What are the Top 9 Features to Look for in an OTT Platform?

By Chris Bassolino on June 23, 2017

When you want to get your content on streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV, you know you have a daunting task ahead of you. With a plethora of OTT options available, your first step is deciding on a platform to build out your OTT service.

It’s important to pick a platform that aligns with your business goals and resources because this is going to be your foundation for everything: uploading, transcoding, content management, VOD and/or live streaming, monetization, couponing, analytics, digital rights management and distribution.

When evaluating different platforms, there are a couple of key points you should carefully consider as you navigate the tricky waters of OTT platforms. Your decision should be based on the following areas and what you want to get out of them for your video business.


1. Revenue Ownership

There are two pricing models that exist depending on which platforms you’re evaluating. The first is revenue share, which allows you to get started with no upfront capital investment will continue to take a significant portion of revenue as you grow. Revenue share platforms also have other restrictions and provide less control, so pay careful attention to any terms of service for the OTT options you’re considering. The second option is a platform purchase with a software licensing model. Here, you pay a recurring fee for your ongoing use of the technology. The benefit is that all the revenue you earn from your business goes directly to you and your costs don’t change according to your business’ revenue growth. This allows for complete revenue ownership and the flexibility to make business decisions around your content.

Questions to Ask: What’s the platform’s pricing model? How would I receive payments from subscribers and content transactions? Who owns the IP?


How do you plan to monetize your content? It goes without saying that your OTT platform will need to support whatever monetization method you choose. For instance, if you plan to run ad-supported VOD in complex setups for ad bundles, you’ll want a quality SSP solution like Google, Fybr or SpotX to help with those fills. Don’t forget to confirm that your potential provider can support advanced configurations and ad insertion points. In fact, you should consider a platform that supports multiple monetization methods — SVOD, TVOD and AVOD — so that you can ensure flexibility within the platform as your own business grows and adapts.

Questions to Ask: Which monetization models are supported on your platform? How complex can our ad setup be? Can I pre-sell TVOD or SVOD ahead of their live dates? Can I do AVOD, TVOD and SVOD at the same time? What fees are associated with setup?


The resources needed to manage content and build out a solution can be significant. Make sure to take into account your current resources available to manage an OTT solution, along with any technical requirements to get to market. You’ll likely want a platform that is intuitive, dynamic and simple to use.

Questions to ask: How sophisticated does your platform’s end user need to be? How long does it take to get up and running within your platform, including video import and time to go live? How many team members do I need? Are you a self-service or full-service team?


Analytics are the lifeblood of your video business, so it goes without saying that understanding your video analytics is crucial for future content decisions. Look for a platform that gives you insight into multiple areas including content performance (most watched, most requested, etc.), monetization (total revenue, new subscribers, total subscribers, new and total transactions), and comprehensive video analytics (average play, total plays, stream hours for live and VOD, viewer demographics, device information, etc.). For example, if you are seeing a high rate of Roku plays but the starting point is Xbox, you want to know that information as it gives a lot of insight into your audience.

Questions to Ask: Which analytics do you offer and how often are they updated? How granular can I get? Can I export the data? Can you give me trending info on my users and the content entry points by user?


If your content changes frequently or you have a consistent publishing schedule, look for a platform that enables you to set publishing activation and deactivation times for content. Automating this aspect will remove the need to manually monitor and curate content.

Questions to Ask: Is it possible to schedule content publication? How can I structure playlist and automate video ingestion? What dynamic features do you offer around publishing?


6. Access Rules

Content access rules can restrict the display of content based on geography and device across your entire library, or just for specific videos. You may have content licensing rules or want to plan a coordinated rollout into different markets or devices. As such, it will be important for you to select an OTT platform which can provide flexibility in terms of access rules.

Questions to Ask: Can I limit access to my content by geography and device? What options do I have around pre-selling my content ahead of time and allowing those partners to benefit from that on my OTT platforms?


7. Custom Metadata

The extent to which your platform provider lets you create custom metadata — allowing you to go beyond simple title and description — can open up new video SEO and content management opportunities. Custom metadata can amplify your marketing and promotion efforts to increase discovery, as well as give you the ability to organize and present your content in ways that are unique to your business and appreciated by your audience.


It’s a tremendous undertaking to take on custom development across all the disparate devices you’ll want to reach. Look for a platform or partner that has ready-to-use app templates or Software Developer Kits (SDKs) that provide a solid foundation to speed up time-to-market and reduce costs. The whole OTT world is quickly moving to a feed-based setup to accommodate any environment, as a result, for the first time in a long time spending tons of money on custom and complicated OTT apps isn’t the best investment.

Questions to Ask: For which devices do you provide app templates or SDKs? What is your average build time and response time in your terms of service?


Finally, look for a platform provider that understands the OTT industry and will stay ahead of the curve as new devices enter the market or additional requirements arise. Assuming that you want your content on devices like Opera TV, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, you should be looking at platforms that concentrate on OTT rather than general video platforms that are multi-purpose and lack product focus.

Questions to Ask: What’s your product roadmap? How often do you release new features and platform updates? What are your common customer profiles? What type of customer gets the most out of your platform?

Going OTT is a major decision; however, it’s almost always a good one. This series is meant to help you weed out the lackluster choices, and make sure that you end up with the best OTT platform to meet your needs. Think that Zype can help? Request a demo today!

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