The last few days have revealed significant OTT video setbacks, resulting in a tough week for the closely followed trend. Several high profile OTT efforts have experienced setbacks, adding fuel to the argument that OTT’s future is somewhat cloudy.

First in the chain of events was publicity surrounding the ‘nail in the coffin’ for ZillionTV. The once high flying OTT video darling reportedly had so much promise that Qwest invested $10 million in the effort. Multichannel News reports the investors for the shuttered streaming video service are shopping its remaining assets.

That news was followed over the weekend with an update about Sezmi, another OTT video provider who would have been a competitor to ZillionTV. Sezmi is actually in business, selling a set-top-box/DVR direct to consumers in select markets and offers multiple subscription OTT streaming options.

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Sezmi is scaling back these options, ending their $20/month package that included Internet delivery of 23 linear cable channels including popular ones like TBS, TNT, CNN, and Discovery Channel, among others. The Select Plus service was only available in Los Angeles, and it will end on December 28th.

Sezmi is now only offering a $5/month plan that combines local broadcast channels, and a mix of VOD and web content. Sezmi currently offers its service in 36 markets.

Last, but certainly not least, is news that Google TV is struggling – so much so they’ve decided to pull the plug on much of their efforts at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show. That’s big news, considering CES is prime time for introducing or expanding a product like Google TV. The New York Times reports that Google has asked many of its Google TV partners to scale back or completely stop Google TV product demonstrations, while they work to improve its offer.

Google TV has received a lukewarm response, at best, to its 2010 launch of Google TV. Sales are way below expectations and content partners are blocking access to key online content for Google TV users.

All of this is great fodder for OTT pessimists, of which there are many. But these developments certainly don’t signal any firm direction for OTT video, negative or positive. They do reveal that industry and business model disruption is not an easy business, despite the hype and buzz it creates. The jury is definitely still out regarding OTT video and its implications.

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6 thoughts on “Tough Week for OTT Video

  1. Isn't Sezmi news positive for them? The idea of offering a cable 'lite' service doesn't make sense to me. Cable companies could simply respond to that when they started to feel threatened and crush it. What these OTT guys should be doing is appealing to cord cutters – create a service that attracts people who no longer want to pay $40 – $70 per month for cable service.

    Create something very different at much lower cost, not try to just have a lighter version of what they already have. Seems like their $5/month service does that.

  2. This is Apple's game to lose. They have tens of millions of video capable iOS devices already in the market. As soon as they find the right way to integrate some hybrid form of OTT video – game over.

  3. Content partners are not wanting to pay ISP to allow their content in. They say blocking their content is not fair and they support net neutrality. However they are blocking Google TV from getting to their content. Hmm, is this a double standard?

    1. Of course there's a double standard. These are huge conglomerates that control content. What conglomerate doesn't employ double standards to make things work their way? Especially content conglomerates.

  4. @ISP Man

    The real interesting thing about the content folks blocking Google TV is they are blocking their own websites that house this content – websites that anyone can get to from the web. It's not like they are trying to prevent Google TV users from accessing their content from third parties (legitimate or otherwise). In this regard, Google TV could be another channel to drive traffic to their own sites – a desirable goal, one would think – yet they don't want to empower Google to do so.

    Shows you how complex this OTT issue is and how reticent traditional players are about it.

  5. I deal with content providers. They are the most greedy people you will meet. This is why they are stopping Google TV and OTT. The content providers are acting like they don't mind OTT. However, if everyone started watching OTT and not regular TV , the content providers would go under.

    They would loose all of their Commercial revenue. They would also not be able to charge cable companies ridiculous rates for programming. FOX

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