Market choice: OTT owners’ common mistakes

Market choice: OTT owners’ common mistakes

So, you are planning to launch an OTT business. You selected content, explored all possible strategies, hired a development team, but... What next?

Many beginners in the OTT business make a number of mistakes and, thus, lose to competitors in the market.

In this article, we will have a look at the most common mistakes of OTT owners and ways to prevent them.

Wrong marketing&business strategy

An unsuccessful marketing strategy can result in a loss of budget and a drop in sales. This is often encountered by both the owners of start-up companies and the heads of large organizations. 

A common mistake marketers make is to ignore strategy development, analysis and evaluation of the effectiveness of promotion channels, or develop a campaign strategy without first setting goals. Entrepreneurs often pay for advertising without a sound plan and strategy. They "inflate" or "drain" the budget without investing in brand development and quality advertising content.

Case: Redbox Instant&XES



Better than you! Niche marketing

A very important question is: who needs a niche? A very important answer is: you!

On the one hand, if you are new to the OTT business, it may seem to you that competitors have taken absolutely everything and your product has no place here. On the other hand, each platform is in “its own world”, practically not interrupting with the competitive one. After all, in fact, everything depends on the quality of the content, and not on the number of players in a particular niche.

What if there is already a clear leader in your chosen niche, or even more than one? It's very simple: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Or create a unique idea, which has no analogues in the world of OTT. Or choose another niche. Or…  Create your own one and lead it!

Incorrect definition of the target audience

It is important to understand and remember that a "niche" is not only content, but also the audience you want to attract to your platform.

Your audience is not just a commercial sample by age, social activity, location and purchasing activity. The audience of your OTT platform is the influencer which can help you to attract more and more subscribers via social media, word to mouth etc.

First, of course this can help when setting up targeted advertising for your service. However, it will be better if you select an individual solution for your product. For example, an interview. 

An interview is a powerful tool. With the help of interviews, you will be able to more accurately determine the segment of potential subscribers and in the future to understand what content is most desirable for your existing audience to view.

Second, hard segmentation works only when you already have a certain number of subscribers and you want exact numbers: who, when, how much and for how much smb. bought your subscription.

Case: Ditto-TV

In February 2012, then MD and CEO of ZEE Punit Goenka introduced the entertainment world to DittoTV- Zee’s subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) service in a glittering press conference. This service enabled users to watch Live TV, movies, and music videos on their phones, PCs, laptops, and Blackberrys.

Not everyone present during that event would have understood the concept of online video streaming in an era of TV. Ditto TV was way ahead of its time in the low bandwidth and price-sensitive market of India. Hence, it failed and struggled to make a mark but certainly paved a way for the upcoming industry.



Selection of very competitive markets

The owner of an OTT business must clearly understand that this market is more than competitive, especially today.

Over the past year most areas have moved online. So it means that the OTT market today is not only entertainment content, but also training, fitness, yoga, cooking and many other amazing content.

And it also means that everyone will find exactly the niche in which he will be comfortable and which will bring both profit to the owner and benefit to people.




Boring content — not offer unique services to your viewers

Today the market for streaming services is overcrowded and this is a fact. One of the most common mistakes made by OTT owners is "doing like everyone else", being no different and ... being boring.

The modern viewer has become very picky. It is no longer enough for them to watch a movie or a TV series. Only for this reason, when entering the OTT market, you must thoroughly think over the content of your platform, namely, what you will broadcast. Perhaps you shouldn't dwell on one segment of the audience and consider several niches at the same time?


What could Hooq's owners have done better, that other services could learn from?

Aravind Venugopal, vice president, Media Partners Asia:

“It will be difficult to pinpoint exactly how, when and where Hooq went wrong in its five-year journey, and how much of this was brought about by internal decisions versus external market dynamics which were beyond its control. One of the challenges was the choice of content and the underlying economics. Hollywood movies/Western (primarily US dramas) had a following, but a significant portion of that base either already had a pay TV service, or were affluent enough to take a Netflix subscription—further squeezing the funnel of paying subscribers for platforms like Hooq, iflix and others. The cost of that content was also significant, especially when compared to local content. The pivot to local content kicked off in 2017/2018 as platforms like Hooq realised that subscriptions weren’t scaling, and that the masses preferred local language or Asian content (as evidenced by Viu’s success, and Iflix’ experiments with Korean).”



How to purchase content: buy or produce?

Some owners of OTT platforms rely on one type of content or another: delivery or production. It is very important to choose the right strategy from the very beginning so as not to make a mistake  in future.


Xiaofeng Wang, senior analyst, Forrester:

"Become a content creator. Produce your own original content to save the cost of purchasing copyrighted content. Netflix and Hulu adopt this model.”

What should you choose? The right answer is only up to you. Considering that the uniqueness and originality have always aroused the interest of the public, it is worth thinking about what exactly you can offer the viewer. Resale content is a great move. However, do not forget that the more unique the content, the more demand for it will be.

