What is OTT?

Chris Green

Chris Green About The Author

Aug 11, 2020 10:45:00 AM

What is OTT?

OTT, also known as over-the-top television, is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet. Basically, what OTT does is bypass the companies that traditionally act as a distributor of media content, such as cable, broadcasting, or satellite pay-TV services. Even though video and OTT seem to be viewed interchangeably, OTT is just a different channel where videos and ads are delivered to their viewers.

With the introduction of OTT, this medium has not only led us to shift our mindset to our need-it-now mentality, but it has broadened our cultural reach and provided us with a new viewing experience. No wonder that in the United States alone, there are around 180 million OTT users. Still not sure what OTT is all about, let us help you understand further:

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With streaming services now becoming more mainstream, the terms “OTT” and “CTV” (as defined below) have become more popular. Unfortunately, people also tend to use them interchangeably, but can be extremely confusing when we need to be specific. For example:

  •         “When you say ‘OTT’, did you mean Smart TVs or do you also mean mobile and tablet?” 
  •         “Will that also include AppleTV and Chromecast?” 

Here are the easiest ways to remember when discussing business:

  1. Use CTV when you are talking about Smart TVs and streaming devices that are attached to TVs. Mobile and desktop devices are not included under the term CTV.
  2. Use OTT when it doesn’t matter which devices are included. For example, if you want to talk about “OTT services” (like Hulu or Sling), and delivery to a particular device doesn’t matter.  OTT does not include user-generated content.

Why is OTT Important in Today's Market?

Yes, traditional marketing and TV advertising are still quite relevant and successful. However, more and more people are using OTT media services as an extension of their marketing campaigns. As a result, the consumer has become more demanding of their content, expecting to get exactly what they want at their convenience. This behavior has led to OTT media revenue, expecting to reach $158.84 billion by 2024, more than doubling the $67.8 billion generated in 2018.

Yet, to understand why OTT has been so successful, we have first to understand this new consumer behavior, and how OTT satisfies these unique wants and demands. 


  • Higher Quality Viewing: In today's media culture, consumers want media services instantly, but on their time. They want to be able to turn on what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. Consumers are now quick to abandon a product or service when the quality is not up to par with their expectations. With all the possible options out there if a product or service is not unique to their specific tastes, they can quickly move on to the next best thing. 
  • Lower Costs: Cord cutters can get thousands of hours of content for less than $50 per month — In some cases, viewers could save money if they’re willing to watch ads or make their content available on fewer screens. This doesn’t mean giving up broadcast TV as many streaming services bundles include your local stations; or HD Antennas will allow full access to your favorite broadcast TV newscasts or programs.
  • Tailored Experience: Consumers like when their content and ads are tailored specifically to them and the products and services that they actually need. And OTT makes this happen by delivering relevant content that the consumer actually has an interest in. That is why OTT works so great, with the strategically inserted ads, OTT is able to reach a large market audience without turning them off in the process. 
  • Fewer Interruptions: OTT media services are seen as less interruptive to the user's experience than other media methods, and in return, the consumer can be more receptive to it. So much so, in 2019, OTT users in the United States spent 17.5 hours with these services per week.  

How it Can Help Your Business 

OTT is not the future; it is the present. In fact, it is projected that 50% of homes in the United States connected to the internet, use OTT video apps, which leads experts to believe that this usage will result in a $120 billion industry by 2022. As a result, OTT will play a significant part in your business, especially if you want to reach a substantial number of potential consumers.  Here’s how OTT can impact your business:

  • OTT creates more touch points with consumers which allows for additional enriching experiences which can help create more customers.
  • OTT provides you with opportunities to reach more people, meaning more opportunities to reach your target audience. Better yet, the audience that you do reach is more likely to take action on your specific campaign at the local level because of the precise ad-targeting capabilities of OTT. 
  • OTT provides your consumer with the ability to take action on your ads that much easier. And because you are delivering relevant content directly to the consumer that wants it, it allows you to engage with individuals who most likely need your service or product rather than wasting time on an audience that does not. 

Embracing OTT Can Lead to Big Results

As people become more comfortable with OTT platforms, weekly OTT app usage continues to grow (two to three hours per year), with no slowing down in sight. This OTT usage provides its viewers the accessibility and control of what they want to watch, where they want to watch, and when they want to watch it, ultimately changing & customizing overall viewership behavior.

So, now that you understand what OTT is, the next question becomes-how can your business capitalize on this critical and growing trend? Well, the most efficient way to get the results you want is through the help of a media partner who understands everything there is to know about OTT. Through their assistance, you can figure out how to streamline this OTT process and maximize the OTT benefits to work for your business. 

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Topics: Streaming & OTT