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3 Things We Learned at IBC in 2018

April 24, 2019
Jodi Susman

Another International Broadcasting Convention has come and gone, and with 1700 exhibitors and over 55 thousand attendees from around the globe, 2018 was an exciting time to be in Amsterdam. The OTT industry is bigger and stronger than ever, and we had a great time meeting with and hearing from so many companies working on cool projects and offering unique perspectives on the current state of mobile video. Of course, we also had a bit of fun as well.

Penthera on the town in Amsterdam!

Primarily, though, we were there to learn, and below we’re sharing some of the most interesting takeaways we gleaned from the convention.

1. It’s time for OTT companies to focus on increasing quality.

It’s abundantly clear that the OTT industry is maturing, and at IBC we could see how it is facing new growing pains. While the industry has been focused in past years on making OTT work, it’s now clearly time to make it work seamlessly. OTT subscriber households are predicted to far surpass TV subscribers by 2020, but there’s still a lot of work the industry must do. If OTT video is going to surpass traditional cable and satellite television, it’s will need to provide comparable quality. At IBC, we saw how companies are working to optimize their apps, players, transport through the CDN, and more.

There is an app being created for everything, but few are addressing the user experience. One thing we noticed missing from many conversations at IBC was how the industry is going to handle the problems caused by the last mile. If the industry truly wants to offer a perfect OTT experience, it’s critical that these problems — which aren’t going away any time soon — are taken very seriously.

2. Partnerships are key to delivering great experiences.

Delivering OTT video is complicated and challenging. Because of that, nobody can offer end-to-end solutions in house. No one can excel at every piece. It’s imperative that companies partner to deliver great solutions.

At IBC we learned that a lot of companies want to offer end-to-end solutions to their customers, but they don’t want to deliver sub-par solutions on the aspects of OTT where they don’t have expertise. They don’t want to give consumers anything less than the best of breed. Many companies, for this reason, are actively seeking partners to offer more sophisticated technologies to their consumers. Even if they already have certain features in place, many companies are open to replacing their lesser in-house tech with solutions that will greatly improve the user experience.

As Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Tech companies that support OTT can be at their absolute best when they work together, instead of competing on the parts they don’t do well.

3. Women are increasingly entering the OTT arena.

The role of women in the OTT sphere appears to be on the rise. IBC 2018 saw an increase in women speakers at the conference, up from 14% to 37%! Among the attendees, there were a notable amount of women early in their careers, a sign that women are increasingly entering the OTT arena. We were thrilled to see the new Women in Streaming Media group, which had its first meetup at IBC 2018, already has 132 members. Historically, women have been more involved in content and publishing side of the industry. There’s a lot of opportunity in the broadcasting and tech side, and young women are starting to get more involved.

Of course, increasing gender diversity isn’t only the responsibility of women. If companies want to be more inclusive, they need to actively seek out diverse applicants from all walks of life and proactively let them know that they are wanted.

We’re incredibly excited by everything we learned at IBC, and so glad we were there. If you missed it this year, don’t worry. One of the highlights of the convention was our CRO Dan Hurwitz chatting with Akamai about the importance of download for OTT, and you can watch the interview online.

See you next year, Amsterdam!


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