and quality of experience.Atika Boulgaz, EVP Global Communication, Viaccess-Orca
We are convinced that a full end-to-end solution is the best approach. Because then you will get the guarantee that everything will run and keep running smoothly. This results in a good end user experience. The alternative is that you’re going to pick and choose different vendors for different parts of the total required system and you then integrate all these components yourself. Such a system integration project requires the knowledge and experience about IPTV OTT, it will take quite some time and it delays the time to market. Simply said it is a struggle. So it’s better to work with a company that’s already have done this and keeps the system up to date.Frans Blommestein, CCO, MwareTV
A highly configurable white-labeled app, different tiers of personalization to fit growth stages, pre-integration with premium ecosystem components for a better user experience. Offering premium options to create an OTT service is one way for providers to carve out their niche in today’s market.Dr Neale Foster, CEO, 24i
Content Management System (CMS)
First up, content is king, right? And to manage all your content efficiently, you need a well-designed Content Management System or CMS.
A strong CMS plays a vital role in the success of video streaming platforms. Industry giants like Netflix, SonyLIV, Disney+ Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video rely on robust CMS’s to handle, catalog, and deliver their vast content libraries. When considering end-to-end video streaming SaaS options, it’s crucial to evaluate the following factors related to the CMS:
- Easy-to-use interface: The CMS should feature an user-friendly interface for efficient content organization and management. Tasks such as video uploading, adding tags and metadata (such as cast, directors, genres, ratings, etc.), uploading thumbnails, subtitles, trailers, and scheduling release times should be intuitive and hassle-free.
- Access control and security: It’s important to ensure that the CMS offers role-based access control, allowing different levels of access for various roles within your organization. This ensures that only authorized personnel can access specific content and features. For example, a curator might not be granted access to revenue metrics or sensitive financial information.
- Curation: curation refers to the process of deciding what is shown on the front-end to the viewers. In a proper curation tool, you can choose what rails to create, how many rails & tabs should appear on the mobile, web, large screen versions of the app, what goes into each rail, dynamically changing it based on geography and persona, etc.
- Search functionality: The CMS should provide robust search capabilities, allowing you to find content based on keywords, tags, and other metadata. This feature facilitates efficient content discovery and retrieval.
- Workflow management: A reliable CMS should streamline content management workflows, from content ingestion to distribution. It should offer tools and features that help automate and optimize various steps of the workflow. Additionally, the CMS should provide alerts and notifications to promptly notify you of any issues or failures, such as ingestion or transcoding failures, allowing for timely resolution.
- Integration with other tools: Many CMSs today integrate seamlessly with other essential tools, such as data and analytics dashboards, subscription and ad-insertion settings, and user management tools. While these features may not fall directly under the “Content” label, they are often grouped together on the same platform for easy access and comprehensive management of your streaming service.
By considering these factors when evaluating CMS options, you can ensure that you choose an end-to-end video streaming provider that empowers you to efficiently manage and deliver your content while maintaining control, security, and seamless integration with other crucial aspects of your video streaming platform.
Receiving content signals can be a challenge for customers who have licensing agreements with content providers but don’t have a digitized head-end to downlink signals. Look for a provider that offers a centralized headend to downlink digitized signals which they can ingest into their platform. The middleware’s CMS, CRM monetization interface and dashboard should be easy to use.Monica Logani, CFO, Yuvod
Video Transcoding, Packaging, and Delivery
No viewer wants to endure buffering, endure large start-up delays, or experience poor video quality. To ensure a great user experience, the content must be transcoded using the correct codecs, packaged into the right streaming protocols, secured with DRM, stored and then delivered using the best CDNs.
A top-tier end-to-end video streaming SaaS solution should provide the following features to ensure a highly performant video streaming service.
- High quality Transcoder, Packager, and DRM to ensure that your original content is transcoded at the right bitrates, packaged in the required streaming protocols, and encrypted with DRM to prevent piracy. Go here to learn more about transcoding.
- Support for Live & VOD streaming: Depending on your business model, you might need live streaming (news, sports) or only VOD (movies and episodic content), or both! Ask the vendor if they support live, VOD, and variations such as UGC (vertical videos), etc. as per your business needs.
- Support for DASH and HLS: The provider should offer a variety of streaming protocols, such as HLS, DASH, and RTMP, to ensure compatibility with a wide range of devices and network conditions.
