OTT Strategies Continue to Develop; Stay Tuned (or Logged In)

One of the big buzzword acronyms at NATPE recently—and in video marketing in general is “OTT.” If you aren’t familiar, OTT is a term coined from the phrase “over the top television” which is a way to characterize videos that are consumed from the web or social media channels on devices that aren’t built for traditional broadcast, cable and satellite TV, like tablets and laptops. This is the age when millennials in particular are “cutting the cord.” Many simply don’t subscribe to cable or satellite or put up the digital antenna. Yet, they watch plenty of video, thanks to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon, among other sources.

A good example of OTT programming is actually is “House of Cards”–which is on Netflix. Although people watch Netflix on their conventional TVs, it’s technically a wireless OTT platform.

Now, the one of the country’s biggest wireless carriers and one of the largest media conglomerates plan to launch two OTT channels this Spring. (Not to be outdone DirecTV has its own plans for millennial cord-cutters)

Verizon and Hearst are building a joint venture to make digital video aimed at  millennials, aiming to launch two channels in the spring on platforms like the mobile carrier’s Go90 app and its unit AOL. Yes, AOL is still a major online player.

The two channels, and Seriously.TV, will launch before NewFronts, a series of New York-based events during which digital media companies fete advertisers and media buyers with the hope of scoring ad deals. NewFronts is set to begin in the first two weeks of May. will be aimed at “millennials from the heartland,” the companies said, and will feature news updates, documentaries and series about music, food, outdoor life, military affairs, politics and faith.

Seriously.TV will be a place for comedic news updates, which the companies are angling as a replacement to late-night programming’s take on world events.

The joint venture, called Verizon Hearst Media Partners, is a play to combine Verizon’s recent expansions into digital video through Go90 and AOL with Hearst’s investments in online networks like BuzzFeed, Vice and AwesomenessTV.

Verizon Hearst Media Partners will be headquartered in New York City. Additional details of the venture will be announced at a later date. Meanwhile, you see a lot of promotion for the new YouTube Red and other emerging OTT platforms. For a TV series I developed last Fall (Coffee With America, see , I’m noticing sponsors are focused on the online audience as much as our broadcast ratings. We’re not at the point that online is more important than broadcast, but it is certainly more engaging on a one-to-one basis.