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What Is OTT? (Over The Top Explained)

What Is A OTT?

Over The Top or OTT services allow content owners to manage streaming content across multiple devices over the internet. OTT has created the ability to watch preloaded TV episodes or any OTT content for an unlimited amount. OTT lets you watch TV episodes online without needing a traditional TV provider.

In this article, we will discuss what OTT is, how it works, the types of content featured on OTT, and more. 

Quick Summary

  • OTT services are media providers that offer live or on-demand video or audio across several devices.
  • OTT service works by a user choosing content to watch, the video being encoded, transferred into the best format for the user’s device, then allowing the user to playback the content.
  • OTT can benefit streaming services by giving them to provide ad-free content, having complete control, providing original content, and providing users with an affordable service.

What Is OTT Streaming Services?

Over-the-top or OTT streaming services are media or content providers that offer live or on-demand video streaming media services across several devices and platforms.


Unlike traditional broadcasting, OTT platforms allow users to choose what to watch and when. Users can download TV shows or movies and watch them at any time.

Netflix, Hulu, Disney +, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime are famous OTT platform options on the internet [1].

How Does OTT Service Work?

Anytime a user wants to watch a piece of content on your OTT service, each video has an entire process to go through before it can be played on the user’s device.

Here are the steps involved with an OTT platform:

  1. The OTT platform uploads a new piece of content through its platform CMS; then, the video will be encoded. 
  2. After the video is encoded, a user can request to watch it.
  3. Once a user requests to watch a video, the content will be transferred into the best video format for the user’s device.
  4. The software then authenticates the user before it finishes preparing the content for delivery.
  5. If the user’s device passes authentication, the content is transferred over the internet to the user’s device.
  6. The user receives the content and starts playback.

How Is Content Delivered?

Due to OTT media services being available on several device types, delivery isn’t easy. One of OTT content’s most significant challenges is adapting to various mobile OTT devices and network performances that can affect video streaming.

Mobile Phones

This means that an OTT platform has to adjust data streams to multiple network speeds and devices to ensure buffering doesn’t occur on personal computers and mobile devices.

An OTT platform does this through adaptive bitrate streaming, meaning the OTT technology quality will scale with the user’s internet speed and devices to ensure smooth, uninterrupted service.

Types Of Content That Work With OTT Technology

OTT services can support a wide variety of media types, including: 

1. Video


Video is the most commonly offered OTT platform media. There are two types of video on over-the-top platforms: 

  • Video on Demand: Most OTT platform options allow web browsers and viewers to access pre-recorded videos and stream them whenever they want.  
  • Live Video: Some OTT platforms feature live broadcasts, such as sports events or live news. This type of content is less prominent.

2. Audio

Audio is also a part of the over-the-top market with platforms such as Spotify, podcast websites, and more. These allow users to access content libraries at any time and let them stream audio content just like video content on their mobile phones, laptops, etc.

3. Messaging

All messaging apps that require an internet connection and work by bypassing mobile SMS networks are over-the-top platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Whatsapp, etc.



Voice calling platforms that work over the internet are also part of the OTT market. Instant chat apps often offer voice calling features, such as Skype and WhatsApp. 

Creating great video content is only limited by the imagination of the creator. The challenge is to ensure you maximize the available audience for that content.
– Greg Armshaw, Head of Media, Brightcove Asia

Most Popular OTT Devices To Stream OTT Content

An end user can access OTT media from various devices. Here are the most popular options for streaming OTT video and audio [2].

  1. Mobile Phones – On average, internet users spend 38 hours monthly watching OTT videos on OTT mobile apps. However, delivering OTT content over a mobile device versus a streaming service can be difficult because you will need to build an app to allow users to access OTT services. You will need to launch an OTT app for iOS and Android, and the end user will have to download OTT apps to watch content.
  2. Desktop Computers – Computers are still the device of choice for many users to access OTT content. Having an OTT website for your video content is crucial to allow users to log into their accounts on the OTT platform and use your OTT media service whenever they want.
  3. Smart TVs – The majority of modern smart TVs are compatible with OTT apps. The biggest problem with streaming to these devices is the different TV operating systems. 65 percent of viewers consume content on TV apps, so providing OTT solutions for a smart TV is crucial to keeping an audience [3].
  4. Gaming Consoles – Gaming consoles aren’t just for gaming. They can also be OTT devices since they have internet access. They are a popular option for over-the-top streaming content. Distributing your online video and audio across consoles such as Playstation and Xbox is a great way to boost your reach.