- Adaptive Bitrate streaming: ABR streaming (what is ABR) ensures optimal streaming quality by dynamically adjusting video quality based on the viewer’s internet connection. Nowadays, most video streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, Twitch, Hulu, SonyLIV, Zee5, etc. employs adaptive bitrate streaming to deliver a seamless viewing experience, regardless of the user’s bandwidth.
- Global content delivery: Look for a provider that offers a global Content Delivery Network or CDN (what is a CDN) to ensure low latency and fast content delivery to viewers worldwide. If you want to learn more about CDNs, then check out these articles on OTTVerse –
- Multi-device support: The streaming service should support a wide range of devices, including mobile, desktop, and smart TVs. Platforms like HBO or Netflix ensures its content is accessible on various devices, enabling viewers to watch their favorite shows and movies anytime, anywhere.
This could be a combination of premium VOD features, low latency live streaming, device reach, bandwidth efficiency and others. Smaller customers with predictable workflows will want to work with a vendor that has a solution off the shelf that requires low or zero touch. Larger customers with specialised workflows / requirements / differentiation needs will require a vendor streaming platform which can be customised and managed by video engineering teams, preferably via well documented APIs.Reuben Verghese, CEO, Diagnal
To ensure flawless streaming quality make sure the platform provider allows broadcast in full 1080P HD, implements user limits to preserve quality, has backup CDNs, and provides 24/7 customer support. Users want to view content from anywhere so look for multi-device compatibility. A Streaming platform is only as good as the quality of the stream. User limits reduce latency (lag) because the correct number of CDNs are in place to handle the audience size. If user limits are not implemented, there should be backup CDNs in place so streaming quality is not compromised by a surge in viewers.Monica Logani, CFO, Yuvod
As consumer needs change, our technologies must change. Any modern platform should be ready to adapt to new formats, devices, and codecs, which means that it’s essential to find a vendor that will “future-proof” your channel. Any OTT provider should support the latest codecs, formats, and technologies, but the ideal partner will also be thinking about the future.Lionel Dreshaj, CEO, Setplex
An important part of a good quality of service of an IPTV OTT service is the CDN, the content delivery network. The CDN is part of the total system and takes care of the actual streaming of content to the end users device. The CDN might be implemented on-premise, or a private CDN, or a public CDN can be used, for example Akamai. The last one has the advantage of a worldwide coverage, with backup facilities if local PoPs are not available and is prepared for peak usage, like with the world cup football final. 100% uptime guaranteed.Frans Blommestein, CCO, MwareTV
DRM & Content Protection
Securing your content and protecting it from unauthorized access is paramount in the world of OTT streaming. To safeguard your valuable assets, it is crucial to consider digital rights management (what is DRM?) and content protection features when choosing an end-to-end video streaming SaaS vendor.
Read OTTVerse’s comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to DRM to learn more about content protection.
Here’s why these aspects are essential:
- DRM Implementation: DRM technologies prevents piracy and unauthorized distribution, safeguarding your content’s value and protecting your revenue streams. By implementing DRM, you can control who can view your content, when they can access it, and on which devices, ensuring that your content remains secure throughout the streaming process.
- Wide Range of DRM Support: Look for a streaming platform that supports multiple DRM standards, such as Widevine, FairPlay, and PlayReady. This broad compatibility allows you to reach a wider audience across different devices and platforms while maintaining content security.
- Watermarking and Forensic Watermarking: Watermarking is an effective technique to deter unauthorized distribution and identify the source of content leaks. By embedding unique identifiers within the video stream, you can track any unauthorized copies back to their origin and take appropriate action. Forensic watermarking takes this a step further by embedding invisible identifiers that survive transcoding, enabling you to trace leaked content to the exact user or device responsible.
- Geoblocking and IP Restriction: Geoblocking and IP restriction features allow you to control the geographic regions in which your content can be accessed. This is particularly crucial when you have licensing agreements or content distribution restrictions for specific territories and need to prevent unauthorized access to content.
- Secure Video Player: A secure video player is required to protect against unauthorized capture or copying of the content. Features such as secure playback, encrypted communication channels, and device authentication help prevent piracy attempts and maintain content integrity.
By considering DRM and content protection features in your end-to-end video streaming SaaS solution, you can safeguard your content, protect your IP, and maintain control over its distribution. These measures not only protect your revenue but also establish trust with content creators, licensors, and viewers, ensuring the long-term success of your OTT streaming platform.
