“Over the Top” (OTT) is a media streaming service that delivers content via the Internet. It does away with traditional media distribution channelsб such as television and traditional telephone networks. Instead, viewers directly access content from the provider.

Before OTT came to be, users were required to subscribe to a cable, satellite, or pay-TV provider to watch feature films and TV shows. And they had to pay for enormous phone bills, especially for international phone calls and text messages.

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OTT streaming has gained popularity over time. But what is it, exactly? How does it differ from video streaming? How does it get delivered? We’ll answer these questions and more below.

How Do Video and OTT Streaming Differ?

Video streaming simply makes content available across devices, including smart TVs, mobile devices, computers, and OTT devices. Think YouTube. Anyone with an account can access and watch available videos (i.e., not premium content).

OTT streaming, meanwhile, uses a direct-to-consumer video content platform that makes premium content available to subscribers. Examples of OTT providers are Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu. Like video streaming content, OTT content can also be viewed on pretty much the same devices.

On What Devices Can You Watch OTT Content?

Over the Top streaming requires high-speed Internet connection and a device that supports OTT apps. You can watch OTT content on:

  • Mobile devices: Users can download and install OTT apps on their smartphones and tablets so they can stream even while on the go.
  • PCs: Subscribers can also watch OTT content using desktop-based apps or their web browsers.
  • Connected TVs: Smart TVs or those connected to Roku, Apple TV, or Fire TV and similar devices can also be used to stream OTT content. Game consoles like PlayStation also often support OTT apps.

What Attracts Consumers to OTT Streaming?

Several reasons can be cited, including:

  • User control: Unlike traditional TV channels available via cable or satellite TV that show content based on their owners, you control what you want to watch or when to watch it via OTT streaming.
  • Ad-free content: Again unlike cable or satellite TV and even video streaming, OTT apps don’t have ads.

What Types of Content Can OTT Apps Support?

When you hear OTT streaming, you immediately think of TV shows or movies on demand. What you may not know is that Over the Top apps can also distribute other web-based content, such as:

  • Audio: Audio streaming is also possible through OTT devices. Users can listen to Internet radio stations and podcasts and access apps like Spotify.
  • Messaging: Some instant messaging services like Facebook, Google, Skype, and WeChat can be accessed through OTT devices.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platforms: Examples of these are Skype and WeChat, which users can also access vie OTT devices.

What Are the Most Popular OTT Streaming Services Today?

2022’s top 10 OTT streaming services are:

What Is an OTT Platform?

An OTT streaming provider needs an OTT platform to deliver content to subscribers. But what is it, exactly?

An OTT platform is the application that allows users to access OTT services. Examples include Dacast, IBM Cloud Video, and JW Player.

Watch this video for more information.

Over the Top streaming content providers who want the best out of their OTT platform should consider these features when making their choice:

  • Content delivery
  • Live streaming features
  • Video-on-demand (VOD) hosting capabilities
  • Video monetization
  • Video application programming interface (API)
  • Reliable security tools
  • White-label streaming
  • Global content delivery via a Video content delivery network (CDN)

Industry experts believe that the OTT market will continue to grow given the speed at which Internet access has improved and the technology’s ever-widening reach.

Key Takeaways

  • OTT refers to a media streaming service that delivers content to consumers via the Internet.
  • Users can consume OTT content via mobile devices, PCs, connected TVs, and even gaming consoles.
  • OTT streaming quickly gained mainstream adoption because it gives users full control of what they want to watch and when to do so, usually without ads.
  • Many may not know it but apart from videos, OTT streaming also supports audio, instant messaging, and VoIP apps.
  • OTT content providers need an OTT platform to deliver their content to users.

Other interesting terms…