The Benefits Of OTT Solutions For Video Publishers

Choosing an OTT service over traditional methods such as satellite TV providers, a cable TV subscription, or traditional cable television providers has many advantages.

Satellite TV

Here are a few reasons that OTT solutions can benefit a streaming provider [4]:

  • Accessibility:  Because over-the-top platforms are compatible with many devices where the user only needs the internet to use the service, users can watch over-the-top content anywhere at any time.
  • Ad-Free Content:  While traditional TV relies on ads to make money, most OTT services use a subscription-based model that allows users to enjoy the service ad-free.
  • Freedom of Choice:  Traditional TV has a specific schedule, while OTT platforms give viewers the freedom to choose what to to watch and when.
  • Excellent Value: Choosing an over-the-top streaming option gives users access to lots of content for an affordable price. The libraries typically have thousands to tens of thousands of shows and movies available for users.
  • Access To Original Content:  Large OTT platforms such as Netflix and Disney provide original content on their platforms. Using one of these platforms allows users to access these unique media formats they can’t find elsewhere.
  • Control: Using OTT ensures that you have control over your creative content and the brand, monetization, and other data. A Youtube channel doesn’t allow you to do that.
  • Direct To Consumer: If viewers have questions about what OTT stands for and how it can be helpful to them, you can educate them about what OTT is and give them a great video experience. This allows you to engage directly with your audience and gain valuable feedback.

With digital streaming being booming space, it gives creators an opportunity to experiment and create content which gets restricted in the TV or film industry.
– Deepak Segal, Head Of Content, Applause Entertainment

Why Is Over The Top Better Than YouTube?

There are several reasons that OTT is better than YouTube for content streamers, including:

  1. Control – OTT means that you completely control your content, brand, monetization, data, and user experience. YouTube doesn’t give you those options.
  2. Ad-Free Options – Viewers don’t like to be interrupted by ads. OTT has provided the ability for ad-free content options. When OTT does use ads, they provide more targeted advertising with control over your campaign, including direct sponsorships.
  3. More Customer Freedom – With OTT providers, customers are able to find exactly what they want to watch and only pay for the content they want. OTT allows you to adjust your models and open the door for niche content to thrive.

OTT service providers should make the advertising experience engaging while limiting ad loads per break.
– Deepak Dhar, Co-Founder and CEO, Banijay, Asia

What Are The Main Challenges Of OTT?

Of course, OTT isn’t perfect, and there are some challenges to look out for, including:

  • Picture quality is a challenge with heavy distribution, but premium OTT testing and monitoring can help with this.
  • Multiple video streaming services are frequently used with OTT, which can produce troubleshooting issues.
  • A good user experience is critical for OTT providers, and that can impact services.
  • Live OTT is more difficult due to having to work across multiple telecommunications networks where network performance is unreliable and need to distribute to a large number of devices.
  • Operation intelligence is a crucial factor in ensuring guaranteed HQ delivery.

How To Build An OTT Platform

If you’re looking to be among the top OTT providers and create a platform, here are some steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Choose A Popular Category – When you start building your over-the-top services, you will need to choose a popular category. One of the most trending niches today is entertainment.
  2. Choose A Unique Monetization Model – OTT platforms give the ability to monetize on-demand and live videos. On-demand content is becoming more and more common. Both live and on-demand video can be integrated with video monetization platforms such as SVOD, AVO, PVOD, etc.
  3. Create Your OTT Website – Next, create a website where users can watch OTT content, and you can embed your content. Using your own website to be an online content provider allows you room to scale up your business by building your email list, integrating payment options, engaging your audience, and offering fast customer support.
  4. Develop An OTT App – OTT apps offer streaming media and give customers the ability to view anything they want whenever they want on any device. You will have to decide the type of content you are trying to promote. For example, if your content is focused on fitness, you can offer the best practices for staying fit and other interest-related tips.
  5. Content Needs To Be Device-Friendly – It is crucial that your content delivery isn’t restricted to desktop-based apps or web browsers, or just mobile devices. Make sure your content can be easily downloaded from any device, including smart TVs, tablets, gaming consoles, and more. This will allow you to reach a larger audience simply.
  6. Build Your Brand With End To End Support – Unless you approve in-app purchases with a secured payment gateway, users won’t be able to purchase and access content with security. End-to-end support for video streaming platforms is crucial to consistently assure brand loyalty.

What Is The Future Of OTT?

The future of OTT is bright. OTT has become a part of our everyday lives, and there is a rising demand for platforms like Netflix or Hulu to take the place of the traditional TV industry.

hulu Homepage

The world has accepted OTT openly. The only question is how traditional TV can adapt.