To learn more about DRM, check out the following articles on OTTVerse –
- What is DRM?
- EME, CDM, CENC, AES – Building Blocks of DRM
- Apple FairPlay Streaming DRM
- Google Widevine DRM
- Microsoft PlayReady DRM
- Multi-DRM – Why Is It Critical To Your Service?
- Glossary of DRM Terms
You want to protect your investment, whether it’s original or licensed content. To keep your content from being pirated or copied, find a partner that has implemented studio-quality DRM (digital rights management). That will give you peace of mind for your own content, while showing potential licensors that their content will be in good hands.Lionel Dreshaj, CEO, Setplex
The OTT service must be well protected from various security threats and illegal piracy. Through security services, such as AI-based dynamic watermarking, monitoring, breach detection, password sharing, CDN leeching, and legal investigation into piracy for both live and on-demand content, operators can prevent cybersecurity issues and piracy across the content distribution chain, from the service delivery platform to the end-user device.Atika Boulgaz, EVP Global Communications, Viaccess-Orca
A customer needs to consider the obligations it has to content rights owners which could include video security requirements like DRM, watermarking, session control. These typically involve adding other vendors to your video pipeline provider so integration costs and ongoing licensing need to be considered.
Reuben Verghese, CEO, Diagnal
Multi-platform Playback Apps
When evaluating End-to-End Video Streaming Vendors, the importance of apps cannot be overstated. Apps play a crucial role in delivering seamless video streaming experiences to users across different platforms such as mobile, TV, and web. They are the primary interface through which users interact with the streaming service, so it’s essential to carefully consider the features and functionality offered by these apps when evaluating vendors.
Here are some key aspects to look out for:
- Multi-platform compatibility: A prospective buyer should ensure that the vendor offers apps that are compatible with various platforms, including iOS and Android for mobile devices, as well as smart TVs (Samsung, LG), web browsers, and streaming devices (Roku, Fire TV, ChromeCast, etc.). Cross-platform compatibility ensures wider reach and accessibility for users.
- User-friendly interface: The app’s user interface should be intuitive, visually appealing, and easy to navigate. Users should be able to quickly find and access content, customize their viewing preferences, and perform actions such as searching, browsing, and managing their account settings effortlessly.
- Options to choose streaming quality or bitrate: Look for apps that provide smooth and uninterrupted video playback across different network conditions. Adaptive streaming capabilities are essential, as they automatically adjust the video quality based on the viewer’s available bandwidth, ensuring a buffer-free experience.
- Content discovery and personalization: The app should offer robust content discovery features, including personalized recommendations based on a user’s viewing history, preferences, and ratings. Look for features like curated playlists, genre-based recommendations, and the ability to create watchlists.
- Offline viewing / Downloads: Offline viewing is a feature that allows users to download videos and watch them later without an internet connection. This feature is particularly useful for users on the go or in areas with limited connectivity.
- Social sharing: Some apps include social features that enable users to engage with others, share their favorite content, and recommend shows or movies to friends. These social interactions can enhance the overall user experience and foster a sense of community within the streaming service.
- Device synchronization: Consider whether the app supports seamless synchronization across multiple devices. For example, if a user starts watching a show on their TV and later switches to their mobile device, the app should remember their progress and allow them to continue from where they left off.
- Accessibility and language support: Accessibility features such as closed captioning, audio descriptions, and support for multiple languages are important considerations, especially for inclusive streaming experiences. Check if the vendor’s apps provide comprehensive accessibility options and language support.
- Customization and branding: Depending on the buyer’s requirements, the app should offer customization options that align with their brand identity. This includes the ability to apply branding elements such as logos, color schemes, and custom app icons.
By evaluating vendors based on these important app features, prospective buyers can ensure that they select a vendor who provides a comprehensive and user-friendly streaming experience across multiple platforms.
Big screen video streaming is growing exponentially. Even if you’re not planning to launch apps on smart TVs straight away, make sure you’re dealing with a platform that’s got a track record on these screens because they’re a much bigger UX challenge than you might think.
Flexibility is key. Look for a platform with a cross-platform code base that lets you easily expand to new devices, and ideally it should have code-free app configuration so you are in control of your own UX and can easily adapt it to your changing needs.”Dr Neale Foster, CEO, 24i
Time to market. Once the decision is made to introduce an IPTV OTT service you would like to introduce the service as soon as possible to keep momentum. A 2 month time to market is sufficient to implement the platform, publish apps, prepare the billing system or web-shop and start marketing.
