NAB 2019, Sprockit Innovation Pipeline panel –  Monetizing OTT: Beyond Subscriptions

SSIMWAVE got a chance to participate in the NAB 2019 panel, Monetizing OTT: Beyond Subscriptions for a discussion on how content providers can continue building the momentum that ad-supported streaming TV services like Roku, Tubi and Pluto TV are experiencing.

While the panel spoke of many things, what stood out was simple:

“You can’t give viewers bad video,” said Dr. Zhou Wang, co-founder and Chief Science Officer of SSIMWAVE.

Successfully delivering OTT is a balance of four things: content, business model (AVOD, SVOD or hybrid), quality of delivery and investment dollars, he said. This NAB SPROCKIT Innovation Pipeline panel moderated by Alan Wolk, co-founder and lead analyst for TV[R]EV touched on many of these points, with Dr. Wang speaking about his passion for viewer quality of experience.


“Optimizing distribution is key to running a successful OTT service. Distribution needs to achieve the best quality of experience while at the same time making this affordable,” said Dr. Wang. For many consumer OTT services, making things affordable for the viewer means ad-supported content. This makes it so important to ensure the advertisement quality is good, he said.

“The quality of ads jumps up and down and we see a lot of inconsistencies in the quality and that’s something you should be very careful about. In the future OTT we will see more targeted ads, so this is very important,” he said. “To share a personal experience with you, when I watch an OTT service, and suddenly some ads jump out and the quality of the ad clip is so bad, if I was the advertiser, I would cancel the ad because it makes what I’m trying to sell look really bad.”

“You need to measure what we call ‘true quality of experience of end users’. This is directly predicting what humans would say about the video, when they are watching it on their devices,” he said. “This includes, are they looking at content which is buffering? Is it switching from high quality to low quality? Do ads look considerably worse or better than the content? All these things should be taken into account in terms of evaluating how good you are doing in video delivery.”

“In the new deployments of hybrid mixed-network environments of 5G, 4G and 3G you have to be very careful because different users have different bandwidth and you have to deal with all these cases smoothly plus combine this with ad insertion. This is a very big technical challenge,” said Dr. Wang. “The bottom line is you have to have a way to always measure performance, and have a way to control this. This means measuring QoE in real time with ongoing feedback.” Stay tuned for more about how the ad-supported OTT world is unfolding.