In recent years, television services have undergone constant evolution, ceaselessly diversifying their offerings and the formats used to access their content. The distribution of audiovisual content has moved from the hands of a few, and now forms part of a gigantic network involving more and more players. OTT (over-the-top) services have played an important role in this transformation and the ensuing proliferation of content transmission channels.

Currently OTT technology is used for Internet television and radio transmissions, as well as video calls over IP, cloud storage and instant messaging. Netflix, Skype, Whatsapp and HBO are prominent users of OTT technology.

 

What is an OTT Platform?

Over-the-top platforms and applications, or OTT platforms, are applications that offer video content over the Internet instead of via cable or satellite television (the traditional way). They allow you to instantly stream videos on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), on the web and on televisions using devices such as Chromecast, AppleTV and Amazon Fire TV, or simply using a newer generation SmartTV.

 

It doesn’t matter what role you play — broadcaster, independent producer, or multimedia brand — clear, well-defined content, audience, and marketing strategies are critical to the success of every OTT video business. These strategies should drive the roadmap for a video business’ growth. Knowing your audience and offering them the quality content they will embrace is critical.

 

The Pros and Cons of OTT

The rapid growth of subscribers of OTT platform services has been made possible thanks to technological advances, but also to the advantages it has over Pay TV. Nonetheless, there are some factors that cannot be controlled by the former and these contribute to the overall development of the OTT platform service.

Advantages

– Users can access the content whenever and wherever they want, with the latter leading to the viewing of consecutive episodes of series, even watching full seasons continuously, a phenomenon called “binge watching”. This new way of viewing content means that a user does not have to wait a week or more to see a new episode of their favorite series, but instead can watch choice episodes continuously. This represents a significant advantage over linear TV because the users are not obliged to adapt their schedule to the broadcast lineup. On the contrary, consumers can choose the time they want to watch content. Furthermore, they don’t even need a television set; any Internet-enabled device (laptops, tablets, and smartphones, for example) can be used to watch OTT content.

– Production of in-house content. One OTT platform that has differentiated itself is Netflix, with popular series such as “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” and HBO with “The Game of Thrones.” These operators have also fostered the phenomenon of “binge watching” with the release of  a complete seasons of their own in-house produced series on a single date.

– Price is also an advantage: a subscription to an OTT platform costs significantly less than a pay-TV operator.

 

Disadvantages of OTT

– OTT services specialize in content such as movies, documentaries, and series. For the time being, they have not specialized in highly-valued live content such as football matches or other sporting events or award shows like the Grammys and the Oscars.

– There is no guarantee for quality of service because the quality will  depend largely on the Internet service that is provided by a third party. This service, in turn, depends on factors such as latency, the speed contracted by the user, the level of congestion in the Internet provider’s network, the level of concurrency of users who want to access the same content, and the network distance between the requested content and the user. These kind of factors could render the technical parameters of the Internet insufficient.

– The potential demand for OTT services will necessarily depend on the Internet penetration and the availability of devices that enable Internet access within each country. Consequently, in those countries where there is limited Internet penetration and / or a constrained supply of Internet-enabled devices, the potential demand for OTT services will also be limited.