Cloud-based OTT services have recently undergone a significant evolution, as demand for Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming adapts to new consumer needs. As demand for high-quality, accessible content increases, providers are now racing to offer better resolution, immersive audio, and diverse content, challenging broadcasters to develop a scalable and efficient streaming infrastructure. This article examines the growing role of cloud-based OTT deployment as a solution to these challenges.

The challenges of launching a cloud-based OTT service 

Today’s broadcasters are gradually turning to creating a cloud-based streaming infrastructure. This shift is aimed at maintaining uninterrupted service and improving the viewing experience for their audiences. The shift to the cloud is largely driven by the limitations of traditional architectures, which are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing demands of today’s consumers.

In addition, the move toward application-centric TV introduces several new challenges for broadcasters, pay-TV operators, and content providers. One of the main issues is the large-scale deployment and management of applications, involving millions of existing set-top boxes and many other devices currently used by consumers.

Prolonging the lifespan of OTT devices

Regardless of the level of sophistication, all OTT devices are facing obsolescence. This is often due to declining software support or insufficient space for new applications. When manufacturers stop updating these devices, they lack the necessary software enhancements critical to maintaining both stability and security. Cloud technology, however, offers a solution to this dilemma. Using the cloud, these devices can be rejuvenated, effectively extending their life and usability.

The shortcomings of traditional hardware-based deployment

The limitations of traditional hardware-based deployment in OTT services are substantial, impacting the efficiency and agility of broadcasters in several ways.

Firstly, establishing traditional infrastructure is not just a complex task but also a time-consuming one. The process of planning, acquiring, setting up, and deploying these systems can stretch over months or even years. This prolonged timeline is a significant drawback in an industry where the ability to rapidly launch new services and respond to market trends is crucial for staying competitive.

Furthermore, the financial implications of traditional hardware-based setups are profound. The initial outlay for purchasing and integrating this type of infrastructure is substantial, often running into millions of dollars. Moreover, there are ongoing expenses related to maintaining these systems, especially when ensuring high availability for uninterrupted service. These costs are not one-time, but recurring as the need for maintenance and modernisation continues.

Additionally, one of the most pressing challenges in the OTT space is accurately predicting viewer demand and scaling infrastructure accordingly. Traditional systems often struggle with this, leading to two significant problems. On one hand, inadequate capacity during peak times can cause service disruptions and poor user experiences. On the other, over-provisioning – preparing for peak demand that may not materialize – leads to financial inefficiency because resources are tied up in unused assets.

The OTT industry is characterized by rapid technological advancements, particularly in video standards and protocols. Keeping pace with these developments is a formidable task for hardware-based infrastructures. They require frequent updates and upgrades to support new formats and standards like 4K, HDR, and emerging compression techniques. Each upgrade cycle incurs additional costs and downtime, further hindering the ability to offer cutting-edge services.

Cloud deployment: a game-changer for OTT services

The challenges mentioned above are almost completely gone with OTT app deployment in the cloud. Operators can install OTT apps in the cloud and deliver them to any device (mostly) regardless of its capabilities by using cloud-based OTT app virtualization. The OTT app always runs smoothly as it’s virtualized in the cloud, always up-to-date, and optimized by the provider.

In terms of end-to-end security, the DRM processes are still happening on the device, but the application is virtualized, providing a whole host of advantages for both user experience and operator scalability.

Here are a few reasons why service providers want to switch:

Accelerated updates and responsiveness

One of the most notable advantages of cloud deployment is the significant enhancement in speed and responsiveness. Traditional OTT operators, known for their lengthy development cycles, face challenges in implementing apps across various set-top boxes. Cloud deployment, however, simplifies this process. By handling the bulk of the processing in the cloud, operators can rapidly add and update applications, dramatically reducing the time to market compared to conventional set-top software development cycles. Moreover, the absence of hardware limitations means apps can be installed without worrying about device storage capacities, allowing for an unlimited number of apps on end devices.

Performance

Cloud-deployed apps benefit from the substantial processing power available in the cloud, resulting in blazing-fast performance. This high-powered environment ensures smooth and efficient operation of applications, providing a superior user experience.

Better monitoring and analytics

Cloud deployment allows for a more controlled and monitored user experience without direct access to the set-top box. This means better visibility into factors like latency and startup time, leading to an overall enhancement in user experience. By utilizing cloud-generated data and statistics, broadcasters can benchmark performance and ensure that OTT video delivery meets the highest industry standards.

Operators gain the flexibility to control access to applications and can switch them on or off based on specific licensing agreements or business needs. This level of control is pivotal in managing a diverse range of content and applications across various platforms.

Business-centric approach

Perhaps one of the most compelling benefits of cloud-based OTT is the shift in focus it allows for businesses. By adopting cloud deployment, companies can concentrate on delivering high-quality content to their audience rather than being bogged down by the complexities of hardware maintenance, technical issues, or the challenges of scaling infrastructure.

What are the main benefits of cloud-based OTT services?

Cloud-based OTT platforms offer several benefits that solve many of the challenges facing traditional broadcasting methods. These platforms are designed to take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, resulting in a more flexible, scalable, and cost-effective approach to content delivery. Explore the best benefits.

Enhanced user experience

Cloud-native OTT platforms are at the forefront of providing great user experience. Using advanced cloud technologies, these platforms ensure smooth, high-quality streaming with minimal buffering. Using reliable content delivery networks (CDNs) reduces latency and improves video quality, making it more enjoyable and engaging for the viewer.

Innovative feature integration

Cloud-native platforms enable seamless integration of cutting-edge features such as AI-powered recommendations, interactive content and personalized viewing experiences. These innovations not only increase user engagement, but also open up new opportunities for content creators to experiment with interactive and engaging content formats.

Robust security measures

Security is a critical aspect and cloud-native OTT platforms are well-equipped to handle it. These platforms use advanced encryption, stringent access controls and continuous security updates to protect against piracy and cyber threats, ensuring a safe and secure environment for both content providers and viewers.

Global reach and localization

Cloud-native OTT platforms can be scaled effortlessly to reach audiences around the world. They offer the unique ability to localize content and services to different regions, breaking down geographical barriers and enabling providers to enter new markets with relative ease.

The last words

In summary, the shift towards cloud-based OTT services offers broadcasters unparalleled advantages in terms of scalability, flexibility, and viewer experience.  

Deploying via the cloud has many advantages, the main benefit being access to flexible, cost-effective, and high-quality infrastructure. Many leading media organizations are rapidly moving from traditional infrastructure to cloud infrastructure to leverage the benefits it offers in their OTT services. 

If you have questions about implementing an OTT platform, contact us using the form below. Our specialists will be happy to discuss your project and help you identify the services needed to transform into a future-proof, cloud-native OTT content provider.

About the author

Oliwia Poswiat

Marketing Specialist