What is OTT Streaming?

By The Zype Team on March 01, 2023

Streaming has been making a run on traditional pay-TV for some time now, and although broadcast and cable TV aren’t going away any time soon, it’s clear that viewers want streaming options, and many are opting for streaming over cable. As of April 2022, pay-TV had a net subscriber loss of 4.6 million, while household streaming additions topped 7.8 million.

Want to dive deeper into designing an OTT app? Check out our definitive guide to OTT apps.

Video on demand (VOD) was at the tip of the spear as streaming came to the fore, but now linear OTT streaming has found its place in the market as well, giving traditional broadcast and cable institutions even more to think about.

What is OTT?

OTT (over the top) platforms serve video content using the internet rather than traditional broadcast media like cable or television over the airwaves. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video, or Disney+ are over the top platforms serving up video on demand (VOD) content. Other over the top services such as Hulu + Live TV or Sling TV provide access to linear content, meaning those services stream broadcast and cable stations using the internet as the broadcast medium rather than cable or TV infrastructure.

Linear Broadcasting vs. OTT

Linear broadcasting refers to the continuous broadcasting of predetermined content on a given channel. In other words, linear broadcasting is the technical term for traditional television. Tune to any channel at any time of day, and you will catch programs already in progress. Originally, linear broadcast television was the only way to watch broadcast and cable television programs such as network shows, news, and sports programming.

OTT platforms came about first by offering VOD content – movies and shows that viewers could call up on-demand to watch when they want. Cable providers soon started offering VOD alongside linear viewing options, and as OTT technology improved, OTT platforms started to offer access to linear channels via internet streaming. Companies such as Sling TV or YouTube TV now offer monthly memberships that allow viewers to watch live TV from anywhere, on any device such as smartphones or laptops. This availability has led to the cord-cutter movement as more and more viewers opt to ditch cable altogether in favor of OTT services.

What is Live Linear Streaming?

Linear streaming is simply using OTT platforms to broadcast content ongoingly, the same way traditional linear broadcast TV does. This style of content delivery is familiar to viewers of all ages – tune in at the right time and catch a show, live news, or sporting event – but offers accessibility beyond that of cable TV. Put simply, linear streaming combines linear broadcasting with OTT, giving users the best of both worlds.

One of the best examples of the demand for this kind of streaming and accessibility is sports broadcasts. Viewers generally don’t view sporting events after the fact. Catching the game live is imperative to the experience. But get caught on a plane or out of town and in the past, you’d simply miss it. Now, sports fans can catch the game wherever they are, and OTT streaming platforms like ESPN+ and fuboTV are taking advantage of this – with some fans opting for streaming memberships instead of cable sports packages.

Digital Linear Streaming is the Future of TV

As OTT streaming continues to gain traction in the market, viewers will continue to expect access to both VOD and linear streaming contact wherever they are, with any device they have. Smart content creators and channel owners know that digital streaming is the future, so now is the time to position yourself with a robust streaming solution. Find out how you can reach audiences where they’re watching with Zype Playout.



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