But not everything is as rosy as it might seem at first glance. Content uniqueness automatically narrows down your target audience. E.g Design And Test Lab announced the start of an innovative application development for fitness companies which are connected to OTT. It is the implementation of a solution that will significantly increase the number of fitness platform subscribers. You can view the presentation by following the link and ask your questions by pressing the Contact Us button.

Content protection

Theft of content is a commonplace, which is almost impossible to prevent. Owners of OTT platforms should not neglect the protection of their content. Moreover, if the content that is broadcast on the platform is unique. 

As pirate networks and monetization schemes become increasingly sophisticated and seek to meet growing consumer demand, operators must have a well-thought-out strategy in their arsenal to keep them competitive and protect revenues.

Case: “”

Megogo's marketing director Ivan Shestakov said that: “There is no fault of the platform before users.  Imagine the premiere of a movie in the United States. The next day you download it from torrents and watch a pirated video at home. How did it get there? Do you think iTunes or Netflix doesn't protect or merge content? No. Unfortunately, any protection can be broken today. There are dozens of them from different manufacturers, for different types of content delivery and for different devices. There are no uniform standards, so who can and does. On average, platforms such as Digital Rights Management cost millions of dollars per site. And all legal services have bought and used them - without it you simply will not sign the contract with Hollywood studios.”

Which way of protection to choose is a really hard decision. And we are glad to remind you about one of our previous articles. Follow the link and make the right choice!

Saving money on contractors




Trying their best to save money, OTT business owners sometimes hire people with no experience to develop the platform - students, interns, beginners, freelancers with little experience. Such people often have little experience to make decisions, they lack an understanding of the culture of teamwork.

Such a developer will only learn at the expense of the company, bringing little benefit to the project, or even bring it down.

Of course, there are exceptions and there is a chance to stumble upon a code genius, however, in most cases, young and inexperienced developers simply take up space and devour the time of more experienced colleagues who will have to constantly monitor the newbie's code and rework it.

It is very good if you are lucky enough to meet a young talent. But if you want to get your OTT platform on time and within budget, then you should, first of all, take care of the risks, and not count on luck.

Here you can see a clear example of the difference among Trainee,  Junior programmer III category, Software engineer II category, Senior software engineer III category and Lead software engineer in Design and Test Lab.



Not attracting investment 

There are both pluses and minuses in attracting investments in an OTT project. 

What happens in the development of your business without an investor?

  1. the platform is only yours and you do not need to share the profit with anyone.
  2. you make decisions alone, do not consult with anyone, rely only on your experience and intuition.
  3. you are completely exempted from any kind of reporting to a third party.

The other side of the coin looks like this:

  1. not enough money for the current expenses of a young company, such as marketing, staff expansion, rapid growth and promotion
  2. investors often have the expertise that you may not have or lack.
  3. investors can help with the right contacts, their advice is very useful in cases when it is important to make the right strategic decision. Without investors, you have to learn from your mistakes, which cannot be avoided if this is your first experience of building an OTT business.

The benefits of attracting investment:

  1. the investor is always interested in the development of the project and the earliest possible profit. The project, which is funded from outside, looks reliable and attractive.
  2. an investor can easily close the money gap. You do not have to take out a loan, which you will of course repay quickly. However, it is easier to address this problem to investors, avoiding unnecessary and unnecessary bureaucratic procedures.
  3. the contacts and opportunities of your investors can be quite extensive, as well as the experience of investing in projects. An experienced investor can not only finance your platform, but also suggest where to look for a quality developer or project manager. This rarely happens, but it does happen.

In fact, there are not so many minuses to attracting an outside investor to your OTT business:

  1. a certain amount of time will be spent on negotiating and reporting.
  2. you will have to constantly seek a compromise in the event of a difference of opinion between investors and your team.
  3. in time investors may have a controlling stake in your company. Your task is to make sure that in the event of this situation, the team does not lose motivation and retains its original composition in a larger number.


Aravind Venugopal, vice president, Media Partners Asia

“I believe that Singtel, as did its other shareholders, underestimated the scale of investment Hooq required, and the timelines for profitability.”

Tony Gunnarsson, principal analyst, OTT video, Omdia

“But now, at the turn of a new decade, with multiple new US next-generation services coming, the pressure is on for local and regional services to quickly upgrade and become services that can compete at a mass-market level (ie. with subscribers in the tens of millions, as opposed to hundreds of thousands). This will require a lot of investment but also the will to succeed. Services must abandon the idea that OTT video is some sort of side business; those that don’t are likely to fail.”

Disregard the technical side

Quality is not always equal to quantity. And the story is not only about the technical side. You can sprinkle your OTT platform with thousands of videos and wonder why subscribers leave after the try-buy period without paying for the subscription or do not renew the subscription. And it's all about the quality of the video that you uploaded on your platform.

Resolution, playback speed, buffering are all about quality. And the higher the quality of your content, the more subscribers your OTT platform will collect in the shortest possible time.





It's okay to be wrong. The one who does nothing is not mistaken. Our goal is to warn you, dear OTT business owners, and arm you with all the necessary components to build a reliable platform with content that will delight your users for years to come.

To make sure of the reliability of our company, you can contact us directly through the button “Contact us” on the website.

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