Television has been a major source of entertainment and information for decades. But in recent years, the way we watch TV has changed dramatically. More and more people are cutting the cord and switching to online streaming services that offer video content over the internet. These services are known as OTT platforms, which stands for Over The Top.
What are OTT Platforms?
An OTT platform is the tool an OTT content creator uses to manage the flow of content to customers. OTT platforms aren’t the same as OTT services. An OTT service essentially refers to the streaming providers you might be familiar with in today’s entertainment world, like Amazon Prime Video, or HBO max.
OTT platforms allow content creators to distribute their video content through a free transmission system (the public internet). Users can access the content on demand, whenever they want, on any device that has an internet connection. This includes smart TVs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and gaming consoles.
Some examples of popular OTT platforms are:
- Netflix: The global leader in streaming, with over 200 million subscribers and a vast library of original and licensed content.
- Disney+: The home of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content, with over 100 million subscribers and exclusive shows like The Mandalorian and WandaVision.
- Hulu: A US-based streaming service that offers live and on-demand TV shows, movies, and original content like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Great.
- YouTube: The world’s largest video-sharing platform, with over 2 billion monthly users and a variety of content genres, from music videos to educational tutorials to vlogs.
Why are OTT Platforms Taking Over?
OTT platforms have several advantages over traditional TV providers, such as cable and satellite. Some of these are:
- Cost: OTT platforms are generally cheaper than cable or satellite subscriptions, which can cost hundreds of dollars per year. Users can also choose from different plans and packages that suit their budget and preferences.
- Convenience: OTT platforms allow users to watch what they want, when they want, and where they want. Users can also pause, rewind, fast-forward, and skip ads on most OTT platforms.
- Variety: OTT platforms offer a wide range of content genres, languages, formats, and quality options. Users can also discover new and niche content that may not be available on mainstream TV channels.
- Personalization: OTT platforms use algorithms and data to recommend content that matches the user’s interests, tastes, and behavior. Users can also create profiles, playlists, watchlists, and ratings to customize their viewing experience.
What are the Challenges for OTT Platforms?
OTT platforms are not without their challenges, however. Some of the issues they face are:
- Competition: The streaming market is becoming increasingly crowded and saturated, with new players entering the scene every year. OTT platforms have to constantly innovate and differentiate themselves from their rivals to attract and retain customers.
- Regulation: OTT platforms have to comply with different laws and regulations in different countries and regions, which may affect their content availability, pricing, taxation, licensing, and censorship policies.
- Piracy: OTT platforms have to deal with the threat of illegal downloading and streaming of their content by users who want to avoid paying for subscriptions or who live in areas where the content is not accessible.
- Quality: OTT platforms have to ensure that their content is delivered in high-quality resolution and sound, without buffering or lagging issues. This requires a lot of bandwidth and infrastructure investment, which may not be feasible or affordable in some markets.
What is the Future of OTT Platforms?
OTT platforms are here to stay and will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years. Some of the trends and opportunities that may shape the future of OTT platforms are:
- Original Content: OTT platforms will invest more in creating their own original content that showcases their brand identity and appeals to their target audience. Original content can also help them gain loyal fans and avoid licensing fees or disputes with other content owners.
- Interactive Content: OTT platforms will experiment with more interactive content that engages the user in a more immersive and participatory way. For example, Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch allowed users to choose their own adventure by making decisions that affected the outcome of the story.
- Live Content: OTT platforms will offer more live content that captures the user’s attention and creates a sense of urgency and excitement. Live content can include sports events, concerts, news updates, or social media influencers’ streams.
- Niche Content: OTT platforms will cater to more niche audiences who have specific interests or preferences that may not be served by mainstream TV channels. Niche content can include documentaries, foreign films, indie movies, or educational content.
- Global Content: OTT platforms will expand their reach and presence in different markets and regions, especially in emerging economies where internet penetration and smartphone usage are growing rapidly. Global content can include localizing existing content or producing original content that reflects the culture and language of the target market.
OTT platforms are changing the way we watch TV and consume video content. They offer us more choice, convenience, variety, and personalization than ever before. They also face many challenges and opportunities in a dynamic and competitive industry. The future of television is in the era of OTT platforms, and we can expect to see more innovation and disruption in this space.