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Written by
Boston Consulting Group
September 21st, 2016

Boston Consulting Group publishes a report on the impact of OTT (Over The Top) on video production around the world.


Source: Boston Consulting Group

Download the full report


A digital revolution is putting more than half a trillion dollars into play. Television and filmed entertainment, especially traditional broadcast TV, is being transformed by the big and fast-growing inroads of internet and over-the-top (OTT) video platforms. Some $570 billion in annual market value—in content creation, aggregation, and distribution—is at stake.

OTT television—representing some $25 billion in annual revenues worldwide and generated mostly by a handful of big US-based global players, including Netflix, Amazon, and Google’s YouTube—is at the center of this revolution.

Its impact on traditional networks (broadcast and pay TV) and video distributors (cable, telco, and satellite) has been extensively examined. To date, however, there has been little study of the impact of OTT and the changing TV landscape on the various domestic production ecosystems around the world.

In this report, we evaluate the business, economic, employment, and cultural effects of OTT, drawing on both a high-level assessment of the changing global landscape and a cross-comparison of key markets that represent different types of local video production. We address the following questions:

  • Around the world, how is OTT evolving and which companies are emerging as winners and losers?
  • What is the impact of OTT on consumers’ viewing habits across various content platforms, formats, content genres, and subgenres (such as sports, news, serialized dramas, and procedurals)?
  • How are viewer time, programming revenues, and production spending shifting between global and locally produced content for OTT and traditional players? What is the impact of these shifts on content genres and subgenres, professional and amateur content producers, and other participants in the ecosystem?
  • Is content creation and acquisition becoming a global business that will overwhelm domestic production? Will OTT’s growth cannibalize domestic content production as the balance of consumption time and revenues moves to global OTT players, or will OTT spur increased domestic content production as the avenues for reaching consumers proliferate and local content becomes an essential differentiator?
  • What is the knock-on effect of these trends on human and economic content creation activity, as well as on local societies and cultures?

In writing this report, our goal is to contribute to the private- and public- sector discourse by providing insight into how the evolving video sector in general and the rise of OTT in particular are affecting production ecosystems around the world.

For media, the biggest impact of the OTT market has been the removal of barriers—strategic, economic, and national—to the distribution of video content.

  • This shift has unlocked new types and ways of viewing and has freed consumers from time- and location-based viewing limitations.
  • It has also facilitated, on a global basis, content creators’ access to consumers and consumers’ access to content.

In terms of financial value, the biggest beneficiaries of OTT thus far have been the large US-based global OTT service providers.

  • There are more than 500 OTT service providers worldwide, and most of them are local players competing in a single market.
  • The top five global OTT players—Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, and YouTube—represent approximately half of total market revenues, and they are well positioned to capture future growth. They have strategic advantages in areas such as scale in content creation and technology.

Overall, content creation is booming, thanks in large part to OTT.

  • The amount of video content is rising, the number of content creators is increasing, and the market value of content is higher than ever.
  • Traditional professional content producers and distributors have more consumer segments to reach and more buyers for content. They also benefit from the ability of content to travel more easily across national boundaries.
  • Some 1 billion professional amateur (pro-am) and amateur content creators, many of them enabled by OTT (as a mechanism to make money and access viewers), are adding daily (actually, hourly) to the content mix available through OTT channels.

    OTT’s impact is reshaping the economics of content genres.

  • OTT is driving tremendous growth in many categories, including compelling “water cooler” content, live programming, well-crafted niche content, and new nontraditional original content. Furthermore, the middle tier of entertainment programming, long the backbone of traditional TV producers, is collapsing as content consumption bifurcates at the top of the market with high production value, must-watch shows that can cut through the clutter, and more modest traditional professional, pro-am, or even amateur productions that appeal to a proliferating array of audience segments. The OTT community is driving far more of the growth in original video production than traditional TV companies.

  • In news, pro-am and amateur content available on YouTube, Facebook, and other OTT platforms is winning share over professional news organizations, democratizing the creation of and participation in news content. These platforms are loosening control of news content in countries with highly concentrated traditional TV industries.
  • In sports, major live events remain highly valuable in the traditional TV context as one of TV channels’ few remaining vehicles for attracting major audiences. OTT is driving additional growth by creating new avenues for monetization, including for events that appeal to small niche audiences.

Producers in English-speaking markets around the world are benefiting most from the OTT-driven shifts; the outlook for content creation in non-English-speaking markets appears less positive.

  • In English-speaking markets, global OTT players seeking to serve local viewers and build local libraries as well as the enhanced international portability of English-language content that OTT has enabled have driven a spike in foreign investment in domestic production. However, the same global OTT players (for example, Netflix) also invest disproportionally in US-produced content, thus possibly undermining local content production in English-speaking markets over the long term.
  • In non-English-speaking markets, growth of traditional professional content has been more muted because language differences mean that such content doesn’t travel well internationally. At the same time, local content remains a key to differentiation for both OTT and traditional players and is likely to be quite resilient in the face of longer-term English-language content globalization. Moreover, non-English-speaking markets, like all other markets, are benefiting from the growth of pro-am and amateur content.

The impact of OTT on local employment and culture is mixed.

  • In the traditional professional context, employment is not growing at the same rate as production dollars. However, pro-am and amateur activity is on the rise—albeit the latter mostly as a hobby rather than a profession.
  • The impact on local culture, events, and storytelling is hard to quantify. Local producers are at risk as OTT players push traditional professional content producers to develop big hits with global appeal to the detriment of local “stories.” At the same time, pro-am and amateur content creation, much of which is “hyperlocal” in focus, has become a significant factor in the cultural landscape.

The long-term impact of OTT is an evolving story.

  • It remains unclear whether recent OTT-driven growth in content production will continue, eventually plateau, or even decline, as some predict.
  • Traditional networks may eventually moderate their spending on content as competitive pressures from OTT services build.
  • In the US, OTT players’ content expenditures will likely continue to increase for some time, but the benefits to in-country production outside the US are less clear: OTT players could shift their focus from licensing or commissioning domestic content to acquiring local rights to US-based productions.
  • It will be crucial to understand the growth of pro-am and amateur content relative to traditional professional production and its related importance as a vehicle for economic activity, creative pursuits, and local storytelling. Technology, consumer preference, and competitive moves have changed the traditional playing field, and regulatory and cultural policy will need to evolve to this new context.
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