Video management platform provider Ooyala is introducing several new features today to make online and mobile video more accessible and pervasive across devices. The new features include Hook (a mobile video playback app for Android), XTV Connect (to bridge mobile video to any connected TV) and Ooyala Discovery Guide (to create live/VOD program guides). Below I describe each in more detail and explain their respective importance.
Hook - For users, Android has become a serious contender to Apple's iOS devices, but with its multiple releases and fragmented device manufacturer landscape, it has become a massive headache for content providers looking to reach this growing audience. Recognizing this problem, last fall Ooyala introduced its HTML5 video player. Now, going much further, Ooyala has introduced "Hook" a mobile video app that includes DRM, adaptive bit-rate (ABR) delivery plus support for live/linear streaming and ad insertion.
Android users download Hook either as a prompt when first encountering Hook video, or from the Google Play store. Once downloaded, it will play any Hook-enabled video. As a result, content providers no longer need to build and maintain native Android apps, which are expensive and burdensome. For Ooyala customers, Hook is a huge step forward in addressing the Android user base, solving a problem that Google itself has not really touched.
XTV Connect - If you've ever seen or used Apple's AirPlay, you know well the beauty of flinging video from a mobile device to the big screen with one touch. But while AirPlay is terrific for pairing Apple devices and there other solutions are for the Android-only universe, wouldn't it be great to have an option for heterogeneous device situations? That's what XTV Connect is. Leveraging DLNA technology, which Ooyala says is built into virtually all connected TVs, XTV Connect gives users of any iOS or Android mobile device the ability to fling video to their connected big screen.
This means the experience of discovering video on a mobile device - which has become increasingly prevalent - can more easily translate to viewing on a connected TV. This has obvious benefits to both the viewer and to the content provider. And as connected TV deployments soar in the years to come, XTV Connect's value will increase as well.
Ooyala Discovery Guide - Speaking of discovery, Ooyala is also updating its Ooyala Discovery feature to enable content providers to blend live, linear and on-demand content into one user experience. Discovery Guide uses a variety of data sources, user input and editorial controls to drive personalized programming. It allows watch-later queuing, a DVR-like feature so if a viewer sees something they like but don't have time for right now, it's easily accessible later.
There's also an "up next" preview so at the conclusion of one program, the subsequent one is prompted (Netflix does this and I've always thought it's very effective). All of this is meant to drive longer viewing sessions and monetization. Ooyala says the original Discovery feature drove 30% lift in viewing times and believes the new Discovery Guide feature will improve it further. These days there is no shortage of 3rd-party discovery apps, but Ooyala is trying to give content providers more direct control themselves of the discovery/recommendation process.
Net, net, Ooyala's new features continue to push the market forward, making video ever more pervasive. The winners here are content providers seeking broader delivery/monetization and users hungry for easier video access across their favorite devices.