Q&A: Backscreen’s Jan Frelek on the need for ‘cross-gen’ OTT

Jan Frelek, chief commercial officer at OTT TV technology company Backscreen, talks to DTVE’s Stuart Thomson about the compelling need for a new ‘cross-gen’ OTT experience.


Jan Frelek

Jan Frelek

Stuart Thomson: What’s up, Jan?

Jan Frelek: Hey Stuart. I have good news and bad news. Which one first?

Stuart Thomson: Go with the bad one.

Jan Frelek: All OTT apps have become obsolete.

Stuart Thomson: And the good one?

Jan Frelek: Backscreen App has come up with the next-gen thing. Read: cross-gen.

Stuart Thomson: Is that self-confidence or arrogance?

Jan Frelek: How old are you, Stuart?

Stuart Thomson: 18, forever.

Jan Frelek: Lucky you. Well, I’m a half century fox. So I went to this birthday party and met my elementary school mates after 35 years. Surprisingly they have not changed a lot. Except for one thing: self-awareness.

Self-awareness – this has been missing also in the OTT industry. Who are we in the driving seat of this industry? Middle-agers who used to chase VHS or DVD in some shops or rental outlets. Our lifetime achievement has been to replicate this UX in the digital space in the form of portal which in the matter of fact is a wall of shelves with VHS cassettes.

Stuart Thomson: And Netflix has excelled in this transformation. Also by literally transforming from remote DVD rental company into digital video rental portal.

Jan Frelek: Exactly. But it’s only a mirror of our generation, middle-agers. And we have thought we’ve reached nirvana.

Yet when we turn on the self-awareness mode, we can see that there are other species out there. They have been screaming to us “We don’t want another brick in the wall”. And we were coming up with better search windows, content recommendation engines, swim lanes optimisations. All good, but everything within the master paradigm of the portal.

Stuart Thomson: My parents really have never made it to the portal. Most of their time they watch plain old live TV.

Jan Frelek: And we must respect it. We must hear their scream. And it’s even not that we haven’t heard it. We were surprised hearing it what we were expressing in captions like “Live TV is not dead” or “FAST on the growth”. But we’ve never seriously embraced it within OTT UX.

Until now. Until Backscreen.


Stuart Thomson: How would the Backscreen App please my parents?

Jan Frelek: Operators powered by Backscreen App will not hit this audience who are after live TV with a portal . Instead the viewer will enjoy a live TV experience assisted by non-linear options to gradually become immersed into. In the context of live TV. We call it a Live-TV centric UX.

Stuart Thomson: What are these options? Time shifting?

Jan Frelek: Yes. Plus a revised approach to the EPG, search and portal presentation. Plus appropriate onboarding.

The key to success is the perfect UX design. The Backscreen App provides this ease of use and allows each user to find his sweet spot in consuming video on this immersive journey from single live TV channel to portal.

Stuart Thomson: And what about my kids? They are immersed in TikTok and Instagram.

Jan Frelek: Bingo. This is the third generation we need to take care about. However we name them, this audience is the future. So securing them is of strategic importance. And they are the hardest ones to capture.

The Backscreen App goes beyond mimicking the content wall experience. As the challenge is much more sophisticated. And as it is pure global innovation, I can’t share more details here. Instead all operators and broadcasters are welcome to contact the Backscreen Team for the details.

Trust me, there’s a method in this madness.

Stuart Thomson: Backscreen is a fairly new player in the industry. How have you made it?

Jan Frelek: Backscreen is a new brand indeed, because the cross-gen OTT UX deserves it. The same way as the UX-optimised PC and smartphone deserved the brand of Apple.

Behind this brand are industry veterans with over 20 years of experience and nine years of OTT core development for Tet, the Baltic flagship telco and media company. There is also a 50-people strong team who have been serving operators, broadcasters and video portals in EMEA over the last decade under the Telia Media Services and Tet Media Services brands. We boast around 50 customers across our product offering.

The Backscreen App and its cross-gen TV comes out of this experience. And is brought to life by the team of  designers dedicated to Backscreen product development.

Stuart Thomson: Anyone already enrolled for the Backscreen App?

Jan Frelek: Yes. Obviously I can’t disclose who they are. The launch is planned for later this year.

Operators and broadcasters have made such tremendous efforts to secure their content, to manage their organisations, to amass their audiences. Backscreen is here to support operators and broadcasters in keeping their audiences. There is no better anti-churn OTT app to the Backscreen App.

Perhaps I should also mention that the Backscreen App comes with an innovative business model. Money should not be a problem.

Stuart Thomson: Words, words, words. When and where can you show the Backscreen App?

Jan Frelek: The public presentation is split in two parts.

We invite industry fellows to the NEM conference in Dubrovnik, 10-13 June 2024, to see the big screen experience spanning two generations.

The complete suite will be staged on IBC in Amsterdam, 13-16 Sep 2024. Hall 5.

Stuart Thomson: Thank you, Jan.

Jan Frelek: Thank You, Stuart. It was a pleasure.

This is sponsored content.

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