OTT in Q1 2016

It’s hard to believe that we are already one quarter into the year 2016. There have been so many developments in the OTT world so far that it’s best just to break it down by month.


The year began with a bang: Netflix announced at CES that it would be arriving in 130 additional countries.

“Today’s launch is like having a baby,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. “It’s a big deal, but the real work is the next 20 years.”

At the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht unveiled that the cable network was developing a streaming app – a stunning reversal considering his remarks in July 2015. At that time, Albrecht stated he had yet to observe any “benefits” to such an approach.


At the beginning of February, NBCUniversal revealed ‘hayu,’ a SVOD service designed for reality shows, and meant for viewers in Ireland, the UK and Australia.

“NBCUniversal’s expertise as the foremost producer of reality programming - along with the obvious popularity of the genre - was the trigger for launching hayu,” said Kevin MacLellan, Chairman, NBCUniversal International, in a press release. “We know that reality content is a primary driver of social interaction and that fans of reality TV significantly over-index in online viewing. We set out to build a service that elegantly combines the best high-end reality shows with the most popular social media and digital news platforms. Uniquely, in hayu, fans can find it all in one place."

Later in the month, Mexican media firm Televisa announced streaming platform ‘Blim,’ geared toward Latin American audiences in an effort to compete with Netflix.

"Televisa is the biggest producer and distributor of Spanish-language content in the world," said Blim chief Carlos Sandoval, "and this is one more piece of the puzzle to reach viewers."


March started off with the big news that AT&T will be releasing an OTT TV service later in the year, marketed as a DirecTV product. The offering will feature three different tiers.

"We intend to offer customers a quality pay-TV experience, including top channels, sports and more, with increased value and flexibility of pure online streaming and no need for home installation,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group.

Specific details, including channels and programmers, are still unknown at this time.

Playstation Vue, which launched in limited regions last summer, has expanded across the U.S. and experienced a price cut: it now starts at $30/month.

Lionsgate partnered up with Comic-Con International to develop the ‘Comic-Con’ OTT platform, and has signaled that May 7 will be its official debut.

The service will feature original content, as well as entertainment commentary.

“For nearly half a century, Comic-Con has served as the definitive common ground where the fans of genre entertainment come together to express their passion for comics and pop culture,” said Seth Laderman, EVP and general manager for Comic-Con HQ. “The new platform will provide a year-round destination to enjoy all facets of the community and access the vast diversity of content the world has come to expect from the largest and longest-running pop cultural celebration of the year.”

Lionsgate is also working with comedian Kevin Hart on a ‘Laugh Out Loud’ VOD service for exclusive content related to the man himself. It’s expected to hit screens this autumn.

Two other businesses also showed off new streaming models.

Redbox is once again entering the fray with ‘Redbox Digital.’ The Illinois-based movie rental company had made an attempt previously with “Redbox Instant,’ but that was shut down in October 2014.

Now it seems, they’ve re-thought the concept.

“Redbox continually looks for ways to enhance our customer experience,” a Redbox spokesperson told Variey. “For tens of millions of consumers, Redbox is their source for new release rentals without a subscription. As such, we regularly conduct tests of potential new offerings, that may or may not be brought to market, as part of our ongoing commitment to provide additional value.”

Finally, content network Fullscreen has come up with its own SVOD service, ‘fullscreen,’ meant to rival Netflix and YouTube at $5/month.

"We're very specifically going after the teen and young audience that grew up in the social and mobile-first environment," said Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos.

Fullscreen will be available for consumers on April 26.

It’s been busy so far for OTT in 2016, what will happen next?

Author: Brian Cameron

Image via Shutterstock.


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