What does it take to build a growing audience and what is an OVP?

There are various, amazing looking hardware- and software-encoders on the market, sold for easily $15,000 and more. These types of live-encoders in the five-figure-range are often used with CDN contracts starting at $2000-3000/month - not seldom plus storage, plus expensive overage costs and other, separately billed services. Since most CDN subscriptions are "naked" many CDN customers are required to build their own video players, thumbnail galleries and other integration tools (starting in the mid 5-digits of development costs), invest into statistic services and the internal human resources of skill-sets to develop and manage everything. We are talking about large organizations with large budgets who have the power and energy to build and manage everything on their own. But: is professional livestreaming and VOD delivery to multiple platforms, outlets and mobile devices, through high-performance CDNs really a luxury reserved to those who have six figures to spend on it per year? And: do you really need such expensive encoders and CDN contracts?

I would say: "no you don't" and "nope, professional, high-performance and ad-free delivery with unlimited custom integration on your websites and apps is not a privilege exclusive to the 1% mega-organizations". Not any longer!

If you are using streaming media in order to build your audience, extend your viewership, grow your organization and to develop revenue streams through your growing popularity, then you need to utilize the following:

1. All outlets possible: Roku, AppleTV/iTunes, GoogleTV, other SmartTV platforms, social sites, mobile apps, your conversion optimized websites and landing pages (and maybe even some TV broadcast if feasible).

2. A detailed statistic service which gives you real data on viewership and allows you to refine your presentation and strategy.

3. Well designed, "custom-everything": custom players on your websites, custom apps - all designed in your corporate design.

4. Follow-up and conversion mechanisms in place: how do you convert viewers into followers, prospects and further on into customers and supporters?

5. Products/Services: what do you want customers to pay for? What products and services are you providing?

So, which service providers do you need to cover these requirements? Generally speaking, these three types of service providers cover it:

1. a CDN (Content Delivery): provides you with storage and high-performance VOD and Livestream delivery, sometimes bitrate-adaptive and including mobile delivery.

2. an OVP (Online Video Platform): provides you with transcoding, customizable players, archive embed tools, live-event management, media management interfaces to control your multi-platform delivery, statistic services, payment and subscription services, and sometimes a pretty extensive range of very helpful and nifty tools to extend your reach and grow and monetize your audiences.

3. a Developer: for your custom SmartTV and set-top-box Apps (Roku, GoogleTV, Yahoo Connected TV, NeoTV, etc...), for your mobile apps (iOS, Android - Tablets, Smartphones) and for your Online Media Campus and Websites.

Most OVPs have CDNs have their own integrated CDN, or partner with powerful, worldwide CDNs. The ideal scenario for you as a customer is of course to receive as much service as possible from one single vendor. Ideally you would find a partner who is an OVP, CDN and Developer all in one. Not only is it a lot easier (thus cheaper) for the CDN and OVP provider to integrate players and archive galleries on your websites and apps, but it is also a lot faster and simply more efficient. Working with only a single point of contact saves time and hassle and you can avoid the blame-shifting between multiple vendors (which can get on your nerves after while). A package solution for all your Live, VOD, SmartTV, mobile and web delivery needs, including web and app development, is in most cases to the benefit of the customer - both in terms of price, time, hassle and security.

Look for the most integrated, best equipped package solution and don't forget to look at the vendor's heart, vision and overall business strategy & mission. The more it falls in line with yours - the happier you will be over this long-term relationship.