2018 NAB Show Event Channel

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3 Screen Solutions Reaches Out to Partners for End to End OTT Solutions

This year’s IBC in Amsterdam witnessed a spate of discussions and partnership announcements between providers of various components across the OTT ecosystem in a bid to assemble complete end-to-end packages. While a few players can offer all components, most of the rest cover just part of the spectrum, splitting loosely between the front end and back end. The front end embraces the UI (User Interface), playout, content curation and navigation, while the back end covers billing, subscriber management, monetization, content management, aggregation, encoding and encryption. Analytics spans both since it requires data from, and generates actions across, both domains, which is one reason why there is so much activity joining the two together.

Germany’s 3 Screen Solutions (3SS) as a provider of just the front end OTT platform has exemplified this trend, having been in discussions with back end counterparts like VimondXstreamKalturaOoyala and Brightcove to create complete pre-integrated packages. Some of these back end providers also offer front ends, but 3SS contends that these are not as good as its own as a specialist on that front. “We see many providers with great backends, but they lack the technical skills to build and maintain front end solutions on all the target platforms,” said 3SS Managing Director Kai-Christian Borchers. “All these platforms require testing facilities and have different certification processes.”

There was also a competitive reason for choosing different suppliers for the front and back ends, Borchers argued. “While Kaltura for example does have a front end with MediaGo, if they sell their solution to more than one operator in a given country, normally those operators won’t want the same user interface as their competitors. They are looking for an additional template solution.”

Around IBC 3SS unveiled a formal partnership with Vimond to offer a combined OTT package. “We’re in close talks with many other back end players to pre-integrate their solutions,” Borchers confirmed.

OTT operators seek differentiation through the front end, 3 Screen’s Managing Director Kai-Christian Borchers.

OTT operators seek differentiation through the front end, 3 Screen’s Managing Director Kai-Christian Borchers.

At IBC 3SS also announced a new package called 3READY to complement its existing 3PRIME front end. The difference is that while 3PRIME is a package of services incorporating the full gamut of customizable design and system integration, 3READY is as the name suggests ready-to-go, just requiring tweaking to the customer’s UI but without the ability to adapt key service features. 

“3READY is a ready to go multiscreen front end solution for broadcasters and second or third tier operators to deploy their complete services with EPG, linear TV, catch-up, VoD and sVoD on mobile devices, PCs and later games consoles,” said Borchers.

As Borchers noted, big tier 1 operators will not be interested in a package like the entry-level 3READY. “An operator such as Swisscom is capable of specifying bespoke software development from the front end. We have realized that not many operators are like that and are more likely to take a systems integrator role, where they buy a standard solution and just plug it together. In fact many are not even capable of doing that and totally rely on someone defining and building that solution, like a turnkey.”

3READY is pitched at that last category. It does though include some advanced features, according to Borchers, like Linear On Demand (LoD). “This is a concept we have tested with some of our end customers, creating personalized linear channels out of VoD content, not just catch-up but also web channels like YouTube.”

Data analytics is also built in, as well as A/B testing, which allows operators to try out new features and assess which are popular, as well as determine whether existing ones are actually used or not. Operators can enable or disable specific features, as well as test-market different content collections, page layouts and configurations to assess their appeal with specific audiences and focus groups. 

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