In its broadest sense, this acronym refers to any data transmitted over the Internet that would have, in the past, required the use of conventional networks– such as terrestrial broadcasting or telephone operator voice services.
Thanks to the internet, these networks, which are usually controlled by a small group of big players, can be bypassed completely. Instead of calling through an operator’s network, we can use VoIP telephony or Skype, and instead of terrestrial TV broadcasting, we can use IPTV, YouTube, Netflix, or any one of countless other alternatives.
Most often, however, the term is used loosely to refer to a narrower subset of OTT – streaming video content. However, even this streaming can take a variety of forms. Apart from free services such as YouTube (which competes rather indirectly with conventional TV), these are mainly VOD (Video on Demand) services, and most often SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand).
In addition to SVOD , there are other, albeit less used, models – e.g., TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand – the customer pays individually for each film, series, or show separately, for example, Google Play, iTunes) and AVOD (Advertising Video on Demand – a free VOD model supported by advertising, e.g., Crackle or Sling). The next segment contains services that provide VOD content for free – for example, Red Bull with its Red Bull TV.
OTT video content can be watched on a wide variety of devices, depending on which device the service supports. These include:
- Streaming box or stick (e.g., Google Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku Streaming Stick)
- Smart TVs (most TVs sold today have Smart TV capabilities)
- Game consoles (e.g., PlayStation, Xbox)
- Some set-top boxes and DVRs
- Some Blu-ray players