In the age of Netflix, the audience has become comfortable watching on-demand videos. For content owners, launching their video streaming service has gone from good-to-have to must have.
If you are a content owner with a sizeable audience and rich video library and want to get your content on streaming devices like Android, iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV, you know you have a gruelling task ahead of you.
It’s best for you to go ahead with a SaaS platform to launch and manage your OTT apps. While choosing the right platform, it’s essential to pick one that aligns with your business goals and needs because this is going to be your base for everything: uploading, distribution, encoding, transcoding, content management, VOD and Live, monetization, analytics, promo & couponing, payment gateway, security, and user management.
An OTT platform, which powers your video streaming service, needs to have a myriad of features essential to help you launch, manage, monetize and grow your streaming service.
These are the core features you need to look into an OTT platform before zeroing down.
1. Content management system
The most important feature you need to look into is an efficient CMS that can help you in all aspects of video content management – importing, managing and curating content.
Upload & manage metadata
Easy ingesting (import from YT in a click) and uploading option (like FTP, MRSS feed) that saves a lot of time and less daunting for the content team to handle. Modify, add or delete meta tag for videos across all platforms from a single place.
Option to connect your social media accounts (like FB, Twitter, YouTube) with the platform and automatically distribute videos to your owned & operated properties + social accounts via a simple dashboard. This will simplify your content ops and save a lot of time.
The platform should provide you the flexibility to set your own content rules (that will allow or deny playback of your videos by geography).
Optimized for adaptive bit rates to deliver video to the user in the most efficient way possible and in the highest usable quality for each specific user (240p, 360p, 720p, 1080p, 4K).
Should be easy to organize content into a reusable playlist for publishing.
Ability to add logos or watermark to your videos for content security and protect content from piracy.
Cast & crew
Provision to manage entire movie/series details like an actor, actress, director, music director, genre, rating and more.
Providing the users the ability to download video and watch it in an offline mode is super convenient, particularly when they are on the go. Additionally, users can save on bandwidth playing offline.
Questions to ask: Can I limit access to my content by geography and devices? Is it possible to distribute content to social media accounts from the platform? Is it possible to schedule the publishing time in advance? Is it possible to import videos from YouTube? Can I create multiple playlists? Is it possible to add a logo to the videos? Is it possible to offer different bit rates?
2. Create & Publish the app
If the platform just provides an API, then it’s a humongous task to custom develop the apps across all the disparate platforms you want to reach. You end up spending a few extra hundred thousand dollars in hiring resources and getting it developed.
Look for a platform that has ready-to-use templates, options to customize and adapt your own theme to speed up the time to market. In this fast-paced world, spending a lot of time and money on developing custom and complicated OTT apps isn’t a wise investment.
Questions to ask: For which all platforms do you to create apps? How much time does it take to create and launch the apps? Is customization possible in templates?
How do you want to monetize your content? It goes without saying that your OTT platform should support whatever revenue model you choose. If you plan to run ad-supported VOD, then don’t forget the platform should have an inbuilt ad server where you can manage, prioritize and set up campaigns. It should support all ad formats like video, banner, native, overlay and interstitial.
In fact, you should choose a vendor that supports all monetization models – SVOD, TVOD or AVOD and ensure it gives you the flexibility within the platform as your business grows and adapts.
Value adds – Accepting recurring payments with your preferred payment gateway, ability to offer a free trial, coupon management by geography, setting up merchandise and promo offers.
Questions to ask: What all monetization models are supported in the platform? Can I set up the ads by myself? Can I do AVOD, SVOD, and TVOD at the same time? Is it easy to create and set up different subscription plans?
Analytics is the crux of your video business. Look for a platform that gives you metrics around multiple areas including video engagement (average playback, total playback, viewer demographic, device info etc), revenue (total revenue, new subscribers, total subscribers, total transactions), content performance, consumer engagement, install details across destinations.
Potentially the platform should give you the necessary insights to drive key business decisions.
Questions to ask: Can I export the data? How often are the reports updated? Can I get geo-based user consumption detail? Can I get the revenue data generated across platforms? Can I check active app installs?
5. Video player
A comprehensive player that’s nimble and gives the right user experience. Few things to consider here are
a) Continue watching list (Resume Playback from where the user left it) b) WebSRT and WebVTT based subtitle support, c) Support both VOD and Live Streaming (HLS) support d) Adaptive Bitrate Support with auto and manual bitrate switching e) Compatible with VAST, VPAID tags, Google IMA, Facebook audience network tag, f) Player should be customizable (include logo, change color of button and scrollbar)
Questions to ask: Does the player support both VAST and VPAID tags? Can the user resume video from where they left? Can users enable caption closed option? Can I run both Live and VOD content? Is adaptive streaming supported? Can I add a logo to the player?
6. User management
User management is a basic security essential for any organization. The platform should enable admin to control user access, onboard and off-board users, send reset password to users, cancel the subscription, refund users, update email address of users, set up rules and so on.
From user level, the key things to consider are – manage multiple profiles under a single account, offline viewing, and watch history.
7. IT – infrastructure
Cloud servers are more reliable than traditional servers. Ensure that the platform relies on a powerful cloud-based IT- infrastructure to provide the necessary servers and storage required to run your streaming service.
The server should be able to handle thousands of concurrent users at the same time without any latency issue and should be able to scale up with demand.
DRM (Digital Rights Management) and AES Encryption are the widely used security system which plays the crucial role in protecting the content from copyrights and curbing from unauthorized access of the content. Look for a platform that provides both these security options.
Low latency is the fulcrum for your streaming service to be successful. Video quality matters on every screen today, whether you are streaming VOD or Live content.
Any disruption in video quality can cause users to unsubscribe. The best CDN provides a great performance on a real-time basis. The platform should be using highly efficient CDN that aids you in giving the right user experience. It might be a good idea to gauge the platform’s bandwidth capacity before choosing.
An important aspect to consider is the amount of storage the platform provides in terms of the number of video files that can be accommodated. Some vendors offer a basic plan with restrictions on the numbers of video uploads.
Then there are platforms such as Ventuno that offer unlimited everything. As a content owner, you can upload unlimited videos, consume unlimited bandwidth, on board unlimited users and make unlimited transactions.
8. Social Sharing
With the surge in the usage of mobile devices, it’s evident viewers would like to share their fav content in their social circle (like Fb, Whatsapp, Twitter, Skype etc). This type of sharing helps promote your brand and attract more audience. So, a platform which enables social media integration is great to have.
9. Built-in marketing tools
This helps build enduring value for your website and apps. Built-in SEO helps you score higher in the search engines and sustain over time. A platform with this tool is always a value-add.
Evolving and adapting quickly as your priorities change requires a SaaS platform with flexibility. The ability to seamlessly customize & quickly build the extensions is needed.
Choose a platform that gives you the flexibility to add & customize features with ease.
As your business grows, you need From user support from your vendor in all facets training, troubleshooting, maintenance, and upgrading. Most importantly, the response has to be instant and you should be able to reach out to them via all mediums. (phone, chat or mail).
It’s necessary to choose a vendor that provides constant support and regular updates via your preferred medium of communication.
The Bottom Line:
Launching your OTT apps is a wise decision. This article is meant to help you weed out the lackluster choices in choosing a vendor, and ensure that you end up choosing the best OTT platform that meets your need.
Check out how Ventuno’s SaaS-based OTT platform can help you launch and publish your apps on all major marketplaces in 24 hours without any coding or help from IT team while simultaneously allowing you to monetize from day one.