The arrival of the internet has no doubt fundamentally changed the way we interact and consume our video content. Long gone is the era where we adhered to the programming schedules of TV or cable channels. We now have the uncanny ability to grab whatever, wherever, and whenever we want. This media service known as Over-The-Top, or OTT, bypasses much of the traditional providers. Today, it has evolved to a point where, even from the design phase, business models center themselves around this on-demand culture, adapting themselves to the new evolution of customers.
Among other areas, OTT has given rise to the appeal of short-form content, which caters to the audience demand that goes beyond UGC-generated content and vlogs to fully-fleshed narrative made by filmmakers. Short-form content fulfills the quality of filmmaker-made stories for audiences who have a short attention span, access to mobile devices and fast data, and more control over what they want to watch.
As a test-bed for new Intellectual properties (IPs), short-form content is a more affordable way of developing new content formats. This is especially essential in a space that is constantly evolving with new formats including vertical videos, interactive content, and socially shareable ideas. It also makes it possible for smaller service providers to capitalize at which they can offer accurate levels of customized content to their audiences at scale.
Amid these rapid changes, what then is the next step for OTT platforms and how will they evolve in the coming years? We dive deeper into how this may play out.
A dynamic shift in consumption trends makes OTT the juggernaut it is today. In addition, advancements in infrastructure, such as low-latency networks, plays an instrumental role in the rise of OTT. Applying this to how 5G networks are upon us, OTT platforms have much to gain as they can push the limits of what is possible, delivering new formats such as interactivity and opening new avenues of what was traditionally a one-way, static experience.
Furthermore, with an increased amount of bandwidth available, OTT platforms are able to generate greater amounts of data that can then be shared and subsequently processed to offer further personalization of content offerings. This makes it possible for smaller service providers to capitalize at which they can offer accurate levels of customized content to their audiences at scale.
The proliferation of film-making tools on today’s daily gadgets, such as laptops and mobile phones, has also given rise to a new generation of filmmakers. They come from a far more varied background as compared to solely being from the traditional film industry.
Viddsee, for instance, uses audience insights from over 4,500 short films on its platform to effectively use data to create a feedback loop that provides filmmakers the resources they need to sharpen their storytelling. Identifying which facets of their content resonates the best with their target audiences can pave the way for a story that not only captivates but is also dynamic to match.
This in turn helps the platform develop local content that we know co-production media companies, brands, and audiences will engage with. This local element is key component of our strategy, understanding that Asia is not a mono-cultural region but consists of a diverse set of cultural nuances, languages, and audience behavior that differs from country to country. Even two seemingly similar countries like Malaysia and Singapore or Indonesia and the Philippines have different watching patterns and favorites.
The proliferation of film-making tools on today’s daily gadgets, such as laptops and mobile phones, has also given rise to a new generation of filmmakers. They come from a far more varied background as compared to solely being from the traditional film industry, and have much to offer in terms of developing more relatable and diverse stories. With that, we are seeing a new supply of smaller-scale films being featured on OTT platforms, and this challenges the notion of creation that used to lie predominantly in the hands of larger-scale productions.
Today, they are able to carve out their own niche in the market by having readily available platforms to distribute their story to audiences at scale. Social media has already shown the demand for such content, with TikTok and Instagram Reels being hugely popular around the globe. Not to miss out on the action, we recently worked with TikTok, engaging them as our Social Community Partner during the Viddsee Juree Awards Philippines. It involved a series of activities that included creator workshops with local filmmakers, hashtag challenges, and live screenings of the finalists’ short films.
Living in a hyper-connected society, we see the lines between many things that used to considered entirely independent weaved together to form new tapestries of stories. In the context of OTT content, short and long are no longer competing for the same slice of market share, but have instead evolved to bring together and build whole new experiences for audiences to enjoy.
For example, OTT short-form platforms facilitate a testbed for original ideas and new talent to springboard off, which can then be plugged into a long-form partner that fleshes this out into a more extensive idea. This then comes full circle as short-form platforms can then again expand on this new proprietary content to create snackable or bite-sized versions that can be further shared among audiences. High smartphone and social penetration rates like those in Southeast Asia come into play here, as content is ‘curated’ by audiences resulting in new entrants discovering and then engaging with this proprietary content.
Catalyzing this cycle of discovery and immersion is the essence of what makes partnerships so prevalent in today’s OTT industry. Malaysian film, ‘Guang’, is a great representation of this. Awarded Best Feature Film at the 59th Asia Pacific Film Festival this year, the full-length feature film is actually based on the 2011 short film of the same name by the director.
In Asia specifically, we see this focus on partnerships being even more significant. The multitude of cultures we have make it such that there is an immense amount of stories just needing the right platform to be unearthed. Once becoming more widespread, we can then expect different takes and variations further enriching the types of content available, and in the OTT world where content is king, the value of this content cannot be understated.
Zooming out, we see Viddsee not as a competing platform against short-form social content, or OTT services with fully developed films and series, but rather one that complements the two mediums, and can act as an engine for developing new IPs and discovering new talent.
The current landscape is not one of winner-takes-all but one where different channels and providers complement each other. Stories have long been a social activity and we do not see that changing anytime in the future. Viddsee’s recent partnerships with OTTs across the region, including Mediacorp’s digital platform meWATCH, and Indonesia’s Vidio and RCTI+, illustrates how OTTs diversify their short-form offerings to viewers with a high demand for Asia-centric programs. Some audiences may consume content by themselves but proceed online to discuss and participate with their favorite content series.
Taking this forward and into the digital realm, OTT platforms can look to incorporate such social elements to ride on this aspect of consumption through watch parties and real-time interactivity. Allowing these symposiums of sorts to thrive, lead to the ignition of new ideas and collaboration between content creators to bring their ideas to life. As more and more content gets generated this way, it can only be beneficial for OTT platforms in the long run. Across the region, we are seeing a growth surge in the online media sector, according to the same e-Conomy SEA 2019 report. In the Philippines, the sector has recorded a 42% annualized growth rate since 2015, and in Thailand, the sector has been expanding rapidly at 39% CAGR since 2015.
The report noted that companies have expanded their scope across sectors to compete for user engagement, moving into new services, gamifying promotions, and streaming enticing content. With more competition, we will see more players choosing to collaborate with each other to diversify their content. In turn, this expansion of offerings will provide consumers with more choices and lower prices – a win-win situation for all.
The OTT platform of the future is one that recognizes this opportunity. By seamlessly weaving different formats of storytelling and business models, platforms are exposing audiences to other content through video advertising along the way. In turn, this will result in a never-ending chain of engagement that always keeps your audiences asking ‘What’s next?’ to which the answer can always be ‘so much more’.
Derek Tan will be speaking at the virtual BroadcastAsia, an event part of ConnecTechAsia – happening from 29 Sep to 1 Oct 2020. He will be speaking on the topic of The Future of Entertainment Technology.
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