Will synchronized streaming spell a new era for OTT in Japan?

05.02.20

by Editorial Staff

Synchronized news streaming is being tested in Japan. Does this move spell a revolution or more of an evolution for live TV in the country? Two of our experts have their say

05.02.20

by Editorial Staff

Synchronized news streaming is being tested in Japan. Does this move spell a revolution or more of an evolution for live TV in the country? Two of our experts have their say

Change is afoot in Japan. Until now, it's fair to say that uptake of over-the-top (OTT) has been faster and more absolute elsewhere in the region, like China and Australia, for example.

In the past, some have cited cost and copyright concerns as preventing a wider and absolute shift, others attribute slower uptake figures to the high percentage of older, more affluent consumers who are brand loyal and have a tendency to prefer watching free-to-air (FTA) channels.

Whatever the reason, it's fair to say that this is no longer the case. Growth is well and truly here.

As just one example, five Japanese networks teamed up with Japanese OTT provider, TVer, to trial streaming their evening news shows simultaneously for five weekdays in January this year.

In the midst of Japan's TV evolution, we speak to Craig Harvey, VP, APAC, and Michael D’Oliveiro, Commercial Director, APAC OTT, for their analysis on the streaming trial as well as the wider opportunity for OTT in the country.

What does the introduction of synchronized streaming mean for TV viewers in Japan?

Craig: The market is ripe for opportunity, with platforms like DAZN having successfully operated in the region since 2016, while the recent NBA deal with Rakuten to live stream all games in Japan shows that live streaming is continuing its ascent.

Michael: Not just speaking about Japan, but more generally, I feel that broadcasters with a TV Anywhere offering will now expect their news and sports fans to crave the live OTT experience to be just like actual TV in every respect. Synchronized streaming provides this experience on-the-go and casts any doubt that the user is watching an inferior service. The lines between OTT and TV are becoming blurred when seen from the perspective of younger viewers.

What are the greatest opportunities when it comes to OTT in Japan?

Craig: Japan has an incredible infrastructure, lending itself very well to content delivery via IP networks. When it came to our work with the FIFA World Cup in 2018, for example, Japan was one of, if not the, highest consumers of content (in gigabytes) of all our clients in the region. Thus, the surge in live streaming demand can be easily supported, regardless of how ambitious the broadcasters are. In a sense, they can introduce innovation without waiting for the infrastructure to catch up. In developing countries, this isn’t the case and can be very frustrating.

Michael: More generally, personalization of the experience is an opportunity since OTT can do that far better than TV can alone. The blending of user data (within the bounds of PII and PDP) with historical viewing can provide operators with targeted experiences and this not only makes advertising opportunities far more biddable (in terms of higher CPMs), but just a better experience for the end-user. This also helps with the increase of engagement minutes/hours per month, a key metric that almost all OTT operators judge their own success by.

Importantly, frame accurate synchronized streaming could go one step further and even help some operators monetize even more. It would be embarrassing to experience severe lag when you live stream together with TV, but if legal online betting in certain sports – like horse racing – is to flourish, the experience must be synchronized to optimize monetization from waging revenue. From my experience working with Racing Victoria, this is critical in Australia, for example. I expect the current synchronization trials to move into this category pretty soon.

What must OTT providers start doing today to make the most of this opportunity?

Craig: OTT is still relatively new compared to TV, and we are learning more and more every day. There is a fear starting to grip, with organizations realizing they need OTT so they risk jumping into it without a solid strategy. We support organizations with strategic advice and product design backed by years of experience. Core principles include a data strategy to acquire a deeper understanding of the user and the creation of a seamless user-experience to maximize engagement.

Michael: Absolutely. Operators also need to master a good user sign-on experience and handle user registration data (particularly social media logins that share first-party data) with privacy as being sacrosanct. But thereafter, the ability to segment audiences and create tailored experiences for those segments will be highly sought after by digital marketers for both acquisition and retention, particularly in CRM strategies.

Are there any risks OTT providers should be aware of?

Michael: Generally, not knowing the market driving forces well enough. This might create a false understanding of an operator’s needs, resulting in some solution components not being fit for their requirements.

Craig: If they can replicate this approach with multi-genre content from differing broadcasters, then a key challenge will be curated and non-curated content discovery and that is where AXIS, our targeted suite of multi-platform reference apps, can help.

What does this news mean for Deltatre more generally?

Michael: At a general level, our current suite of products like AXIS are able to aid operators here by creating more personalized experiences, plus leveraging our best-in-class reference UIs for content discovery. With our own advanced OTT player, DIVA, we continue to offer an ability to allow more interaction and viewing control by viewers around key highlights that may interest them. All this ultimately helps with increasing the engagement KPI.

What do you think? If you have any comments or questions for the team, get in touch on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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