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Interview: Oleg Tumanov, founder and CEO of Ivi.ru

Oleg Tumanov

Ivi.ru CEO, Oleg Tumanov

Oleg Tumanov founded Russian subscription-free online video streaming service Ivi.ru in 2009 and is the company’s CEO. Prior to launching Ivi.ru in 2010, he was managing director for Russia and CIS at US-based Access Industries. From 2001 to 2004, Tumanov was deputy chief executive officer of Russia’s Alfa Bank. In 2000-2001, he was deputy chairman of the executive board at NIKoil. From 1994 to 2000, he held senior executive positions in several US and Swiss financial services firms. Between 1990 and 1994, Oleg was deputy chairman of the board at Mosbusinessbank.

What can OTT offer that consumers in your market will respond to and how does it compare with other international markets?

Today we are witnessing dramatic changes in people’s behavior and habits in consuming media content. OTT video services offer freedom and choice in video content selection, which were unavailable several years ago. A huge variety of top quality movies, TV series, programs and animations, accessible on all screens – PCs, mobile phones, tablet computers, smart TVs and connected devices such as media players and game consoles – are all features of current OTT services.

Some online video companies go further and develop more personalised experiences for their users, providing recommendations and offering a selection of video content based on consumers’ preferences, viewing history, differences and similarities of previously watched films and even his or her friends’ viewing patterns.

Is OTT a competitor or complementary to ‘traditional’ pay TV services and why?

Until recently OTT and traditional pay TV services have been offering different products to their customers – where cable and pay TV operators offer linear video viewing, and OTT services offer video-on-demand. As long as each of the services stick to their base proposal, I can see that these companies can co-exist and even cooperate in making a more complete proposition for their customers. However, we can see that some of the pay TV operators try to develop their own OTT VOD solutions, and, as well, video-on-demand companies are going to offer aggregated TV channels in their applications. It remains to be seen how it will all evolve in the future.

Does OTT need to have a broad-based content offering or can it succeed by targeting particular niche groups, and is there a need for early-release premium content?

Several players on the Russian market are trying to compete [by] offering as broad a selection of content as possible. We have too many players in the market without a clear differentiation in their content proposal. I believe that with time we will have fewer “general” aggregators. Some will transform into more specialised players focusing on a certain type of content or having some specific features in their product.

What are the key challenges facing operators such as yourself and how can you overcome them?

The market conditions in this segment are changing so quickly, we see desire to develop OTT services by all major players in the value chain, meaning content producers, telecom operators, media companies, TV companies etc. All these players, in addition to vast financial resources, also have expertise in some of the areas related to our operations. The only remedy we have to be successful is to move fast, upgrade our product every month, develop new features for our customers that were not available just a few months ago, and find the best possible and most relevant content for our customers. All the above represent challenges and each day contributes to building our competitive position and defending our playground.

Oleg Tumanov will be speaking on the OTT pre-conference day on June 24, to register click here.

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