Frans Blommestein, CCO, MwareTV
More than ever before, consumers – especially millennials and Gen Z-ers – are using non-traditional devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles for content viewing. A content provider does not want to lose out on potential consumers of their content because they don’t offer an app for their audience’s preferred device. As a result, it’s important that a streaming platform offers apps that are available on multiple devices including IoS, Android, Android TV, LG, Samsung, Web browser, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, Roku, Xbox and PlayStationMonica Logani, CFO, Yuvod
Personalization, Search, and Discovery
Personalization, recommendations, and search functionality are crucial factors to consider when selecting an end-to-end SaaS streaming vendor. These features play a significant role in enhancing the user experience, increasing engagement, and driving customer satisfaction. Here’s why they are important:
- Personalization: The ability to personalize the viewing experience based on individual user preferences is key to keeping viewers engaged and satisfied. A strong personalization engine allows the platform to recommend relevant content to each user, making them feel valued and increasing the chances of continued usage. By leveraging user data and behavior patterns, personalized recommendations can lead to higher user retention and longer viewing sessions.
- Discovery: Recommendation algorithms help users discover new content based on their interests, viewing history, and similar user profiles. By providing tailored suggestions, a streaming platform can alleviate decision fatigue and help users find content they might not have discovered otherwise.
- Search: Whether it’s searching by title, genre, cast, or other relevant attributes, a comprehensive search capability ensures that users can navigate the platform effortlessly and locate the content they desire. A powerful search function also contributes to an enhanced user experience, as it allows for efficient content discovery and reduces user frustration.
- Push notifications: these serve as powerful tools to engage and retain audiences by delivering personalized updates, recommendations, and alerts. By sending push notifications, OTTs can inform users about new content releases, exclusive offers, upcoming shows, and personalized recommendations, keeping them informed and connected to the platform.
By considering vendors that prioritize personalization, recommendations, and search functionality, you can ensure that your end-to-end SaaS streaming solution offers a user-centric experience.
The ability to deliver personalized recommendations and seamless content search not only keeps users engaged but also increases their satisfaction, leading to improved retention rates, higher viewership, and ultimately, a successful streaming platform.
Read more about personalization here –
- Overcoming Choice Paralysis: How Personalized Channels Can Remove the Hard Work of TV Decision-Making
- Personalization and Responsible Use of Data
- How does Recommendation Work at Discovery Inc.?
- Curation Will Define the Future of Streaming
Naturally, your subscribers expect a great viewing experience. The right partner doesn’t simply understand the back-end technology – they ALSO understand subtle elements consumers expect. Don’t overlook a well-built recommendation engine, which will help customers discover new content, thus extending watch times and their loyalty.Lionel Dreshaj, CEO, Setplex
Viewers expect a simplified journey and intuitive user experiences. By adopting a unified service delivery platform with data-driven, actionable insights and customizable TV apps, service providers can optimize and personalize their TV offering.Atika Boulgaz, EVP Global Communication, Viaccess-Orca
The ability to offer great personalization and discoverability to your users is through high quality meta data and strong search capability. Look for a streaming platform that offers search and recommendation capability across multiple criteria (genre, actors, franchise, desired length of time, consumer’s frame of mind, etc.), has daily shuffle capability and offers voice-activated search.Monica Logani, CFO, Yuvod
Data and Analytics: Unlocking Actionable Insights
Running your OTT business without data is like driving blind down a German autobahn – you are going to crash! When considering an end-to-end video streaming SaaS solution, it is essential to prioritize comprehensive data and analytics capabilities. By unlocking actionable insights, you can make informed decisions, optimize performance, and drive revenue growth.
Here are the key features to look for:
- Comprehensive data and analytics: Your chosen platform should provide robust analytics covering crucial areas such as user engagement, content performance, and revenue metrics. Access to in-depth data in these areas empowers your teams to devise effective strategies, identify trends, and implement data-backed decisions that improve revenue generation and cost reduction.
- Real-time reporting: The ability to access real-time data is invaluable. Real-time reporting enables you to stay ahead of trends, respond promptly to changing viewer behaviors, and optimize content delivery and engagement in real-time.
- User behavior insights: The platform should enable you to track and analyze user behavior, including search queries, clicks, and interactions with the player. By understanding how users engage with your content, you can personalize experiences, improve content discovery, and enhance user satisfaction.
