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OTT Video Service: How To Start Your Own OTT Platform
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OTT Video Service: How To Start Your Own OTT Platform

OTT Platform – Ever since streaming services like Netflix gained mainstream popularity, the term OTT or Over-The-Top) has been a major buzzword in online video streaming. Yet, what actually is OTT? What are its roles in today’s online streaming environment and the media industry in general?

Here, we will discuss all you need to know about OTT services, and how you can start your OTT channel right away.

What Is OTT?

OTT is an abbreviation for “over-the-top” and is a term used to describe the practice of streaming any content directly to customers over an internet connection. While the term is commonly used to describe video-on-demand (VOD) service, technically we can use the term OTT in various web-based content delivery, such as:

  • Audio: Streaming music and podcasts over Spotify, for example, is us consuming OTT audio content.
  • Messaging: Facebook Messenger, iMessage, and WhatsApp are examples of OTT-based messaging services.
  • VOIP, video conference: Voice calling and video conferencing solutions like Skype or Zoom are also technically OTT solutions.
  • Video: Finally, platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and even YouTube are examples of OTT video services

With the major advancements in technology and how our internet speed has increased rapidly in the past half-decade or so, OTT services are now replacing traditional distribution channels such as cable television providers or traditional OTA (over-the-air) television signals delivered over the antenna.

Also, we have to differentiate between OTT content and OTT devices.

  • OTT content: content that is published by an OTT content provider like YouTube or Netflix. A key characteristic of OTT content is that it can be viewed on multiple devices simultaneously.
  • OTT devices: all devices that can stream/playback/playback OTT content, but normally it refers to any device that is not a desktop/laptop or mobile devices (smartphone, tablet) like Apple TV, Smart TVs, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and so on.

So, when you hear the term ‘OTT’, you might want to check further whether they are actually talking about OTT services like Netflix or OTT devices like Roku. It’s very important to really understand the context.

The Benefits of OTT Videos

OTT videos have grown in popularity in the past few years, and are still rapidly growing. Here are some important benefits of OTT format and why it’s preferred by so many people:

  • Cost: especially when compared to cable TV and satellite TV subscriptions, OTT streaming services like Netflix or Sling TV is much cheaper and can cost only below $10/month.
  • Versatility: we are not tied to linear TV broadcasting schedules and can view the content we want to consume anytime we want (on-demand). Also, we can watch OTT content from devices other than our TVs like our smartphone or tablet.
  • Content: OTT providers like Netflix and Disney+ offer their own original content that is not available anywhere else, and they also have exclusive streaming licenses for popular TV shows like Friends or Big Bang Theory.

Starting Your OTT Platform

With all those benefits and popularity of OTT platforms, can we start our own OTT platform as a business or just to broadcast our content? The answer is yes, and starting your own OTT platform in 2020 is actually pretty simple, and you can do it by following these steps:

Step 1: Choosing a business model

There are three main types of OTT models you can choose from (assuming you are going to monetize your content): TVOD, AVOD, and SVOD

  • TVOD: or Transactional Video on Demand, meaning you are going to charge users on a pay-per-view basis. As a user, you pay to watch each video you are going to watch.
  • AVOD: Ad-supported Video on Demand. You are showing your video content for free, but your viewers will view ads from time to time. YouTube is one of the most famous AVOD platforms.
  • SVOD: Subscription-Based Video on Demand. Your viewers can access your whole library of content for a recurring fee, you can charge the fee annually, monthly, or even daily. Netflix is an example of an SVOD platform.

Step 2: Select a video hosting platform

You’d need to choose a platform to host your video, which will then distribute your on-demand and/or live-streamed OTT video content to your viewers.
A reliable video hosting platform should provide a content management system (CMS) to easily manage your video content and also allow you to manage viewers’ payment.

Viloud is an example of a reliable video hosting and live streaming platform where you can stream both on-demand and live-streamed OTT video content on many different platforms at once, whether streaming on your website, app, or on Facebook and YouTube.

Step 3: Design how your audience can access your platform

A typical way for people to access OTT content is via OTT apps, so you might want to design your own OTT content app for mobile phones/tablets, smart TVs (like Roku Channel), and console devices (PlayStation and Xbox). Also, make sure your website is working properly.

Make sure your video content is properly optimized for mobile devices since it’s now the norm for people to stream on their phone or tablet. Figure out your target audience, and find out the ideal ways to reach them.

Step 4: Create or get content

Obviously your video content is very important if you want your OTT platform to achieve success. You can either create your own original content or purchase ready-to-publish content from other creators or broadcasters. An important consideration here is to pick a niche and focus on it so you can attract a specific target audience.

End Words

Starting your own OTT platform has two important benefits. First, is that you can gather a lot of insights about your target audience. When a viewer creates an account, you can gather information such as their email address, gender, age, and other demographics data. If, for example, you stream your content via YouTube, you won’t get this benefit. The second, is you have control over your monetization and in content distribution (i.e. you won’t have to deal with censorship).

If you want to start your own OTT platform, an important consideration is to pick a reliable video hosting/distribution solution like Viloud that provides easy ways to manage your content and also to control your monetization.

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