Insights from Dan Rayburn’s Streaming Summit at NAB Show 2024

Matthijs Langendijk
8 min readApr 23, 2024


Every year thousands in the industry flock to Las Vegas for NABshow and Dan Rayburn’s Streaming Summit. As did I, for the first time! In this blog, I’ll walk through some of the topics covered specifically during the Summit, and shine a light on some of the insights and knowledge I’ve gained.


If I had to pick one recurring topic at not just the Streaming Summit, but also NAB in general, it is advertising. Everybody is trying to figure out ads, in multiple different ways. With consumer spending on OTT services going down, companies are trying to figure out new business models. Often combining a small monthly fee with ads, like Netflix for example, the fight for users' little money they have to spend is stronger than ever. But what are some of the ingredients you need to make a valid business model out of an ad-supported service?

First party data

Data is everything. The more you know about your users and how they interact with your application, the more valuable they are for companies looking to advertise. Ad publishers can use that first-party data to better target specific user segments, in turn making ad campaigns a lot more effective. And that effectiveness costs. The usage data of your own apps and website give a lot of useful insights, something that you shouldn’t be sleeping on!

Understanding ad-tolerance

Managing the ad load in your OTT services is another topic where data plays a crucial role. You might think that pushing as many ads as possible is going to yield you the most amount of profit, you honestly couldn’t be more wrong. Much like subscriber fatigue, ad fatigue is something people actively experience as well. You have to be very careful about how many ads you push and use your data to understand the perfect ad-load levels. Too many ads might result in a lot of churn, while too few ads will harm your potential profits. It’s a tricky balance that you’ll have to experiment and A/B-test with, and may even have to tweak over time as ad-tolerance among people changes.

Seamless experience

Ads are disruptive by nature. They ‘prevent’ users from watching the content they came to watch, if only for a short period. So if you want to keep your users happy while they have to endure seeing advertisements, it’s important to make the experience as seamless as possible. Picking a proper video player to manage the seamless cross-over between regular content and ads is an important topic there. And, of course, your app shouldn’t crash or have long loading times when ads are being played. Users basically shouldn’t notice that ads are playing, except for seeing different video content on screen. Ads are disruptive by nature, but they shouldn’t disrupt your users.

Direct vs indirect measurements

What cannot be forgotten about ads of course is measuring their effectiveness. But how exactly do you do that? For a lot of screentypes that’s actually rather simple. On both mobile devices and web browsers, you can capture the clicks from users on the ads which often leads them to a specific webpage. That page is of course tracked properly, making the correlation between the ad and the page visit. On the big screen things aren’t that simple. What I’ve seen on NAB and the Summit a lot was the usage of QR codes, to directly drive traffic to a certain webpage. Which gives a means of direct measurement for all of these screens. On the other hand, using indirect measurement is another (less accurate) means of measuring effectiveness. After airing an ad on a certain platform, you do of course expect traffic to certain webpages to increase. Measuring this against the time the ad was visible and possibly how many times it was viewed, is very valuable for measuring the effectiveness of the ad campaign.


Continuing a little with a different aspect of ad-centric trends, FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming Television) is another topic that’s very much on everyone’s mind. Many panels at the Streaming Summit discussed FAST in one way or another. It provided some interesting insights, and also different opinions, on what place FAST is supposed to take in the ecosystem.

An acquisition mechanism

Something of a different opinion from what I generally hear about FAST is that it could also be used as an acquisition mechanism. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket and considering FAST channels as a stand-alone business model; you can also use FAST to acquire new users. Rather than putting all your top-notch content out for free in a channel, show only parts of it. Want to watch more of said content? Here is a subscription to our OTT service that allows you unlimited access. This goes especially well for live sports. A FAST channel can be used throughout the week, keeping engagement high, to build up hype towards the live match on the weekend. This match is then only accessible with a day pass or subscription. It’s a great acquisition mechanism, that can even provide a profit on its own.

Market maturity and saturation

An important takeaway from the Summit regarding FAST is the maturity of the market. Especially in North America, FAST has been building a strong userbase for several years now, through the likes of Xumo, Pluto TV and Samsung TV Plus. A representative from Samsung TV Plus even explained the number of requests for adding FAST channels to their platform they get — a staggering 1000 requests per week! It goes to show how many companies are jumping into the hype of FAST.

