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: OTT platforms typically offer streaming services, allowing users to access content on-demand. This is different from traditional broadcast or cable television, where viewers must watch programming at scheduled times or use a recording device.
Subscription models: Many OTT services operate on a subscription basis, where users pay a monthly or yearly fee to access the content library. Some platforms offer ad-supported content for free or at a lower cost.
Original content: OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu have started producing their own original content in addition to offering licensed content from other providers. This has led to a surge in high-quality television shows and movies exclusive to these platforms.
Global reach: OTT services often have a wider geographical reach compared to traditional television platforms, as they are not restricted by regional broadcasting limitations. This has allowed for the growth of international content and an increase in cultural exchange through entertainment.
Personalization: OTT platforms use data analytics and algorithms to provide personalized content recommendations based on users’ viewing history and preferences. This enhances the user experience and encourages content discovery.