How 5G Will Change the OTT Game

Over-the-top (OTT) platforms have drastically changed the way we consume media over the last few years. With OTT services now commonplace for households across the globe, consumer expectations for streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu continue to grow in tandem with this expansion.

As demands for high-quality content and seamless streaming rise, 5G presents the perfect opportunity to drive OTT viewer experience to new heights - especially as video accounts for the majority mobile internet bandwidth used today. With 5G’s super fast download speeds (up to ten times as fast as today’s current networks!) and low latency, video-on-demand viewers will be able to say goodbye to buffering videos and stop-start streaming.

In fact, 82% of broadcasters surveyed by Nevion expect TV content access via 5G to overtake traditional methods. Let’s dive into how 5G will revolutionize the OTT game for viewers around the world.

Cloud computing and 5G bridge the gap between broadcast and broadband

5G will pull the cloud computing infrastructures that are vital to delivering OTT services closer to end users, allowing for real-time processing and minimal latency. By bringing the processing to local “macro” towers supported by 5G, user experience is no longer constrained by distant servers or the individual device’s computing power.

This combination of cloud computing and 5G networks holds huge promise for the delivery of real-time data and live streaming via OTT networks. In fact, Amazon Web Services and Verizon have already started exploring the possibility of live streaming NFL games using 5G, which is now installed in 13 NFL stadiums. With the increase in sports streaming in OTT platforms - Amazon Prime streams Thursday Night NFL games and Premier League soccer matches - 5G and cloud infrastructures will allow for seamless, real-time delivery of data.

With live sports traditionally being a stronghold of TV broadcasters, 5G will enable OTT platforms to draw in more viewers and get a bigger slice of the pie.

5G will power VR and AR applications in streaming

Right now, many applications of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for content streaming are limited by the processing power of 4G which often results in glitchy and slow-to-load experiences. With the advent of 5G networks, viewers will be able to have seamless immersive experiences within their favorite shows and movies using VR and AR.

Consumer enthusiasm for VR and AR uses for content streaming is on the rise, with 45% of those surveyed by IBM being most excited about the VR entertainment options when it comes to 5G applications. The same survey found that 50% of consumers are enthusiastic about AR in movies and series and its potential to deliver additional content.

5G is critical in moving VR forward for streaming services as complex VR processing can be done in the cloud with more computational power. The NBA recently signed a partnership with Verizon to integrate VR viewing options into the NBA League Pass streaming platform, and this is a trend that we can expect to see expanding within all types of content streaming as 5G becomes a reality.

Consumer expectations will soar

Along with quality of the content itself, the standard of video streaming is the main criteria influencing customer satisfaction of OTT platforms. 75% of IBM survey respondents say that video streaming quality is important for them, while 68% of respondents said they would switch to a better provider for a higher-quality experience. As 5G networks promise to bring faster speeds and a more reliable connection, viewers will no longer have to deal with the common frustrations of sluggish load times and midstream stops and stutters. In fact, 5G adoption on the part of the streaming giants is already starting to emerge: Disney is teaming up with Verizon to deliver 5G connectivity across the board, from production to personal customer experiences. It’s only a matter of time before other OTT platforms partner with 5G providers in an attempt to satisfy customer demands and stay ahead in the streaming wars.

The excitement around 5G for viewers applies to streaming on mobile too. 58% of consumers are excited about the potential to view UHD video (4K and 8K) on mobile devices using 5G networks.

Today’s 5G networks are still in their infancy, but we are beginning to see the scale of the impact of 5G on media consumption. Whether it’s powering VR immersive experiences in users’ favourite film, allowing them to livestream sporting events online with no delay, or simply letting them settle into a series without ever having to wait for it to buffer again, 5G promises to take OTT media viewing to new heights.

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