BAMTech CTO: OTT Providers 'Have to Produce Every Day'

Pure-play over-the-top video services and authenticated TVE Everywhere offerings share a lot technologies, but they are, at their core, very different animals, especially related to the links between performance and churn mitigation, according to Joe Inzerillo, executive VP and chief technology officer of BAM Tech, the Disney-backed technology services and video streaming spin-off of MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM).

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Inzerillo, speaking Wednesday at the Streaming Media East conference in New York, said OTT services must be more wary about exposure to churn if the service runs into technical issues.

If a TVE app runs into problems, it’s possible that the customer would cancel the pay TV service it’s attached to, “but it’s probably not super likely,” he said.

By comparison, an OTT service is the product that people are buying. “If you have problems, if you have issues…then it leads to churn immediately,” Inzerillo said. “Churn is one of the most important things…Churn mitigation is really important.”

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He said that difference also allows TVE services to take more risks with things like advertising or other features that could create a defect in the stream.

“OTT products  tend to be cared for more than TVE products,” he said. “That's not to say there aren’t great TVE products out there...but, I think, in general, [with] OTT you have to produce every day. The friction of un-subscription is very low.”

As for next-gen video quality platforms, Inzerillo believes High Dynamic Range (HDR), with its deeper blacks and color depths, is more important than 4K at this juncture, and that the two must be thought of separately.

“4K is not all that impactful from the customer standpoint to me, relative to HDR,” he said, noting that, with 4K, consumers need a large display, and don’t get much benefit from it when watching on a tablet or a smartphone.

On those smaller screens, “4K doesn’t buy you anything. HDR does immediately…In our minds, better pixels wins.”

As for platforms, about BAMTech is seeing about 25% to 30% of viewing occurring on the web, though TV-connected devices represents the fastest growing segment. “It makes sense; it’s a high quality experience,” Inzerillo said.

Inzerillo was also asked if he is concerned about data caps and other usage-based broadband policies that service providers are employing. He’s not a fan of them.

"Certainly data caps are not good from a content provider standpoint,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for the industry. There are real hurdles out there.”

But those policies have influenced the product, leading to settings, such as resolution and frame rates, that empower the consumer to manage the bandwidth themselves.

Though BAMTech, which counts, PlayStation Vue and HBO Now among its clients, is known as a leader in linear, live OTT streaming, VOD is also a key part of the business.

“You have to get very good at both,” Inzerillo said, but acknowledged that “our DNA has been wired for live.”