How Can Businesses Adapt?

The easiest way for a business to adapt is to accept that OTT is becoming a part of the industry and evolving. Several traditional companies are entering the OTT industry to stay relevant.

If you are worried about the future of your business, you can build an OTT platform and enter the industry.

OTT services offer more flexibility than traditional TV, and OTT monetization is much more flexible. You have options such as subscription-based payments, pay-per-view, or ad-supported video.

Is OTT Replacing Traditional TV Options?

Yes, OTT is gradually replacing traditional TV. Cord cutting is more prevalent than ever, with 39.3 million cord-cutters in 2019 in the United States, and that number likely grows to 55 million by 2022 [5].

Cord cutting Stats

There are over 300 OTT service providers in the United States.

More and more users are beginning to consume content on their mobile devices, so increased accessibility is the key to attracting these customers. Slowly, OTT is becoming the new norm and replacing traditional TV options.


What Are OTT Apps?

OTT apps are applications for streaming live or on-demand video over the internet. OTT apps can be used across several devices and operating systems.

What Is Over The Top TV? 

Over-the-top TV is all video content streamed on a TV that uses the internet to reach the watcher. Users can watch content by bypassing traditional means.

What Are OTT Boxes?

OTT boxes are devices that use the internet to deliver video and audio content to your TV. These devices bypass traditional means such as cable.


Why Is OTT Important For My Business?

OTT is important for your business because more and more people are moving away from traditional means of watching media and going towards online consumption.

OTT is important for your business to grow revenue and move where the industry is moving to keep up with demand [6].

What Are The Main Challenges Of Launching An OTT Business?

Several challenges occur when launching an OTT business including distribution, affordability, and exclusive pricing. Distribution of OTT services can be a little more complicated considering the number of devices and networks you will need to distribute to.

What Is The Largest OTT Service Worldwide?

Netflix is the largest OTT service worldwide. It is one of the largest on-demand video platforms, with over 15,000 titles [7].

Netflix homepage

What Is The Main Difference Between Streaming And OTT?

OTT is TV and film watched via streaming services rather than traditional methods. Streaming is streaming videos from an OTT service. 

What Is A Way For Your Business To Be Successful In The OTT Industry?

To be successful in the OTT industry, you must define content strategy, sketch a distribution roadmap, discuss marketing tactics, refine video services with technology, and build core business model agility [8].

How Does OTT Make Money?

OTT makes money through SVOD, AVOD, and TVOD, which are various subscription models or where users pay per view [9].


What Are The Different Types Of OTT Services?

There are different types of OTT, including OTT TV, OTT video, OTT messaging, and OTT voice calling. TV includes Apple TV, video is Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. Messaging is the Facebook messenger and WhatsApp, and voice calling is Skype and WhatsApp.

Why Is OTT Better Than A Movie Theater?

OTT platforms are better than movie theaters because they present content at an extreme level that is accepted by their audience. OTT doesn’t have any regulating authority to censor content on online platforms.

OTT also gives users the freedom to watch what they want and when.

How Many OTT Services Are There?

There are over 300 OTT services in the United States alone and even more worldwide.

How Many OTT Services Are There?

Can I Watch OTT On My Normal TV?

Yes, you can. You can do this by using a set top box assist to stream OTT platforms on your normal TV. A regular TV doesn’t have OTT apps built in. When the box is connected to your TV it becomes compatible with OTT apps.

Is OTT Free?

Some OTT is free but most either charge a recurring subscription fee to gain unlimited access to the library of content or you can access the content on a pay per view basis.

How Much Does OTT Service Cost?

The cost of an OTT service can vary depending on the provider. Most services are fairly affordable ranging between $5 and $30 a month. This is a much cheaper option than traditional TV options, which usually run around $100 a month or more depending on the package.


OTT is a consistently growing industry as users transfer to watching video content online. For affordable prices, video or audio content can be watched or listened to online with OTT apps.

Main TV channel networks and traditional methods offer less flexibility than OTT video options for users. OTT offers digital streaming that is ad-free and direct to the customer, giving him complete control.

It gives users the ability to watch on your video platform whenever they want without restrictions and offers you feedback to consistently improve your video platform performance. Feel free to explore our comprehensive review of the best OTT platforms available


Article by

Matt Diggity

Matt is the founder of Diggity Marketing, LeadSpring, The Search Initiative, The Affiliate Lab, and the Chiang Mai SEO Conference. He actually does SEO too.

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