NAB: OTT Pros Assess Transformed Landscape

Related: NAB Show 2015 Complete Coverage

The panelists at Monday's NAB panel session "Constant Cravings: Using OTT to Win the Next Generation of Viewers" offered a diverse mix of views and perspectives. They agreed on at least one thing, however: a general distate for the acronym OTT.

Mark DeBevoise, executive VP and GM of news and sports for CBS Interactive, said "it sounds pejorative." Plus, he added, "technically, it should be 'under the bottom,' not 'over the top.'" Agreed Darcy Antonelis, the longtime ex-Warner Bros. exec who joined Vubiquity as CEO in 2014, "We really should come up with a new phrase. It's up there with 'synergy' in terms of being one of those words..."

Semantics aside, the session was a substantive tour through a range of issues affecting (apologies) OTT players.

Alan Breznick, leader of the cable and video practice leader at Light Reading, and Brett Sappington, director of research for Parks Associates, began the 90-minute session with short presentations bursting with interesting data. One of Sappington's findings from studying between 80 and 90 direct-to-consumer video services (a tally that does not include TV Everywhere app content) is that households with children spend 90% more than those without kids on video content.

At the core of the conversation was the looming question of market saturation, given the recent stream of announcements about new OTT offerings. The consensus on stage was that while SVOD players (especially Netflix, Amazon and Hulu) have identified changes in consumer appetite, they are not in every sense direct competitors of linear networks.

"The bundle is valuable," DeBevoise said. "It still has meaning for people." OTT plays for many linear companies should be complementary, recognizing that "between 70 and 80 percent of all TV viewing happens live."

Kanaan Jemili, CEO of NeuLion (which powers a lot of OTT services, especially in the sports area), said it's a matter of scale. "If the numbers of viewers grow, then the number of advertisers will grow," he said.

True mass may never be realistic for services aimed at surfing fans or other market niches, however. "These new services just feel if they can own a certain niche that they will be able to survive the current deluge," Sappington said.