This also highlights a different aspect of FAST channels in general. Initially, the FAST market in North America (and in Europe currently) was flooded with low-quality, hastily compiled content. Now that the market has been established in North America, the number of channels making it into the previously mentioned main platforms has drastically reduced. In other words, the market is saturated. Only channels with a high degree of quality have the chance of making it into one of those platforms. Looking at Europe on the other hand, the market is still relatively new and up and coming. It makes the barrier to entry a lot lower. So if you were ever considering launching a FAST channel in Europe, now is the time.

Lack of consumer focus

What has also triggered me a lot during the conference, is how everybody was talking about business. Sure, money is what makes the world go around, but should it really be the only focus? I believe it was Christy Tanner, who mentioned during the panel in which she participated, how we’ve all collectively forgotten about the consumer. It’s something I resonate with very much.

One of the best examples I can give you about the lack of consumer focus is the massive amount of fragmentation in the industry. It’s something that was discussed at length during the Summit as well. The likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney and a bunch of others, are all fighting for the rights of the latest and greatest content. It makes the discovery process for consumers very difficult — you simply don’t know anymore where to find the content you know and love. Is it on Netflix? Is it on Disney? Is it on some niche service? We’ve all collectively focused on the business aspect and trying to make as much profit as possible, but forgotten that watching content should be easy and accessible — for everyone.

We need to do better. That’s the gist of it. We need to ensure users can find their content effectively, for which there are several methods to achieve it. What’s already happening from the likes of Roku and Vizio, for example, is the universal search functionality as part of the OS. It gives users a single interface to search content across OTT services. On the other hand, that doesn’t solve the fragmentation in general. Is this the time for the bundling of services to make a comeback?

AI: the dirty word

It wouldn’t be 2024 if artificial intelligence wasn’t mentioned in some way. What is interesting to me is that we’ve all collectively decided to hate the word “AI”, as it’s being thrown around left and right for no apparent reason. However, everyone in the industry does recognise its potential. During the Streaming Summit, several use cases for AI were addressed. I didn’t get to attend most of the AI track that was there on day one of the Summit, so I’m able to scratch the surface of what was talked about. With recordings of all talks becoming available shortly, I do recommend watching them as there were some interesting products and use cases shown. For example, using AI to generate different poster images for video cards, to personalise the UI experience for users with different preferences.

The main takeaway from all AI talks I’ve attended, however, is the continued need for a human element. AI can be used to speed up workflows, expand the creative process, and reduce the amount of mundane tasks that need to be done. It’s important, however, to still recognise the fact that we’re dealing with end-user-facing video, content and applications here. Tying into the ‘we must do better’ part of the consumer focus a little: let the AI work for you, but don’t let it overpower and in the end worsen the end product your end users will be using.

On a personal note

Ending with my own thoughts, after my first time attending both NAB and the Streaming Summit. I had a blast! I think it is a must for anyone involved in the industry; especially with recordings of the talks coming up for free soon, I can only recommend listening/watching some of them as they provide a lot more (and especially a deeper level of) insights than I have been able to in this blog.

A lot of the talks focused more on the business and strategy side of things, which I find very interesting. On the other hand, though, I am a techy. So it’ll be interesting to figure out how I can apply the business and strategic learnings from a technical perspective. Tech is after all what is driving how the apps we build are running. That’s ultimately one of the things I noticed the most during both the Summit and NAB in general. We’re all talking, launching and showcasing products ready to make your OTT apps and services better than ever. But no one is really talking about the complexity of integrating it all into one seamless experience. Whether we’re talking about a video player, certain backend or AI functionality, or different advertising workflows. It’s all integration work that needs to be done, in all of the fragmented frontends out there. So if I can leave you with one recommendation — finding an experienced integrator is key to success, especially in such a fast-moving space as the video industry.

Lastly, and this is also what Dan ended the conference with — It’s been a rough year for many in the industry. Many of us are out of a job, and struggling to find a new one. So if you’re reading this and you’re either looking for a new job or have some open positions available, let the world know! We’re all happy to help you find new career advancements, and possibly also know the perfect person for the job openings you might have.

As always, very much appreciate you reading my blogs! If you have any feedback or comments, feel free to reach me either via LinkedIn or drop me an email. Thank you!

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