Fraying the Cord – the future of OTT

Chances are, anyone looking at their latest cable bill is getting more interested in obtaining the content they want directly, that is, not through the cable box, and even more interested in not paying for the content they don’t want.

That said, the cord cutting panel caught our eye.  We were interested  to see if some premium content providers will take the next steps to create direct channels to consumers, and to add value to the experience of viewing.

The content owners on this panel (WWE and Riot Sports) represent two different perspectives on the OTT (Over-The-Top) conundrum. WWE, represented by Michelle Wilson, Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, has a binary view on the market. On the one hand, cable TV deals are a traditional must-have for reaching their audiences, but on the other, their digital video content is increasing 40-50% annually, and is their fastest-growing revenue channel. WWE were early starters in offering digital content, and had to battle against many industry naysayers when they launched four years ago. However, they have since figured out how to turn digital into a classic marketing funnel. Hundreds of hours of short-form video are developed and delivered via YouTube, Snapchat, etc. and, while generating some revenue from advertising, act primarily as a driver to WWE’s $9.99 subscription offering.

While WWE see digital as a growth strategy, for Riot Games (owner of League of Legends), digital is the heart of their product offering. As a business that drives up to 43m online views and targets an exclusively younger audience, Riot is all about reaching consumers where they are, and online video has always worked for them. Interestingly, this is not a rigid approach, with TV deals being worked out in other countries where linear TV is still a viable channel for their demographic. But it’s not just the channel choice of the demographics that determines Riot’s online focus, they also need to continue to facilitate added-value digital features such as live data visualization and a parallel online community blended into the viewing experience.