Building Scalable OTT TV Networks

As someone who provides television services to others, you obviously want to make sure that your applications, services, and more are all as modern and user-friendly as they possibly can be. That can only happen, however, if you take care to choose the right services to partner with and through which to offer your own services and if you take care to build truly scalable OTT networks that can be enjoyed by all of your consumers. In order to make that happen, you will need to know and understand a few things that can greatly help you along the way.
Know Your Number of Users
To start off with, you absolutely need to have a clear idea of the number of users that you are offering services to. Obviously, your network is going to be quite different if it's built for a hundred people to access than if it is built for a thousands of people to access. Your network, how it operates, and its capacities should reflect the number of people who will be using it, so figuring out your numbers should definitely be one of the very first steps in the process of building a scalable OTT network.

Of course, however, as with any business, one of your main goals should be growth and expansion. You don't want to start with a small number of customers and then stay there. You want to expand your client base, as well as the services you offer. So, though you should build your network with the numbers in mind, you also want to take care to build it in such a way that it can easily be modified to accommodate more customers and more services being offered. Making easy expansion possible from the start will save you a lot of stress and hassle later on down the road, especially if you end up experiencing a large growth at some point.
Your OTT Platform
If you're like most businesses,then you are probably using some type of OTT solution to offer your services, not just doing everything on your own. If you are doing everything on your own, know that that is quite risky!

While it is definitely advisable to have a service to help you, that service should be very experienced and also very versatile in terms of what it offers you. Some of the things that a good OTT service should offer in this modern day and age include:

  • End to End OTT
  • TV Everywhere
  • Connected-TV apps
Make it easy on yourself and improve your chances of success by choosing to work with a service that allows you to offer all the latest technologies to your clients. It's important that you be able to get these things all from one provider so that you're not bouncing around, trying to pay lots of different services and deal with different services, creating a lot of hassle for yourself in the process.

Data Gathering
While building your network is incredibly important, keep in mind that you also need to be doing something else with your network and the services that you offer: gathering data, such as number of views, visits and preferences. If you don't know what services your users are actually taking advantage of, then you cannot possibly know what services to continue, which ones to get rid of, and what kinds of content you need to be expanding upon.

While you can gather data on your own, be aware that doing so takes a lot of work and knowledge, so it can be quite difficult to do on your own. It's much better to hire a service that will gather user data for you so that, as you build your network, you can also gain knowledge that will enable you to acquire new clients, keep the clients you have, and, of course, increase your revenue.
No Failover
Something you will want to avoid as you build your network is failover. Failover is what happens when an application or service doesn't work, for whatever reason, so, instead, a different, standby server or other technology takes it place. Most services will charge you a lot of money for relying on failover operations. Plus, this can be annoying and cause delays and other problems for consumers, which will often make them look elsewhere for a better, more capable network.

When choosing a service, be sure to ask about what failover strategies it has in place, as well as what steps it takes to keep failover from happening. A good service will very rarely, if ever, have failover, and will do everything within its power to keep failover from happening and disrupting your business and your clients' experiences.
Manage and Deliver Content
As an OTT provider, one of your main jobs is to be able to deliver desired content to your customers. However, you need to always be in control of what is delivered and how. Some content, obviously, will require additional payment while other content will be free. In any case, you need to ensure that you are in full control of which content is free and which content costs money and that you are also in full control of how and how quickly the desired content is made available, as well as across what platforms.

Obviously, the more content you can offer and the more platforms you can offer it on, the better, but even more importantly, you need to be able to control and effectively manage what you are offering via your OTT network, and your ability to do that ultimately boils down to the service that you have chosen.
Self-Managed or Fully-Managed?
Thus far, there has been a lot of discussion about what types of services you should use and how to select those services. It must be mentioned, however, that self-management of your own services is possible. However, building your own network from scratch and then taking care of and maintaining it is certainly not easy.

The best advice is to absolutely ONLY choose this option if no other good options are available, which is unlikely, or if you know that you have a team that will be able to self-manage the network properly and fully. As mentioned previously, this is a risky move but certainly not impossible, so give it some thought, and remember that you can still use the tips supplied here to help strengthen your own self-managed network if you decide to go that route.
Look at What Others are Doing
If you do decide to go with a service to help you offer your own services, then take the time to do some serious research. To begin with, look at what services your major competitors are using. You don't have to do exactly what they do, but you should know what features their services allow them to offer and then, in return, make sure to find a service that allows you to offer something just as good, or, even better yet, something better.

Even if you are going the "do it yourself" route, you should still be aware of what your competitors are doing. That way, you can attempt to match their moves and "one up" them.

The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of television providers out there, and the competition is fierce, especially with so many big name television providers. However, by keeping your prices affordable, staying on top of "what's hot" and offering your customers everything they could want, you can stand a chance against the "big guys" or even the "little guys" that have beat you out for customers in the past.

It's all about knowing your market inside and out, and, at the same time, knowing your competitors and what you're up against so that you can overcome them.
Build Loyalty
In addition to ensuring that you are offering your customers everything they could possibly want, you also want to work as hard as you can to build loyalty to your network. One of the easiest ways to do this is by offering something that no one else has. This, again, goes back to the whole research aspect; if you know what your competitors are offering, you can offer something that they don't. Even if it's something as simple as offering a show on demand that others don't, this little move could win you legions of loyal customers who love that show. Make these "little moves" enough, and you could end up with a wide range of customers/fans who wouldn't dare go to any other service provider.

You can also build loyalty by interacting with your clients whenever possible. Use social media to keep your name and your brand in the forefront of your customers' minds and to advertise new products and services.

Make sure, as well, that you have a great customer service team that will swiftly handle issues that your clients have in a friendly and polite manner. Poor customer service is what causes a lot of people to leave the big name providers, so by beating those providers out in terms of customer service, you can actually win a lot of loyal customers who will stick with you and your service through the long haul.

Obviously, building a scalable, reliable, thoroughly excellent network and, even more importantly, a network of people who are dedicated to it, is not easy, but it CAN be done if you are willing to follow the tips presented here and to do everything within your power to make your network the best that it can be. Your hard work will be rewarded, so take this advice and start using it right away.