- A/B testing: While not commonly offered, the ability to conduct A/B testing of different content versions and player features can be a powerful tool. It allows you to experiment and determine which variations yield the most positive impact on user engagement, retention, and overall performance.
- Compliance: Ensure that your vendor adheres to industry standards like GDPR and CCPA, or any local laws applicable to your operations.
- Third-party integrations: Look for a platform that offers seamless integration with popular analytics platforms like Google Analytics. This integration provides a comprehensive view of viewer behavior, allowing you to combine data sources and gain deeper insights into audience preferences and trends.
Additionally, customizable dashboards and the option to download data for offline analysis are often offered by SaaS platforms. These features enhance flexibility and enable further exploration of data to uncover valuable insights.
To ensure data security and privacy, it is crucial to select a platform that includes robust access controls for data and dashboards. This helps maintain strict authorization levels, ensuring that only authorized individuals within your organization can access sensitive information.
Breaking through the noise is possible, especially if you’re creating highly targeted and personalized content. The right end-to-end streaming platform provider can help your company analyze integrated data signals like plays, impressions, views and time watched, which enables you to constantly learn from how your audiences respond to the content you create, understand what’s working and what isn’t and adapt.Sara Griggs, VP Global Corporate Communications & Brand, Brightcove
A data-driven, cloud-based service delivery platform with value-added solutions will enable service providers to engage audiences, monetize their content, and monitor streaming quality.Atika Boulgaz, EVP Global Communication, Viaccess-Orca
Read more –
- The Importance of Analytics in Sports Streaming – Important Metrics Explained to Grow Your Business
- Selecting a Video QoE or QoS Vendor
Monetization Services: AVOD, SVOD, and Hybrid Models
Monetization plays a key role for businesses offering video streaming services. Nowadays, many content providers use a mix of monetization strategies, like AVOD, SVOD, TVOD, and Hybrid models. For more details on how these monetization methods work, check out our comprehensive article on video monetization, which covers AVOD, SVOD, TVOD, PVOD, and Hybrid models.
Besides giving options to change and modify monetization mechanisms, end-to-end video streaming providers should also include user authentication and payment processing to safeguard content and revenue streams.
Here’s a list of features to consider based on your monetization strategy:
- Advertising-based Video On Demand (AVOD): This model earns revenue through ads shown to viewers. YouTube, for example, has built a huge business using the AVOD model. Ensure the platform supports dynamic ad insertion and offers detailed ad performance metrics.
- Subscription-based Video On Demand (SVOD): This model charges viewers a recurring fee for content access. Platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have successfully used the SVOD model. The platform should allow for flexible subscription plans and billing management.
- Hybrid models: Combining AVOD and SVOD lets you reach a wider audience and maximize revenue. Disney+ Hotstar, for instance, provides both ad-supported and ad-free subscription plans. The platform you choose should enable seamless integration of both models.
- User authentication: The ability to verify users and grant access to premium content based on subscription status or other factors.
- Payment processing: The vendor should support integration with multiple payment gateways, payment aggregators, and in-app purchase options for platforms like iOS, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and more, to securely process payments for subscription-based viewing. Also, consider localized payment methods for better traction e.g., UPI in India.
- Coupon Codes and Offers: It’s also important for your vendor to offer a coupon-code generation mechanism, so you can create special offers and discounts during important events and holidays.
Pro Tip: It is common to see end-to-end streaming providers tie up with other vendors who specialize in either ad insertion, or payment processing to provide features to you. This is perfectly fine – just make sure you enquire about 3rd party integrations and their costs before you sign on the dotted line.
Today’s OTT platforms need to support multiple business models. You may start with an ad-based model, but later shift to subscriptions. Or you may offer both subscriptions and VOD. Look for a partner that has multiple monetization tools available, one that supports “freemium” models, hybrids, rentals, and pay-per-view.Lionel Dreshaj, CEO, Setplex
A customer needs to look at its own business model and work out which vendors fit within the budget envelope that its monetization model allows. If your business model is primarily AVOD / FAST, its likely you will not be able to budget video features and video technology providers that a premium SVOD / TVOD service will be able to.Reuben Verghese, CEO, Diagnal
FAST, and the analytics it can produce, has been a powerful force as it gives operators 1) another business model to attract and retain customers (and advertisers) 2) provides a new level of audience visibility that some content owners and broadcasters never had before.Dr Neale Foster, CEO, 24i
Scalability: Preparing for Growth and Expansion
As your OTT service continues to grow, having a scalable end-to-end video streaming SaaS solution becomes paramount. The last thing you want is for your platform to crash when you’re streaming a popular movie, game show, or sporting event that attracts a large audience. Furthermore, as you expand into new geographies or markets, considerations such as localization and internationalization become crucial.
