Switch Media CEO Mark Johns shares how the company helps broadcasters to navigate through “the wild west of the OTT”. Read blog below:

BLOG: How does Switch Media help broadcasters navigate the OTT “Wild West”?

By Mark Johns, CEO, Switch Media

It seems incredible to think that YouTube launched just 14 years ago, an undoubted pioneer and game-changer. Since then the way that we consume content has shifted beyond belief. It was around this time that my colleagues Christopher Stenhouse and Luke Durham founded Switch Media after spotting an opportunity in the marketplace for user-generated content platforms. Christopher and Luke had built a high-quality video streaming platform with premium grade content and an ad-funded monetisation strategy. Shortly after, they pivoted the business to meet the requirements of broadcasters and content owners who, at that time, wanted to license the video platform to publish their own content online. So how did we get from there to here?

Fast forward 13 years and Switch Media has continued to expand year-on-year increasing from two to over 80 employees. The launch of our server-side ad insertion (SSAI) product AdEase four years ago was a pivotal development for us and one that pre-empted the market – as we’re now seeing. We’ve developed a deeper understanding of the challenges facing customers globally and we have a clearer view of the current variances from market to market. We can see that some of our target markets – on a geographic basis – are less evolved and have different economics in terms of OTT monetisation. ForSwitch Media, we’ve positioned AdEase as a revenue-enabling solution that helps shift the dial towards greater capabilities like addressable advertising, while dramatically improving the user experience and therefore overall ROI.

It’s clear that our strategy to develop lightweight and technology-agnostic solutions that enable synergies within workflows allows us to provide dynamic and nimble solutions.

With the growing importance of SSAI to the overall OTT experience, both from a viewer and ad revenue perspective, one of our key objectives was to create a robust platform; one that delivered a seamless advertising experience, and allowed customer-specific configurations to easily be added.  On-going AdEase feature development is based on clear customer demand.

By building on existing technologies and encouraging new innovations from our team, we continue to create new products and features our clients benefit from. This is reflected in our recently launched VOD2Live solution. Based on our AdEase technology, VOD2Live enables broadcasters and content owners to effortlessly launch custom dynamic live linear OTT channels in minutes.

Another example is our new video quality control capability, which was born out of a recent Hackathon. The ‘Watcha’ tool provides broadcasters and content owners with a solution that automatically highlights and reports issues during the encoding process. Another would be the launch last year of Freeview New Zealand’s on-demand platform. This saw significant developments and enhancements to the technical capabilities of our platform with new features and a modernisation of the infrastructure and development methodology.

Moving forward as a business, we’re concentrating on two key focus areas: our product development and global expansion. We recently expanded our global team with the launch of Switch Media Europe, following our acquisition of Swedish media systems integration consultancy Mediasmiths A.B. and also opened an office in South Africa.

As we move further down the track, the high level of innovation we deliver as a business comes not only through our depth of experience in the broadcast and OTT space, but also through our ability to fully understand the challenges our customers face and their continually evolving requirements.

Not ones to rest on our laurels, at NAB 2019 we launched MediaHQ, our world-class product suite, which houses a flexible modular set of components that easily integrate with existing systems. We learnt a long time ago that providing a complete end-to-end solution to a large customer is a very difficult process. By creating a modular product suite, we can draw on our vast experience across video workflows, providing specialist expertise in key areas.

Based on the rapid and dramatic shift in how we watch TV and consume content to date, my prediction is that eventually the majority of the transmitters will be turned off. Most TV will be OTT and content consumption will be tailored to the viewer. This may not be for a while, but it’s undoubtedly the future of television.  That’s not difficult to predict however, the question is: with thousands of services to choose from how will we access and pay for this content from a single UI?

We continue to actively think about what’s coming next and how we tackle challenges head on. Consumers tend to move at an incredibly fast rate, followed by technology and then business transformation. The broadcast world is moving to IP; there’s a lot of industry catch-up taking place and collaboration is vital. It’s our aim as a business to provide solutions to address these challenges. More than one commentator has described the OTT industry as a bit like the “Wild West”.

If it’s the Wild West, then we’re the bartenders who know how to get things done in this town!

If you’re off to IBC, meet with us there!

Or to find out more get in touch.