Have you ever streamed a movie from Netflix or Hulu before? Or have you paid a platform to access their premium content?
If so, then you have already experienced over-the-top (OTT) content. But if you’re only hearing the term OTT for the first time, then you’re not alone.
Most people are not familiar with the meaning of OTT, but almost everyone has consumed this type of content at some point in their lives. So what does it mean?
To help you understand the definition of OTT, this guide will discuss what OTT is, different OTT platforms, and how you can get started to create your own OTT content.
Ready? Let’s fly!
OTT Meaning: What Does OTT Actually Mean?
Before we discuss the definition of OTT, let’s first dive into how content was delivered over the past years.
Since the mid-1990s, media content, specifically video content, has been commonly distributed by TV and cable service providers through Internet Protocol (IPTV). Viewers must have a contract with the service providers, a television subscription, and a cable box to get reception.
In addition, consumers need a technician to set up their devices and connect to a high-speed internet connection to receive content through private MPEG transport stream networks.
Because of how content is distributed, consumers are locked to one service provider, limiting the content they receive depending on the current area and region.
This is where OTT comes in.
Sometimes called premium content or streaming TV, over-the-top (OTT) refers to the distribution of paid content over the internet that bypasses traditional media channels such as television companies, cable TV broadcasters, and media distributors.
These platforms essentially provide a simple and exclusive way to enjoy different content using the internet.
As the name implies, OTT sits on top of the media distribution system, allowing OTT service providers to distribute directly to the consumers without the help of any middle man. This will enable consumers to access content by paying a minimal subscription fee.
Many OTT platforms use a subscription model to monetize their OTT services.
OTT content comes in a different genre, offering many choices for consumers to choose from. These include movies, series, TV shows, albums, reality shows, exclusive premium content, live TV, podcasts, etc.
Video is one of the most popular OTT content, but there are many other types you can enjoy.
Types of OTT Content
OTT content refers to different things since OTT providers offer different types of content over the internet. While this type of content often comes in video form, OTT can come in many forms, including:
- Audio apps: This OTT content refers to music streaming platforms like SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music Unlimited, etc. OTT audio apps can include different media types such as music, podcasts, radio stations, and audiobooks.
- Messaging platforms: OTT services are also offered on messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Line, WeChat, WhatsApp, etc. These services bypass the traditional SMS technology, communicating using mobile devices.
- Television: Any content delivered through smart TVs and TV apps like Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire Stick. You can bypass the cable stations to stream TV content if you have a smart TV.
- Video content: This is the most common type of OTT content and streaming media, covering different resources, including education, entertainment, and lifestyle. Services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu that allow ad-free video streaming are considered OTT video.
- Voice services: Apps that offer VoIP services that are delivered through an internet connection, such as Skype and WhatsApp. OTT technology allows users to contact any mobile phone using the internet.
How do OTT Services Work?
OTT technology depends on several factors, including internet speed, the device being used, and how many networks are between the streaming services and the end-user.
As we’ve established, OTT works through the internet. The process is simple. Service providers upload content on an OTT platform, and the data is transmitted via Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) so viewers can access OTT content.
However, this also means that users who experience poor network performance will have difficulty accessing OTT platforms.
OTT systems may be dependent on different factors to run seamlessly. Still, these platforms are created to minimize their impact by serving content that fits their network performance and display device.
This allows video streaming to play without pauses caused by buffering, as unnecessary breaks can cause frustration for viewers and may lead them to abandon the content.
If users have slower networks, the OTT service will lower the bit rates allowing content to be streamed continuously. For faster networks, it will provide viewers with the best quality available to them.
How OTT Content is Delivered
Video streaming is one of the most popular OTT content, consumed by almost everyone. Its popularity is its all-time accessibility, allowing customers to access OTT platforms with only a device that can run various apps and browsers and a high-speed internet connection.
OTT platform can run on many devices, including:
- Mobile phone: Audio apps, video streaming apps, and messaging apps can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets. Anyone who owns this kind of device can receive OTT videos and content.
- Laptops and computers: These devices can access the internet through LAN and Wi-Fi allowing users to stream on OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other video streaming services.
- Smart TVs: Traditional cable is out, and OTT media platforms are in. If you have a smart TV, you can access different OTT media by connecting Fire Stick or Apple TV devices.
- Gaming Consoles: Users can also access online video streaming platforms like Netflix on gaming consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox.
Basically, OTT content can be delivered on many devices that can access the internet. This isn’t just limited to gaming consoles, smart TVs, and mobile devices. If you can access platforms like Netflix, OTT content can be delivered to you.
