Whilst many of the first OTT services (circa 2006/7) were built in-house, with existing staff and perhaps using repurposed broadcast systems, by the third VOD product development cycle (around 2012), broadcasters and streaming providers seemed to have shifted to deploying external vendor solutions. This was especially true of automated processes like encoding and asset management, and specialised tasks like scheduling, content recommendation and content distribution. The advantages in using expert third-parties (including economies of scale, speed to market and, of course, total cost of ownership) meant that the “build vs. buy” debate seemed to be settled.

Apparently not!

I’ve been hearing from suppliers over the past year that as more clients explore going D2C, and taking inspiration from deals like Disney’s acquisition of Bamtech and the sale of You.i TV to Warner, the pendulum has started to swing the other way again.

The evolution of media businesses into Media/Tech and the great Build vs. Buy debate was the topic of this week’s OTT Question Time (Thursday 6 May). Together with Renato Bonomini, VP of Global Pre-Sales at ContentWise, Martijn van Horssen, CEO at 24i, and Thijs Feryn, Tech Evangelist at Varnish Software, we explored:

  • The history of Build vs. Buy in OTT product development
  • Why Build, at least for some providers, is back in vogue
  • Whether most broadcasters and service-providers aren’t, in reality, using hybrid methodologies
  • The pros and cons of Build / Buy / Hybrid / Acquisition
  • And the glass-to-glass processes that you definitely shouldn’t be doing in-house!



Kauser Kanji has been working in online video for 19 years, formerly at Virgin Media, ITN and NBC Universal, and founded VOD Professional in 2011. He has since completed major OTT projects for, amongst others, A+E Networks, the BBC, BBC Studios, Channel 4, DR (Denmark), Liberty Global, Netflix, Sony Pictures, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and UKTV. He now writes industry analyses, hosts an online debate show, OTT Question Time, as well as its in-person sister event, OTT Question Time Live

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