CEO Interview with Braxton Jarratt, CEO and co-founder of Clearleap

As one of the key exhibitors within the Connected Media|IP area at NAB Show 2016, Braxton Jarratt offers his vision for the present and future potential for the OTT/Pay TV sectors.

Q: What are the current technological challenges facing the TV Everywhere/PayTV sectors?

How are these challenges impacting your customers?

A: The rise of direct-to-consumer streaming services is certainly on the minds of any content owner in Pay TV today. As more consumers adopt streaming services, going OTT has gone from being an option to a mandate.

Our customers look to us for help with the technical logistics of managing a streaming/OTT service, from stream quality and content security to billing and subscription management. While content is certainly king, the technical aspects are an essential part of creating a great user experience. Without a flawless platform, new OTT services will face an uphill battle when acquiring and retaining subscribers.

Q: What is your company doing to address these issues, including details of any new products or services?

A: We’re always forging partnerships and updating our solution set to give our customers the tools they need to succeed in OTT. As live streaming has become more prolific, content owners need to ensure that their live programming can run seamlessly on every device. Last year, we launched our Live TV and Events solution to help them do exactly this. The solution is a comprehensive feature set that supports multiscreen viewing of live sports and events through high-quality live streams.

With the rise of OTT, it’s become increasingly important for content owners to establish a strong set of analytics that they can use to learn about their customer’s behaviours and understand the implications. Last autumn, we partnered with Zuora to create a joint solution that gives our customers the ability to garner actionable insight from the viewing, payment and churn habits of their customers. Having this type of data enables content providers to trigger marketing campaigns, reminders and recommendations that keep subscribers tuned in and engaged with the service. 

Q: The role of R&D – how do you remain ahead of the curve…and ahead of your competitors?

A: In a fast-paced industry that is so dependent on the preference of the end viewer, consumer research is critical. We’ve commissioned two surveys in the past year on sports and OTT streaming viewing habits. Both of these reports have given us unique insight into what viewers actually want (and don’t want) from their television and video providers, which are perspectives we use to inform our solution set and advise our customers.

Q: What geographic markets are currently strong for your business and why?

A: We follow the consumer demand for multiscreen video around the globe. Our customisable cloud platform is deployable worldwide – it’s able meet the needs of the varying markets that we service, and cater to the needs of content owners anywhere.

Q: With a growing number of acquisitions and mergers across the media and telecoms sectors, how will this impact the delivery of content and subscriber acquisition?

A: I expect that content delivery and subscriber acquisition will only improve with market maturity. Acquisitions and mergers push the industry to go through a form of natural selection, allowing the best end-to-end technology, business models, and content to rise to the top. As overall quality improves, more consumers will be enticed to subscribe to OTT services, while existing users will be less likely to hit ‘unsubscribe’.

We’re certainly a part of this change. Our recent acquisition by IBM shows that online video has moved beyond just entertainment. Increasingly, companies across industries are demanding video for communication, and looking for a scalable, secure way to manage those services.

Q: How will the TV Everywhere/Pay TV markets find a way to monetise their services?

A: At this stage, the best option for any content owner in Pay TV is to develop an OTT strategy. That said, many content owners looking to go direct-to-consumer think they need to focus on subscriptions alone in order to succeed, which is far from the truth. Succeeding in OTT isn’t just about launching a Netflix doppelganger – it’s creating a service that meets the needs of your unique consumer, showcases great content, and allows for scalability.

One way to scale revenue is by following a dual monetisation model. As Hulu and YouTube Red have shown, ads and subscriptions can complement one another in the same service. The AVOD model functions as a great way to acquire new customers, while the SVOD tier retains them with premium features.

Q: What new 'trends' do you predict for the next 12 to 24 months in this sector?

A: First, I believe we’ll see even more content owners launching their own OTT services. After the success of services like Netflix, HBO Now, and Hulu, every content company is looking to get a piece of the pie. YouTube, Univision, and the Smithsonian all went into SVOD in late 2015, and I’m sure we’ll see even more services go live in 2016 and beyond.

Simultaneously, I think we’ll see much more consolidation in the coming months. As the market matures, the trend of mergers and acquisitions we’re already seeing will likely grow, leading to a better quality of service for the end consumer.