The Advantage of OTT
OTT platforms provide different options for people to access other content on demand. Now, they don’t need to rely on TV content. They even have the ability to watch and view content on different devices they want, including smart TVs, mobile phones, and computers.
Unlike cable, where you can only access what’s available to the service provider, OTT enables you to access a variety of content distributors that offer specialized programs and view different channels by switching apps.
This gives you the ability to choose what content to watch and purchase.
Even though both OTT and traditional cable tv use the same IP technology, the latter is distributed on a private cable network, restricting users from accessing other available networks.
OTT systems are created to overcome this limitation, allowing users to receive content only when requested.
OTT platforms are becoming more popular since it gives control back to the users’ hands instead of relying on broadcasters and TV companies.
Creators can now also distribute their content efficiently, freeing themselves from restrictions and regulations imposed by television networks.
What is an OTT Platform?
An OTT platform refers to an entity or organization that produces content and delivers it through the internet. This platform type comes as an app or website, where users can view different video content, music, messaging, etc.
OTT platforms can be accessed on different internet-enabled devices. Users should subscribe to their service to view premium content.
This can be a pay-per-view or unlimited access to their platform. The benefits often come free of ads, but some creators monetize their content through sponsored advertisements.
YouTube vs. OTT Platforms
YouTube may seem like an OTT platform, but it’s not. It is a social media video platform initially designed to allow users to share videos they caught on camera.
While YouTube attempted to be an OTT video platform numerous times, it didn’t flourish as how other OTT video platforms did. For users, YouTube will always be a place for free content.
Video On Demand Vs. OTT
OTT and video on demand are very similar and may seem interchangeable. However, OTT refers to how content is delivered through the internet, while video-on-demand deals with how users can access the content.
Any video you access on the internet–whether through a single purchase, by watching an ad, or by subscribing to a service– is called video on demand.
Use OTT Software and Build Your Own Platform
Businesses and content creators worldwide are now turning to use all-in-one OTT software to help monetize their videos and make money from doing what they love.
Here are my top choices for the best OTT software to get started today:
Uscreen takes out the number one spot because of its easy-to-use distribution platform and is the industry leader.
They saw the gap in the market and have delivered on all the pain points to make it much more simplified to pick your video monetization strategy, customize your theme to suit your brand, promote it, and start collecting checks.
- Smooth and secure PPV (pay-per-view) live streaming with a real-time chat box to keep your audience engaged.
- Offer OTT in-app purchases and check how your customers behave to track any royalty or payouts to affiliates.
- HTML5 online video player makes it the fastest video playback in full HD on any device.
- Upload and organize content to Uscreen’s CMS. Their ‘continue where you left off’ feature is great for when you lose connection or accidentally click off the page.
Paying annually will save you around 20%, with prices starting from $79 per month for the basic plan. You get 50 hours of video storage and a one-on-one onboarding session to set you up.
Take advantage of Uscreen’s 14-day free trial today.
Muvi is a great OTT platform with highly customizable and instantly deployable end-to-end streaming service. No coding or anyone managing your IT team.
Using Muvi One, you can create your own video and audio streaming platform just like Netflix and Spotify.
- Built-in infrastructure – 24/7 support with cloud hosting.
- Feature-rich – BYOA (Bring Your Own Ad Server), Built-in DRM, and multi DRM for live streaming and security.
- Monetization – including coupons and promotions along with all of your favorites, PPV (Pay per view) / TVOD, and SVOD (subscriptions).
- Range of uses – including platforms for audio, digital, eLearning, and streaming for gaming, video, and lives.
While the basic plan starts at $399/mo with comes with all the features you need to create a killer website with fully customizable templates, including colors, storage, hosting, security, the works.
A significant advantage of using Muvi is that there are no lock-in contracts, so you can cancel at any time. All plans include unlimited content, subscribers, and views with no setup fee.
Give Muvi a try now with a 14-day free trial.
OTT may be a new term for you, but this type of distribution has been around for years. More prominent companies like Netflix are not the only ones utilizing OTT, but many content creators are now seeing the potential of this channel.
In the future, we will be seeing more OTT content available to everyone, not only video streaming but almost all kinds of content you can think of. Many content creators will also start embracing this way of distributing content, giving the control back to the users to choose the content they want to consume.
It’s time to be the pilot of your life, not just the passenger.
Chris Bournelis is a blogger and part-time web developer. He has been working in online business since 2015. Join him here at ChrisBournelis.com for the best SaaS reviews and tips to get the most out of your online business.