10 Trends in the OTT market in 2021

  1. New Content will still be King

With the constraints on the movie and TV production industry with the global pandemic, there is a challenge for many production houses in bringing new content to market. Many scheduled productions have been delayed or release dates put back due to Covid, but the reward for launching new content is substantial as more and more consumers sign up to VOD services as they are forced to spend more time at home.

Netflix has evidenced this with its recent promotion of releasing a new film each week in 2021, the likes of Disney+ talking about upcoming releases to stop potential churn and Now TV promoting its new content in their hero banner. Offering new content will be even more important in 2021 in addition to recycling existing content. Indeed, this last point will be important for many. How can they keep their existing catalogues fresh and relevant and keep users motivated to use their service? Personalisation and identifying user need affectively will be critical to success.


  1. Content expansion through podcasts and live events

With the desire for all OTT players to offer their consumers a varied and differentiated content suite, we expect many platforms to start to introduce new content streams into the mix, including podcasts, live event streaming and audible content. This will place new challenges for data science teams with personalisation as content types expand and correlation between content categories becomes more complex to provide coherent recommendations.


  1. New movie premiers released on VOD as well as Cinema

With the increase in VOD subscriptions seen in 2020 (insert stat) (caused in no small part to the global pandemic) there will be a fight to keep customers engaged and willing to subscribe, and in a lot of cases to more than one service. In such instances the lure of seeing the latest big content release first on your VOD service will be a key tactic in keeping consumers engaged. Expect to see much more advertising on seeing the latest releases on VOD rather than at the cinema or even at the same time. Disney+ demonstrated this trend with its latest releases of Mulan and Soul, and it could be that although MGM have pushed back the latest Bond release until April this year, it may decide to delay further or use VOD as a method of distribution. Could providers perhaps also use this as a paid-for extra? Time will tell.


  1. Increased service consolidation

As the flood of new OTT services on the market shows no signs of slowing, there is a clear battle ground forming for who will control the OTT landscape. In reality, there is only so many services that a consumer will be willing to sign-up too, therefore how VOD providers make their content accessible will be a key battleground this year. Fully expect greater emphasis placed on consolidated services and players becoming super aggregators like Sky, BT, Virgin, Amazon, Apple and of course the newest kid (cough) on the block Google.

Packaged bundles will be the new norm as consumers demand more from aggregators to have the ability to access their favourite services. Add in the big Hollywood studios entering the fray alongside BVOD/AVOD and SVOD, we will see aggregated services appearing rather than expecting users to pay for multiple standalone services. The litmus test could well be someone like Discovery+, as they may struggle to survive as a subscription service on their own, having already partnered with Sky to offer their service free of charge for 12 months to existing Sky Q customers.


  1. AI driving dynamic personalised UI

As the sophistication of technology providers and the desires for in-house teams to innovate, you can expect VOD providers will be looking for new ways to use AI to personalise the experience for users other than recommendations. Expect advances in how rails or ‘swim lanes’ are driven through machine learning to provide dynamic UI, driven by how users navigate within the platform and tailored to their preferences. Expect Video to be tailored to a user’s taste or even the type of clips shown bespoke to what excites them, whether that be actions sequences, romantic moments or thrilling suspense. Not only will this require technical development, but more importantly, a greater understanding of how each user is navigating each part of the platform, a user’s customer journey both on and off service and the ability to build and utilise complex user profiles.


  1. Increase use of Video within platforms

Using video within platforms is nothing new with trailers often used within content pages. However, Netflix is still be far and away the leader with the use of video within its main platform functionality. Video is a great way to lure a consumer in, quickly surface what the content is about and allows the user to discover content in an engaging way. Expect the use of short clip video trailers within platforms to increase this year with more OTTs copying the Netflix model.


  1. Increased desire to automate data enrichment

If there is one mantra that still runs true, it’s that any machine learning solution is only as good as the data that it relies upon. With this in mind, metadata and the associated challenges with managing metadata for large scale catalogues is still one that places strain for any data science function. Finding reliable automated solutions for metadata management is likely to be a key focus for many OTT services as they desire to rely less on human curated data management. Having said this, often generating quality personalisation results come from human interpretation of automated processes, so we expect there still to be a requirement for a blended approach, but with greater focus on a move to reliable data automation enrichment.


  1. Voice to be used more for content discovery

If you look at Search functionality on most OTT platforms it becomes clear it’s an area that does not receive the love and attention it perhaps should. Yet it’s the one area where users are most comfortable using for specific content needs or to use as a way of discovering new content. For this reason, we fully expect search to move higher up the agenda for many OTTs. With the rise is voice enabled devices such as Alexa, Siri and Google, and voice built into TVs and associated tech, fully expect OTTs to be on the lookout for new ways in which to categorise data that lends itself to voice search. Searching on TV devices is notoriously difficult on a remote device, so voice search will become the new search playground. The light will then quickly shine on how metadata catalogues must adapt to how users will search with voice. Expect greater emphasis on genre search or specific mood states i.e. “show me something to watch that’s creepy”.


  1. Google brings aggregated search to the forefront 

And finally, whilst were on the subject of search, fully expect there to be moves made to begin to aggregate search functionality across multiple services. Users have a wealth of choice at their fingertips however, a bug bear for many consumers is still not having the ability to bring all your content into one easily manageable search function. Google has already got the perfect search function, so anticipate moves to bring this major USP to market and provide an aggregated search tool. And this is likely to force their competitors to think how they provide robust, aggregated search model, especially the super aggregators that offer access to content across multiple services.


10. Use of AI to aid content production and purchased decisions

AI improves the ability to use big data more affectively and one area we expect to advance this year is AI helping to value content, allowing content producers and purchasers to identify where they need to focus their spend. AI can bring together a wealth of data in relation to evaluating a piece of content to drive engagement of views, revenue from purchases, all the way through to how attractive content is in generating advertising revenue. Expect an increased focus in using data science to help drive content catalogues.

As a TV AI specialist, we at The Filter are looking forward to another exciting year in 2021 and if you want to hear more about how we will be tackling these trends and more, then get in touch via our website at www.thefilter.com/contact-us


About The Filter:

The Filter offers personalisation products for key customer touchpoints based on proven data science. We put the right content in front of a customer at the right time.

The Filter uses data science methodologies to combine content and user data to predict what content a viewer might want to watch at any given moment. This drives up content engagement for each customer, where content engagement is a core KPI that correlates to churn, active users, loyalty and ultimately customer lifetime value.

We pride ourselves on working closely with clients both during seamless technical integration and through continual performance development, making sure that our client’s customers are always getting the optimal recommendations. User interfaces change, content and promotions change and business priorities change, and all of this means we need to constantly refine and develop personalisation through data science. Always A/B testing our solutions to show the value each development brings and continually improving our algorithms.