Over-the-Top (OTT) Outages Prove There’s Still a Challenge with Delivery

OTT providers must provide mainstream-quality levels of service to truly appeal to today’s viewers. Although delivering various streams simultaneously is not easy, viewers won’t care about the technical challenges involved to ensure the quality of their experience. They only care about watching what they want, when and where they want it, without any problems. As a provider, delivering quality of experience should rank among your top-most priorities. So what are you doing to address this?

Recently, two well-publicized events occurred that highlight the rather sad truth that providers are still falling short of viewer expectations. On the evening of Sunday, June 19, HBO’s $14.99/month stand-alone OTT subscription service HBO Now went down for many viewers wanting to stream the 9pm premiere of the season finale for “Game of Thrones” on demand. The episode, “Battle of the Bastards,” was heavily promoted as a series changer.

Oddly enough, HBO backtracked from admitting anything went wrong. Shortly after 10pm Eastern, when the episode ended, HBO announced via Twitter: “We are pleased to confirm that successful streaming had resumed.”

Here was one HBO Now subscriber’s less-than-pleased reply:


That same Sunday, Charter’s Spectrum TV Plus OTT streaming service went down during the final minutes of Game 7 where the Cleveland Cavaliers finally brought the championship home after a long-awaited 52 years.

Different technical problems may have brought down both services at critical times that Sunday, but for paying viewers and businesses, the impact was undoubtedly painful.

Both instances prove that quality matters even for on-demand services. Rants on social media justify this. Social media users will make their voices heard whether or not they’re watching live or on demand.

For OTT providers, one word can describe the impact felt: expensive. HBO alone said it fielded 15,000 customer service reports from the outage. In addition to the cost of those calls, these providers are likely suffering from current subscriber abandonment and loss of potential new customers due to negative media coverage.

So what do live and on demand have in common? It’s simple. They must perform perfectly. 100 percent uptime might be a high bar for OTT services to accomplish, but not delivering on these expectations is too high of a price to pay.

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