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Viaplay: “OTT has become as good as a traditional broadcast experience”

Kaj af Kleen, CTO of Vialay

Kaj af Kleen, CTO of Viaplay

Kaj af Kleen, CTO of Swedish online video service Viaplay, on the disruption currently being experienced by the broadcast industry, the prospects for TV Everywhere, and what he believes are consumers’ biggest frustrations with current multiscreen services.

Kaj will be speaking at the CDN World Summit event taking place in London on 1-3 October. For more information and to register, please visit cdnworldsummit.com.

The internet has clearly disrupted the broadcast industry massively over the past few years. Why do you think that is?

I believe it’s not disruption, its evolution and expansion of the industry.

There are two strong drivers of the recent Internet video disruption. The network infrastructure has enabled high quality video to be delivered to end-users in a good quality, and along with adaptive bitrate technology the quality of OTT has now become as good as a traditional broadcast experience.

The barriers for content owners to create good services are rather low, as services can be deployed without the need for complex set-top box deployments and heavy network investments.

The possibility of deploying services without taking heavy investments has enabled a wide selection of companies from different sectors to deploy VOD services.

Are the biggest changes now behind us?

I do not think that anyone has really been successful with deploying a full supplement service to traditional set-top box services – this is why we are still at a phase of cord-shaving rather than cord-cutting.

I’m convinced that we are in the middle of a period of rapid change. I think enhancements of user experience and picture quality are going to be two important factors for further growth, alongside the transition of linear viewing to OTT platforms.

At Viaplay we have seen rapid growth of usage on mobile and tablet devices, and I believe we can expect a lot of changes in user experience around these devices in the near future. I do not see that the TV and handheld devices are yet interconnected to the fullest extent.

HEVC and 4K are hot topics and once such picture quality enhancements are in place full linear services can be experienced with good quality of service which should boost cord-cutting.

TV Everywhere seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment. Is the cherished goal finally in sight of all content on all devices, anywhere and anytime?

We have deployed Viaplay on a broad selection of hardware devices and we also offer the possibility for users to switch from one platform to the other under one subscription.

However, it is rather complicated to establish and maintain services on a wide selection of devices as they offer different support for video, DRM and quality of services tools.

Some platforms also require individual user experience development and these customisations makes it more complicated for service providers to make multiscreen viewing and experience seamless and content discovery simple.

There have been early deployments of secure video playback in HTML5 browsers and these types of global standard are required in order for a full TV everywhere experiences to take place.

What do you think are consumers’ biggest frustrations with current multiscreen services?

The variation of user experience between devices are too great, which confuses end-users and holds back a true multiscreen experience. It is simply too hard for consumers to find interesting content in a simple way and to switch between platforms seamlessly.

This gap is mainly driven by the complexity of developing services on multiple devices and hence softwares. Again, there is a clear need for a software platform standard that can simplify for service providers to fill this gap.

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