5 minutes with Sandip Sarda, CEO, Quiptel
1. What is exciting you most about the OTT industry currently?
I think we’re finally coming to an inflexion point in the telecom and media industry whereby content and tech are coming together. I’ve been in this industry for many years; I was involved in one of the earliest IPTV trials, and it’s taken a long time for the industry to get to this point. We’re now in a world where even the smaller players can reach their audience. There is a demand for content globally. The market has moved on from the red button approach of old. It’s about brand loyalty, whether it’s an artist, a sport or a genre of films. This means we can reach fans who are passionate about their content. Social, economic and emotional factors all contribute to viewer behaviour.
2. And what do you see as the sector’s greatest challenges?
I believe there are two sides to this. Firstly there’s the content. You can’t have an OTT experience without great content, it won’t get adopted. Successful content inherently offers the individual viewer great choice, relevance and a compelling user experience. Achieve all of this and you can keep the consumer engaged. The viewer isn’t thinking about the tech, they care about what they are watching and having an experience that matches their expectations.
Then there is the tech itself, and the biggest challenge for OTT streaming remains live, and how to deliver live content to huge world wide audiences. Today, OTT can’t match the same scale as satellite for example. That challenge is being addressed though. I believe that IP will become the defacto for streaming live content, but we’re not there yet. It’s an exciting time for Quiptel as we’re addressing this through understanding the value chain with our partners. Collaboration is key to making live content seamless and we’re taking care of that last mile.
3. What is unique or special about Quiptel?
From the very beginning we looked at the Internet and realised that the IP technologies it’s built on are not easy to scale for the delivery of video content. The more OTT players that join the market the greater the drain on current infrastructure. We have always focussed on streaming video through a variety of ways – we have multiple patents in these areas. We are creating content aware networks. We do smart routing that enables the desired user experiences across devices and across locations.
4. What are your personal highlights from your career to date? How has this prepared you for your role within the Group?
I bring international experience and vast knowledge of the sector having worked in a number of continents. I was there right at the start in both the US and UK. I’ve got a perspective from both the content and tech sides, having supplied content to telcos, and having worked in content acquisition and technical architecture roles.
I’ve enjoyed working for large multinationals as well as start-ups. After working for large corporate organisations, I led a very successful start-up (Asset House) through raise, growth and then exit. It was a steep and extremely rewarding learning curve, and an experience which equips me well for the growth of Quiptel and Falcon Media House.
5. Who do you see as your main competitors?
We’re focussed on giving the best experiences in OTT video delivery. You might expect us to compete with CDN providers however we’re actually complementary. We bring the smarts to the last mile.
6. How are you different from those competitors?
We can improve the end user experience using software rather than hardware or on the server side. We have a modular approach which means that if you have no OTT solution we can give you an end-to-end one, however if you already have an OTT service, but the UX is poor and you’re seeing high churn, we can come in and help.
7. What three points should people know about Quiptel and its role within Falcon Media House?
Quiptel is focused on enabling the best possible TV experience on the go. This means having quick start-up times, quick channel changes and buffer free viewing. We help enable our customers to make money by delivering the experiences that viewers want.
Within Falcon we’re the technology that is powering the disruption that’s taking place in the OTT space.
Within Falcon, the Quiptel team’s experience and knowledge about the sector is hugely important, it underpins the business we’re building. The senior team has been involved in 90% of the TV and broadcast industry over the past 20 years.
8. What has been the impact on technology in the OTT space over the last 5 years?
Nomadic devices (smartphones, tablets) are everywhere, and in some emerging markets they are the only entertainment device. Consumers went from listening to radio to watching video on phones in a short amount of time. The lowering price point of handsets has had a huge impact on video consumption. This has had a huge influence on the networks that simply haven’t scaled at the same rate.
In India, Reliance have just announced a phone which will cost the equivalent of £2.50 per month. They are tapping into a market of 500m users, many of whom cannot afford a TV satellite service but can afford a £2.50 per month smartphone with a data plan included. This inevitably puts a drain on the infrastructure.
9. What geographies offer the greatest opportunity for disrupting how content is broadcast? Where will Quiptel and Falcon have the most impact?
What excites me the most is the opportunity for content to reach its potential and to find and grow audiences, wherever they may be. In some ways geographies are irrelevant now, there are no boundaries anymore. Emerging markets present a massive opportunity, we’re taking global content across continents; whether it’s South African content to the UK, or Vietnamese content to Canada. That’s where we can make a difference, we enable users to engage with the brands and interests they’re passionate about. Regardless of where they are.
10. How do you relax away from work?
I like to take time out to be with my family and when I have the time I love to sail. I also enjoy travel and reading, interestingly it’s the non-technical stuff that I like to read.