What is an OTT platform, and why are these tools gaining so much attention in the modern world? OTT platforms are a solution designed for the modern content creator or “streamer”. They’re quickly becoming one of the most essential tools in the digital landscape for a range of reasons.
“Streaming” is a form of live video sharing wherein content creators share their videos in real-time with a selection of fans. The term can also refer to the art of delivering pre-recorded content like movies and television programs to customers on an on-demand basis, often over the internet.
According to current statistics, the streaming market is set to reach a value of $330.51 billion by 2030. What’s more, by the end of 2022, 55.1% of US consumers are expected to “cut the cord” associated with cable TV to switch to streaming platforms entirely.
Today, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about the OTT streaming landscape, what OTT platforms can do, and what some of the biggest providers offer.
Defining “OTT”: Over-The-Top Video
To understand OTT platforms, we first need a definition of the term “OTT”. This initialism stands for “Over the Top”. It’s a mode of providing content over the top of an internet stream, without a third-party operator controlling or managing the content.
Although the term “OTT” streaming is most commonly leveraged in the video landscape, OTT platforms can support a range of different kinds of content, including voice, messaging, and audio.
Perhaps the most common example of OTT video comes from the age of streaming television. OTT television provides like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and many others, leverage a video delivery method allowing anyone with an internet-connected device to access content over the internet. These solutions can work with smart televisions, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, as well as games consoles.
All a user needs to access a content stream is a membership or subscription to the service, and an internet connection. OTT streaming is useful because it bypasses the traditional gatekeepers of cable, broadcast, and satellite connectivity. It’s essentially a more streamlined approach to delivering video anytime, anywhere, for a host of customers.
How Does OTT Streaming Work?
If you’ve used a service like Twitch or Netflix before, you’re probably already familiar with the basics of OTT streaming. The process allows OTT service providers to distribute content through a free transmission system (the public internet). Notably, content is delivered “upon request”, when a user clicks on a video through an app or on a device.
OTT streaming also leverages unicast or “one-to-one” transmission methods. This simply means every end-user device has a specific connection to the content source. One stream is delivered to each recipient individually every time. This allows content creators to track the distribution of their content using their OTT platform technology.
The purpose of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the OTT streaming journey is to simply provide the infrastructure for the delivery of content. Unlike in other video management systems, the ISP doesn’t control anything about the video service delivery, content copyrights, or viewing.
Overall, OTT streaming is generally considered to be extremely flexible and versatile. However, it does have some limitations. For instance, it can be complicated to adjust to a wide range of networks and devices to serve content via the internet.
The performance of an OTT stream will also depend on a number of factors, including the available bandwidth, the internet connection speed of the user, and the functionality of the end-user display device. This could mean that audio and image quality is affected whenever the OTT application adjusts to network performance.
One of the methods some OTT services and platforms are using to mitigate issues with network connections is to allow users to adjust the stream quality. For instance, you might reduce the resolution to accommodate a device with less bandwidth.
What is an OTT Platform?
An OTT platform is the tool an OTT content creator uses to manage the flow of content to customers. OTT platforms aren’t the same as OTT services.
An OTT service essentially refers to the streaming providers you might be familiar with in today’s entertainment world, like Amazon Prime Video, or HBO max. An OTT platform is the technology modern companies and creators use to distribute content to different services, accept payments from customers around the world, and set up recurring subscriptions.
OTT platforms can allow users to set up their own websites where they can showcase their videos, or connect with customers. They come with fast start-up times, regular software updates and maintenance tools, and extensive content and data protection.
OTT platforms also provide content management platforms where you can organize your videos, and video players you can usually embed on your site, to deliver content to all devices. Some solutions also offer a range of additional features, such as:
- Multiple monetization options: Such as pay-per-view, lifetime access, subscriptions, and free trials for beginners.
- Various streaming methods: Including on-demand and live streaming
- Community building tools: Such as live chat, likes and comments, and profile building
- Content regulation options: Like tools for determining how many times a video can be streamed, or who can access the content.
- Integrations: Connections with various video technologies like Roku, Chromecast, and more.
The Advantages of OTT Platforms
Like any content creation solution, OTT video streaming has both positives and negatives to consider. Companies or content creation platforms leveraging OTT technology can benefit from the ability to stream and manage various kinds of content, monetize their creations in various ways, and even build communities with their tools. However, some solutions can take quite some time to get used to, with larger learning curves, and may be expensive in some cases.
The biggest benefits of OTT solutions for consumers include:
- Content variety: While common satellite, IPTV, and cable content providers are limited in their catalogs and content bundles, OTT services can provide access to a huge range of licensed and original content options.