- Auto-scaling infrastructure: Ensure that the provider’s infrastructure has the capability to automatically scale and handle traffic surges. For instance, when Netflix releases a highly anticipated series or movie, their auto-scaling infrastructure enables the platform to accommodate increased viewership without compromising the streaming quality. Inquire about the vendor’s experience in handling streaming at scale and request specific details if available.
- Flexible storage and bandwidth tiers: Select a provider that offers flexible and cost-effective storage and bandwidth options as your content library and viewer base expand. As your platform grows, a significant portion of your costs will be attributed to CDN usage. Therefore, it’s crucial to negotiate a favorable CDN rate to manage expenses effectively.
- Support for multiple languages and regions: If your plans involve taking your OTT platform global, verify that the provider can effectively handle localization and internationalization requirements. This includes support for multilingual content, region-specific variations, and localization of user interfaces to cater to diverse audiences.
- High availability: Choose a vendor that can guarantee high availability and uptime through robust redundancy and failover mechanisms. Inquire about the vendor’s alert mechanisms, failover protocols, and redundancies in place to minimize service disruptions and downtime.
By considering these scalability features during vendor discussions, you can ensure that your chosen end-to-end video streaming solution can effectively handle the growing demands of your OTT service, whether it’s managing increased traffic, accommodating diverse linguistic and regional preferences, or maintaining uninterrupted availability for your viewers.
As your needs grow, you should be looking for companies with the infrastructure to grow with you. There’s nothing more frustrating than implementing a technology solution only to realize you quickly need to find a new provider as your audience grows and your needs change. Does your provider have a top tier CDN solution that will reach your customers across anyplatform? Can it perform on mobile devices and deliver 4k video to smart TVs? Thinking one step ahead can help you avoid the pain of changing OTT partners.Lionel Dreshaj, CEO, Setplex
Don’t paint yourself into a corner. Choose a solution that is right for you today, but also has the potential to scale as you grow. Modularity, a good range of partner integrations, and flexible APIs will help to ensure you don’t face the hassle of switching platforms down the track.Dr Neale Foster, CEO, 24i
Avoid premise-based equipment as it entails managing that hardware and updating it every few years, which is expensive and time-consuming. Instead opt for every piece of the streaming process (content, video processing and middleware) to sit in the cloud as it’s easier to deploy, more scalable and cost-effective. For trouble shooting, 24/7 support is crucial.Monica Logani, CFO, Yuvod
It can’t be understated that flexibility is key in the OTT environment. Video streaming technologies, trends, and viewer preferences are constantly evolving. Having a flexible, scalable solution that supports all delivery modes and video delivery on every screen via the cloud, on-premises and hybrid infrastructure will ensure that operators can adapt. The solution must also be compliant with the rights holders’, the industry ecosystem and standards.Atika Boulgaz, EVP Global Communications, Viaccess-Orca
Choosing a Proven & Experienced Partner
When assessing end-to-end video streaming SaaS providers, it’s vital to consider the vendor’s experience and reputation. If you’re on good terms with other OTT content providers, it’s a great idea to reach out to them and inquire about their vendors and gather insights on who performs well and who falls short.
- Industry experience: The provider should have experience working with businesses in your industry or vertical and be familiar with your market’s specific challenges and requirements.
- Technical expertise: The provider should have a deep understanding of the latest video streaming technologies and be able to offer guidance on technical issues and challenges.
- Reputation: The provider should have a strong reputation in the industry, with positive reviews and references from other businesses.
- Support: The provider should offer comprehensive support and guidance throughout the implementation process and have a team of experts who can offer ongoing support and maintenance.
