Cutting Through the OTT Clutter

The vast sea of free and subscription based over-the-top VOD and live TV services has created a paradox of choice for consumers either looking to cut the TV cord or to complement their existing pay TV service.

A startup that’s trying to help consumers find the OTT “metabundle” that suits their individual needs is CobbleCord, which launched service last fall and is helmed by founder and CEO Virginia Juliano.

CobbleCord, founded in the summer of 2015, ties a database of more than 100 OTT services to a patent-pending algorithm that generates a list of 18 personalized free and paid streaming options. It’s what the company calls a “Personalized Entertainment Reco,” based on information input into the platform by the users, including their top content categories (such as music, news or documentaries), which devices they prefer to view content on and their budget.

Users can also drill down to see which shows, networks and devices are associated with each option and to view ratings from CobbleCord, which evaluates services based on elements such as content quality, the size of a service’s library, free trial options, and streaming performance.

CobbleCord’s system, which is starting to incorporate new OTT service data points such as 4K, virtual reality content and the number of streams allowed per subscription, also surfaces a secondary list of other relevant OTT services a user might also want to consider.

The idea of a master OTT aggregation and curation service/database emerged as the online video market exploded with options that could easily overwhelm consumers, said Juliano, a former Showtime Networks executive who helped to launch the premium programmer’s direct-to-consumer product in July of 2015.

“There’s no one repository for this information,” she said, noting that her background in TV, databases and digital marketing fit with what became CobbleCord. Her most recent role at Showtime was vice president of multiplatform marketing.

For starters, CobbleCord has built a baseline database about each individual service, including types of content, supported devices and business model (subscription, free, etc.), and created an algorithm that can crunch that data and present the results in an intuitive, understandable way.

“We just keep on top of [this data] as best we can,” she said, noting that the data points for each service are constantly evolving. The plan is to double the amount of CobbleCord-supported services to about 200 in the next month or so, she said.

Early on, CobbleCord is growing organically and doing some social and search marketing. The site itself gets about 10,000 page views per month and about 7,000 people have registered. Currently, CobbleCord runs its platform on the web, as well as on apps for iOS and Android devices.

CobbleCord is initially employing a free, ad-based business model, which Juliano acknowledges is a tough go without scale.

She is also exploring a licensing model that offers a version of the database and algorithm to other OTT companies, which could use it for customer on-boarding or weave it into their user experience.

Longer-term, the aim is to work with OTT providers to create a marketplace, possibly under a revenue-split model, that would let consumers sign up for services via CobbleCord. Currently, CobbleCord links users to each online streaming service that comes out in the results.

CobbleCord isn’t completely alone in trying to fill this gap. Another firm trying to fill the breach is Mohu, which recently launched a service called Untangle.TV that steers results toward OTT services and its own over-the-air TV antennas.