- Affordability: Subscribing to an OTT stream is usually a lot less expensive than paying for traditional television viewing methods. Many modern consumers are already moving away from traditional streaming methods to combine various OTT solutions instead.
- Greater freedom: Consumers have complete control over which content they view, when they watch it, and more. They can even pause, rewind, and fast-forward the content they watch, and choose from a range of devices to access videos on.
The biggest benefits of OTT solutions for content creators include:
- Multiple monetization options: There are various ways to monetize your content with OTT platforms. You can create a subscription-based or transaction-based model, an ad-based model, or even offer one-off payments. There’s also the option to implement extra fees for additional features, like the ability to access some premium content ahead of schedule.
- Simple content delivery: Because the video is delivered via an open network, there’s often less restrictions on what you can publish and promote. What’s more, because all users need is an internet connection, it’s much easier to reach a wider audience.
- Community building: Most OTT platforms come with tools to help you connect with viewers in a range of different ways, such as comment sections and tools for liking or sharing emojis on videos. You can also set up different types of memberships for different customers, allowing you to charge various rates.
- Data insights: OTT platforms make it easy to track valuable information about your target audience, including when they’re most likely to access your videos, which content they view the most, and even where your customers come from. This can help content creators to improve their presence rapidly online.
How to Choose an OTT Platform
As streaming services, smart TVs, and video on demand grow more popular, countless creators are beginning to take advantage of OTT platforms. However, choosing the right platform can be easier said than done. Not only do you need to ensure you can integrate with the right services like Apple TV, fire TV and Roku, but you also need to research the feature set carefully.
When looking at OTT providers, as yourself whether you can unlock various types of VOD, like AVOD and SVOD for monetization, and deliver great content on multiple mobile devices. Other points to consider when building your video streaming services include:
- Reliability and scalability with an excellent CDN (Content Delivery Network)
- An easy-to-use and centralized content management system
- High quality hosting capabilities
- Video players with multiple formats
- Live TV streaming tools
- Content protection and digital rights management (DRM)
- Easy-to-use OTT app for content management
- In-depth analytics and insights
- Customization options for your user experience
- Custom SDKs and APIs
- Multi device streaming options to compete with traditional cable
- Encoding for privacy purposes
Finding the Best OTT Platforms
The ideal OTT platform for you will depend on what kind of content you want to create and deliver, from TVOD to live video options. Some of the top options on the market include:
Uscreen is one of the most popular OTT media services on the market. It supports everything from on demand video, to live streaming across the globe. Uscreen is easy to use and convenient, with a host of tools to empower companies to get their content to every mobile phone and smart TV. Some of the features offered include:
- Multi-screen streaming content to connect with customers anywhere
- Various video monetization options like subscriptions, rentals, and bundles
- Content management solutions to organize your TV service
- HTML5 video player for streaming media anywhere
- Customization and website builder templates to showcase your TV shows
- Community building tools for connecting with customers.
Another well-known solution in the OTT market, Muvi helps creators to distribute all kinds of streaming services without the need for coding. As an added bonus, Muvi also allows you to create audio streams, so you can showcase podcasts too. Muvi is a flexible and easy-to-use solution for today’s companies hoping to create their own TV content, features include:
- Live streaming for both video and audio content
- Custom settings for delivering content to your audience anywhere
- Native apps suitable for use across multiple devices
- Rule-setting for content to determine who can watch your videos at any time
- Multiple monetization options for podcasts and videos
If you’re familiar with video streaming online, you’re probably well aware of the Vimeo ecosystem. Vimeo is one of the most popular video solutions, with a host of easy-to-use features to help get you started as a content creator. It’s ideal for small and large brands alike, and offers access to multiple SDKs and APIs too. Features include:
- Video website themes for advertising your brand
- Excellent insights and analytics
- Tons of ways to build online communities with your audience
- Auto archiving for your live streamed content
- Branded apps compatible across all devices
Exploring the OTT Streaming Industry
Ultimately, demand for a video streaming platform capable of delivering content over a range of channels and platforms will only increase going forward. The right OTT solutions put the control of video content in the hands of broadcasters and viewers, for more flexible entertainment.
As interest in online video continues to increase, we’re likely to see a wider range of OTT platforms emerging, helping content creators to deliver content over android, iOS and a multitude of other platforms. The key to success with OTT platforms is learning how to deliver your content in a way that facilitates quick and simple monetization.
It’s also important to think carefully about how your consumers typically consume content, so you can reach them where they spend the most time. Good luck taking advantage of the OTT revolution.