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Over-the-top media service

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Over-the-top (OTT) media service refers to a media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet, typically provided by third-parties without the involvement or control by an Internet service provider (ISP).[1] The term is most synonymous with subscription-based video on demand (SVoD)[2] services (known as "streaming platforms") that offer access to film and television content, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.[3][4][5][6]

OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms—the media through which companies have traditionally acted as controllers or distributors of such content. This content may include shows and movies for which the OTT acquired rights from the content owner. Programming may also (or alternatively) include original content produced by the service or specifically for it.[7][8] OTT services also include a range of "skinny" television offerings by streaming platforms, such as Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV, that provide live streams of specialty channels.[9][10][11]

OTT content is delivered via the public Internet instead of a closed, private network system that uses exclusive equipment like set-top boxes,[12] which is typically the case with IPTV services (such as U-verse TV).[citation needed]

OTT services are typically accessed via television sets with integrated Smart TV platforms,[13] streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku, video game consoles, websites on personal computers, apps on smartphones and tablets.[3][14]



In 2011, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada's telecommunications regulator, stated that it "considers that Internet access to programming independent of a facility or network dedicated to its delivery (via, for example, cable or satellite) is the defining feature of what has been termed 'over-the-top' services".[15]

In contrast to video on demand systems offered by cable and IPTV, which operate over managed networks where channels can be changed instantly and thus content available instantaneously, some OTT services such as iTunes require that the video be downloaded first and then played.[16] Relatedly, some OTT services require movie download but can start playing the content before the download completes (streaming).[17]

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) categorizes OTT services into two groups: multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and online video distributors (OVDs).[18][19]

Virtual MVPDs include such services such as DirecTV Stream, FuboTV, Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV.

The FCC defined an OVD as:[18]

any entity that provides video programming by means of the Internet or other Internet Protocol (IP)-based transmission path where the transmission path is provided by a person other than the OVD. An OVD does not include an MVPD inside its MVPD footprint or an MVPD to the extent it is offering online video programming as a component of an MVPD subscription to customers whose homes are inside its MVPD footprint.



In broadcasting, over-the-top (OTT) content is the audio, video, and other media content delivered over the Internet, without the involvement of a multiple-system operator (MSO) in the control or distribution of the content. The Internet provider may be aware of the contents of the Internet Protocol (IP) packets and may be able to block or restrict their transit to end users (unless that internet provider operates within a jurisdiction that requires "net neutrality"). However, the ISP is not responsible for the viewing abilities, copyrights, and/or other redistribution of the content from the OTT provider. This model contrasts with the purchasing or rental of video or audio content from an Internet service provider, such as pay television, video on demand and internet protocol television (IPTV).[20] OTT refers to content from a third party that is delivered to an end-user, with the ISP simply transporting IP packets.[21][22][23][24]

OTT television, commonly called streaming television, remains the most popular OTT content. This signal is received over the Internet or through a cell phone network, as opposed to receiving the television signal from a terrestrial broadcast or satellite. The video distributor controls access through an app, a separate OTT dongle, or a box connected to a phone, PC, or smart television set. By mid-2017, 58 percent of US households would access one in a given month, and advertising revenues from OTT channels exceeded revenue from videos playing in web browsers on desktops and laptops.[25]

In 2019, the record of simultaneous users watching an OTT event was set at 18.6 million in India by Disney Entertainment's video streaming platform Hotstar.[26]

Modes of access


Consumers can access OTT content through Internet-connected devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs,[27] set-top boxes, gaming consoles, digital media players, desktop and laptop computers. As of 2019, Android and iOS users made up more than 45% of the total OTT content streaming audience, while 39% of users used another device to access OTT content.[28]

Streaming platforms


Mobile communication


The term "OTT" has also been used to describe no-carrier cellphones, for which all communications are charged as data,[29] avoiding monopolistic competition, or apps for phones that transmit data in this manner, including both those that replace other call methods[30][31] and those that update software.[31][32][7][33]

OTT messaging is defined as instant messaging services or online chat provided by third parties, as an alternative to text messaging services provided by a mobile network operator.[34][35] An example is the Facebook-owned mobile application WhatsApp, that serves to replace text messaging on Internet connected smartphones.[36][37] Other providers of OTT messaging include Viber, WeChat, iMessage, Skype, Telegram and the now defunct Google Allo.[38]

OTT voice calling, usually called VoIP, capabilities, for instance, a softphone or as provided by FaceTime, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Zoom use open internet communication protocols to replace and sometimes enhance existing operator controlled services offered by mobile phone operators.[37]

