Over The Top with Ostmodern

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As the TV of Tomorrow Show in New York draws closer, Interactive TV Today’s ‘iTV Doctor’ Rick Howe talks to Jody Allen and Tom Williams about the value of a user-centred approach to OTT product design.

With extensive VOD expertise of the UK’s competitive broadcast, Pay TV and sports content sectors, Ostmodern is expanding their client base outside of the UK and now count News Corp and Philo as their biggest US clients.

The interview explores themes including the magic of scheduling and timeliness, crafting individual experiences across devices, the importance of experience paradigms, sports content products with video at its heart, how to democriatise content in aggregated environments and designing increasingly sophisticated user profiles.

Read the full interview or for a taster, read the summary below.

One of the key issues with on-demand services is the lack of serendipity and anticipation that broadcast scheduling has done so well. Ostmodern’s recent work for Channel 4’s new All 4 online service is an example of how to restore the 'magic of television'. Says Jody, “At the heart of the new All 4 concept is time. We often feel that in the rush to achieve on-demand perfection, VOD products have lost sight of the magic of scheduling and timeliness in TV. What have I missed? What is on Channel 4 now? What can I look forward to next week? This concept is central to the service and will be a consistent narrative throughout, providing context within currently airing shows, whilst surfacing the unique Channel 4 VOD archive as "Box-Sets."

Howe then asks how OTT services can be kept engaging across multiple devices and using ITV Player as an example, Tom emphasises the importance of creating products that are ‘tuned’ to the strength of each device. “Knowing who will use which devices to watch what content can inform your product and content strategy, and rather than making the identical product on each device, you create something that is "tuned" to give you a better ROI on a particular platform”.

This brings the discussion to the importance of experience paradigms. When Ostmodern works with broadcasters with large digital estates on incremental platform and service development, Tom says that ‘it's extremely important to have some key experience paradigms to consider; these allow you to create a sense of a single product whilst also evolving the feature set and UI to take advantage of developments, for example with native OS and developments in user behavior’.

The importance of maintaining a single product across devices and evolving and iterating that product to maximize engagement extends to sports brands as well, as Ostmodern’s relationship with Arsenal, News Corp and BT Sports illustrates. As both domestic and international sports fans get used to on-demand access to streamed video, products need provide increasingly sophisticated sports content experiences across devices.

The interview wraps up with a look at how Ostmodern have helped content aggregators, such as YouView, develop a product strategy that balances the needs for content owners to maintain their own brand and voice with the platforms need to ensuring overall coherence and consistency from a user experience perspective.

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