First, and maybe most importantly, any OTT provider should be able to demonstrate a track record of successful launches and long-term stability.Lionel Dreshaj, CEO, Setplex
A customer needs to consider whether the vendor will be able to manage / prioritise customer servicing in production over the contract period with enough attention to the customer’s specific needs. Whether it’s a new content library to onboard, new devices entering the market, usage spike from live events or someone illegally retransmitting your stream, there is plenty for a video technology team to work on. Choosing a vendor who has a compelling roadmap, is able to advise based on region specific experience and has a team available to help when unforeseen incidents happen are key.Reuben Verghese, CEO, Diagnal
An end-to-end streaming solution is ideal because it avoids having to configure and manage multiple inflexible point solutions and integrate them with internal legacy workflows, which is expensive, inefficient, and rarely works perfectly. While many vendors say they provide an end-to-end solution, most of them provide only one or a few point solutions and then pre-integrate them with complimentary point solutions from other vendors. Be careful to do your research and look for a truly end-to-end solution as it will entail less friction, offer one point for trouble-shooting, work more smoothly and be less expensive.Monica Logani, CFO, Yuvod
Partnering with a technology provider that is experienced in launching OTT channels, both from a technology standpoint and from the customer support side, will ensure that everything goes smoothly.Atika Boulgaz, EVP Global Communication, Viaccess-Orca
Price: Balancing Features and Affordability
As with any decision-making process, once features have been assessed, pricing becomes the focal point. We all recognize the importance of price when selecting a solution, regardless of the industry. This crucial stage can make or break many deals! So, what should you watch for when negotiating and evaluating a vendor’s offer?
- Value for money: Examine the features and services provided, ensuring they correspond with the price. Always obtain quotes from multiple vendors to determine who offers the best value for money.
- Scalable or slab-based pricing plans: When launching a new platform, there’s no guarantee it will become an instant hit. In such cases, you need a pricing plan that grows with your success, enabling you to balance revenue and expenses. Many vendors offer scalable pricing options that accommodate global expansion, and this should be a top priority!
- Transparent costs: Choose a provider that clearly states all associated costs to avoid hidden fees and surcharges. Trustworthy and experienced vendors maintain transparency in their pricing structures and billing practices, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship.
A high quality of service at a reasonable price is important indeed. Now these days you see very high-quality platforms with challenges in their quality of service. As an example, in Holland you have Viaplay, that offers the Formula One racing. It is popular in our country because of Max Verstappen. There are a lot of complaints about buffering and that’s not what you want as an OTT provider. You need to offer a good service, high quality service at a reasonable price and that is what an OTT provider should look at.Frans Blommestein, CCO, MwareTV
While many companies are looking for a reasonably priced platform, sacrificing the stability of an experienced technology provider in exchange for saving a few dollars will greatly increase the likelihood of having to quickly repeat the process of finding a provider, and likely cost more in the long run.Lionel Dreshaj, CEO, Setplex
Pricing should be subscription-based, affordable and transparent so ROI can be easily calculated.
A streaming platform’s cost should mirror subscription revenue, which is earned over the life of a subscriber’s contract. Pricing shouldn’t be a black box. Look for vendors who offer transparent pricing and lay out all the features that are included in each price point so there is no guesswork on how much to budget and return-on-investment can be calculated accurately.Monica Logani, CFO, Yuvod
Choosing the right end-to-end video streaming SaaS provider for your OTT content provider business can be a daunting task. However, by doing some homework, working on your strategy, focusing and on the critical criteria we’ve discussed in this buyer’s guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision that will set your business up for success.
Good luck and we would love to hear your thoughts and comments in the Comments Section below. Until next time, happy streaming!
Finally, we would like to thank the following executives who took the time to offer their piece of mind to this article:
- Dr Neale Foster, Chief Executive Officer, 24i
- Sara Griggs, VP Global Corporate Communications & Brand, Brightcove
- Reuben Verghese, CEO, Diagnal
- Frans Blommestein, Chief Commercial Officer, MwareTV
- Lionel Dreshaj, Co Founder, Setplex
- Atika Boulgaz, EVP Global Communication, Viaccess-Orca
- Monica Logani, Chief Financial Officer, Yuvod
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar, Ph.D., is the Editor-in-Chief of OTTVerse, a news portal covering tech and business news in the OTT industry.
With extensive experience in video encoding, streaming, analytics, monetization, end-to-end streaming, and more, Krishna has held multiple leadership roles in R&D, Engineering, and Product at companies such as Harmonic Inc., MediaMelon, and Airtel Digital. Krishna has published numerous articles and research papers and speaks at industry events to share his insights and perspectives on the fundamentals and the future of OTT streaming.