See also



  1. ^ Kim, Myung-Eun; Djalalov, Muzaffar, eds. (11 July 2014). "HSTP.IPTV-Gloss: Glossary and terminology of IP-based TVrelated multimedia services" (PDF). International Telecommunication Union.
  2. ^ McDermott, John (17 March 2022). "CTV, OTT, SVOD, AVOD, BVOD, FAST…What the Tech are all these digital TV acronyms?". The Current. The Trade Desk. Archived from the original on 1 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Need to Know: What's the difference between OTT, CTV and streaming?". Nielsen Corporation. February 2024. Retrieved 19 March 2024.
  4. ^ "What is OTT? The meaning of video streaming platforms". TravSonic. 29 February 2024. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  5. ^ Wilbert, Max (20 June 2024). "The 10 Best OTT Streaming Services". Dacast. Retrieved 10 July 2024.
  6. ^ Nissen, Keith (31 August 2023). "Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ dominate global SVOD viewing hours". S&P Global.
  7. ^ a b Tariq, Haseeb (8 February 2021). "Council Post: What Is OTT Advertising, And Why Is It A Trend?". Forbes. Archived from the original on 21 April 2022. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  8. ^ Shonk, David J.; Weiner, James F. (20 October 2021). Sales and Revenue Generation in Sport Business. Human Kinetics. ISBN 9781492594222.
  9. ^ Rosenblatt, Bill (4 May 2017). "Internet TV Skinny Bundle Market Gets More Crowded With Hulu's New Service". Forbes. Archived from the original on 18 May 2024.
  10. ^ Dreier, Troy (21 June 2017). "Sling TV Is the Most Popular Skinny Bundle, in Over 2M US Homes". Streaming Media. Archived from the original on 29 June 2018.
  11. ^ Wolfe, Bryan M. (15 November 2017). "After Pushback, Amazon Cancels Plans for Skinny Television Bundle". AppAdvice. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020.
  12. ^ Moro-Visconti, Roberto (17 April 2021). Startup Valuation: From Strategic Business Planning to Digital Networking. Springer. ISBN 9783030716080.
  13. ^ "Definition of smart TV". PCMag. 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  14. ^ "What is OTT?". Endavo Media. 13 April 2023. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  15. ^ (CRTC), Government of Canada, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (3 October 2011). "Results of the fact-finding exercise on the over-the-top programming services". www.crtc.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 3 June 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Gibbon, David C.; Liu, Zhu (2008). Introduction to Video Search Engines. Washington, DC: Federal Communications Commission (FCC). p. 251. Bibcode:2008ivse.book.....G.
  17. ^ Cansado, Jose Miguel (13 October 2008). "Will Internet TV Kill IPTV?". Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  18. ^ a b FCC (6 May 2016). Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming [Seventeenth Report; MB Docket No. 15-158; DA 16-510] (PDF) (Report). Washington, DC: Federal Communications Commission (FCC). pp. 4417–4587. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  19. ^ "FCC Officially Launches OVD Definition NPRM". Broadcasting & Cable. 19 December 2014. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  20. ^ IPTV is the delivery of television content using signals based on the logical Internet protocol (IP), rather than through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal and cable television formats.
  21. ^ Hansell, Saul (3 March 2009). "Time Warner Goes Over the Top". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Over-the-Top Video and Content Delivery Networks Will Transform Video-On-Demand Provisioning". Electronic Component News. 19 November 2009. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012.
  23. ^ "Why 2011 Is Being Called The Year Of "The Cable Cut"". Business Insider. 30 December 2010. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  24. ^ "Who Is Playing The OTT Game And How To Win It". Business Insider. 30 December 2010. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  25. ^ Andrew Orlowski; Can the last person watching desktop video please turn out the light? Archived 2017-08-08 at the Wayback Machine, The Register, 8 Aug 2017 (retrieved 8 Aug 2017).
  26. ^ Singh, Manish (12 May 2019). "Hotstar, Disney's Indian streaming service, sets new global record for live viewership". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 28 December 2019.
  27. ^ Roettgers, Janko (8 January 2016). "LG's New TVs Mix Streaming Channels from Buzzfeed, GQ & Vogue with Traditional Networks". Variety. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  28. ^ Johnson, James (24 January 2019). "OTT Content: What We Learned from 1.1 Million Subscribers". Uscreen. Archived from the original on 2 November 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  29. ^ Weaver, Todd (1 August 2019). "What a No-Carrier Phone Could Look Like". Purism. Archived from the original on 30 January 2021. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  30. ^ Fitchard, Kevin (3 November 2014). "Can you hear me now? Verizon, AT&T to make voice-over-LTE interoperable in 2015". gigaom.com. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  31. ^ a b "Why Startups Are Beating Carriers (Or The Curious Case Of The Premium SMS Horoscope Service & The Lack Of Customer Consent)". TechCrunch. 25 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  32. ^ "A Closer Look At Blackphone, The Android Smartphone That Simplifies Privacy". TechCrunch. 26 February 2014. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  33. ^ Willemyns, Ines (2021). Digital Services in International Trade Law. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108837538.
  34. ^ "Chart of the Day: Mobile Messaging". Business Insider. 17 May 2013. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  35. ^ Maytom, Tim (4 August 2014). "Over-The-Top Messaging Apps Overtake SMS Messaging". Mobile Marketing Magazine. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  36. ^ Albergotti, Reed; MacMillan, Douglas; Rusli, Evelyn (20 February 2014). "Facebook's $18 Billion Deal Sets High Bar". The Wall Street Journal.
  37. ^ a b Rao, Leena (4 September 2015). "WhatsApp hits 900 million users". Fortune. Archived from the original on 28 January 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  38. ^ "Apps Roundup: Best Messaging Apps". Tom's Guide. 4 October 2016. Archived from the original on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2017.

Further reading