Over the Top Television Prospects in Pakistan

Verismo-vunowpopularwebsites-2009The terminology of OTT or Over the top television is relatively new in South Asia but the concept and technology behind OTT is not new because to a certain extent this platform is being offered as a product in South Asia for few years now.

What is OTT?

By definition OTT is the delivery of video and audio via the internet, directly to user(s) connected devices.

It allows access to services anywhere, anytime and on any device. Considering this definition even our desktop PC’s or for a matter of fact even our cell phones now a days can be deemed as OTT terminals because portals like youtube provide us with an unlimited amount of video and audio feed with the help of a data connection.

But there is a difference, though Youtube generates loads of content but it does not present that content in an orderly fashion, or say like TV channels do. On the other hand OTT presents all the content just like your channels on cable TV, examples: Geo News, Ajj TV etc.

In other words, an OTT terminals or devices work like a content management platform for any user. It provides its users to watch TV channels online. In addition users can record, search and interact with content. In simpler words OTT technology combines Television with the benefits that Internet offers.

OTT Hardware and Software

Currently multiple companies are competing with each other to develop top of the line OTT hardware and software. The market leaders who are currently fiercely trying to gain share in this lucrative market are LG and Samsung.

These two companies are investing heavily in developing Televisions which are OTT enabled along with developing terminals (Set Top Box) which can be attached with a standard HD TV to OTT enable it.

LG electronics has already penetrated the Middle East market by partnering with Etisalat and launching E-Life the first of its kind OTT service in the middle east region. E-Life commenced its operations in July-2011 by giving demo equipment and accounts to customers. E-Life was successful in distributing free content over its network to customers and billing of customers is supposed to start from December-2011.

OTT In Pakistan

As I mentioned earlier that to a certain extent OTT services are already available in Pakistan. Some fine examples of it are PTCL’s IPTV, Naya Tel’s Fiber Optic TV and HD Box Television but these services do not provide the array of VAS that a true OTT is supposed to offer.

Samsung is proactively looking to penetrate the Pakistani market and it is rumored that it is in discussion to partner with Pakistan’s largest Broadband service provider because OTT needs a data connection to run. In addition to this Samsung is also aggressively promoting it “Samsung Smart TV” product line in Pakistan because it sees a lucrative market in the country which has a huge potential of growing.

Things we can expect on a Samsung Smart TV or in a Samsung OTT Set top box are:

  • Internet browsing capability
  • Direct Access to Youtube, Facebook, Twitter
  • Access to Samsung Application store
  • Capability to download OTT platform enabled Softwares and games which would run on TV’s
  • Capability to search for content

In future we can also expect that the OTT enabled devices would include a hard-disk to record programs for viewing. OTT adds a whole new dimension as to how we interact with media today, in fact this piece of technology will completely change the way we watch television in years to follow. OTT might also replace the demand of DTH in the region.