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What History Can Teach Carriers and Service Providers About Running OTT Services

OTT Services

Remember back in the early noughties? When carriers owned the monopoly on content services and entertainment on mobile devices?

We were there at the time – around 2003 to 2008. Carriers wanted new ways to increase consumer spend on data and bring in new subscribers and entertainment and content seemed a good way to do it – so they brought it in-house.

In reality back then, it was very difficult to do anything outside of the carrier walled gardens. At that time, early adopters of mobile entertainment were all inside the walled garden, so if you wanted customers, you HAD to get your services on-deck.

In practice however, it didn’t really work out. We basically had people who understood networks and billing completely controlling all creative aspects of content and entertainment.

As a result, the revenue expectations weren’t really realised long-term and as soon as there were enough services ‘off-deck’, the customers followed. If you remember, that’s around the same time carriers began to move focus away from their on-deck portals (vodafone live, etc.).

So reading a story like the one below gives me a bit of deja-vu! How much do mobile carriers really know about successful OTT services from a consumer, technical and creative perspective? Especially if their overriding objective is entice customers to change carrier.

OTT video services emerge as focus for US mobile carrier strategies

OTT Services

I appreciate in many cases, the majority of this will be outsourced, but it’s still important for these platform or service providers to take care when structuring carrier deals so we don’t end up in the same situation as before.

If we learned anything from history, it’s that the carriers WILL always try for ultimate creative and logistical control over 3rd party services connected to their networks in any way. They are doing the same now with DCB – Direct Carrier Billing.

Whilst its a necessary requirement in many cases, it’s a kind of fishing trawl approach so in others, it just chokes the creative potential. Operators controlling 3rd party entertainment services just isn’t necessarily in the customers or the industry’s best interest.

However a full collaborative relationship levering the core skill and experience of each party – the provider with their experience of entertainment, customers and technology; and the operator with their optimised billing flows and trustful customer base – now that’s something powerful in the new OTT landscape.

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