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Over The Top Viewership On The Rise

Dec 17, 13 Over The Top Viewership On The Rise

The number of people turning to over-the-top (OTT) devices is on the rise and is frankly over the top! The interesting thing is many OTT users don’t even know that they are going over the top. That is just part of the irony.

The other irony in OTT, which basically is for devices that replace the traditional set top box, is that in this day and age of flat panel TVs the set top box isn’t really on top of the set anymore. More often the box is under the set. So this means that over-the-top devices are replacing under-the-set boxes. Yes, that’s confusing.

But consider too that IHS iSuppli, a technology research firm, considers OTT to be “equipment includes set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, Internet-enabled TVs, game players, digital media adapters like Apple TV or Roku, media tablets, PCs and smartphones.”

Now that just adds to the confusion, as this explanation of devices that go over the top actually include those set top boxes – which the report suggests that OTT is replacing.

OTT includes Internet-supplied services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other video content providers that bypass the traditional cable box and which are not available over the airs.

The bigger point is according to IHS iSuppli shipment of OTT devices will reach 1.7 billion this year, so the market is seeing significant growth – and could see more next year. IHS iSuppli predicts OTT will grown another 20 percent next year.

“Content owners, operators and consumers all are driving the proliferation of the OTT model,” said Jordan Selburn, Senior principal analyst, consumer platforms. “Content owners want to expand the market for the films, music and videos they own. Meanwhile, operators wish to use OTT in order to add value to their services and keep subscribers from cancelling TV subscriptions in favor of purely broadband connections—preventing what the industry calls ‘cutting the cord.’ Consumers, for their part, desire access to a wide variety of media at the time and place of their own choosing.”

Now, not everyone who has an OTT device is using it for that, however. For one thing, many Blu-rays offer Netflix capability, so it is counted as a device even if the service isn’t used that way. Factor in that the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and, of course, the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 could be considered OTT devices.

In these cases, the bigger numbers that we’ll want to watch will be the number of OTT subscribers. But here too it gets tricky.

Technically this reporter is an OTT subscriber as I pay for Amazon Prime, which offers streaming video through my plasma TV. The truth is that in 2013 I used the service probably less than a handful of times. I opt for Amazon Prime for the free shipping from Amazon.com, so the TV content is a bonus – albeit one I don’t frequent all that often.

Still, with Amazon joining Netflix with original content I can see myself looking to become an OTT subscriber. But it will be something that will supplement my cable subscription. While many people are looking to OTT to cut the cord, many more will likely be like me and subscribe to Netflix for a month to watch House of Lies in March and then cancel.

However, this is all something that suggests that the traditional delivery methods for TV content are continuing to evolve. Now if only one of these services could figure 4K Ultra-HD. That would be thinking outside the box as much as over the top.  

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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