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Over the last few years, the new paradigm of OTT (Over-the-Top) television has been supplanting traditional cable TV as the primary viewing source for consumers. In this blog, we are going to discuss OTT meaning and some common industry-related terms!


OTT Meaning & Related Terms Breakdown:

OTT Definition | What Does Over-The-Top Mean?

Over-The-Top refers to the delivery of TV and film content (as a standalone product) via devices connecting both the Internet and the television. In short, Over-The-Top implies that OTT devices have to go “over” the cable box to give users access to TV content. There are three primary OTT connections:

  • Connected Devices like streaming devices (i.e., AppleTV, Roku), smart TVs (i.e., LG, Samsung), and gaming consoles (i.e., Xbox, PlayStation).
  • Popular Subscriptions and Free Streaming Services, i.e., Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, Youtube TV, Playstation Vue, Pluto TV, and more.
  • TV Apps accessible via Internet-connected TVs, i.e., A&E, Watch ESPN, CNN, etc.

Other OTT Variants:

  • OTT App – An application that allows users to stream videos via the Internet.
  • OTT Infrastructure – The infrastructure such as encoding and content delivery network that enables delivery of OTT.
  • OTT Platform – Software and/or hardware that enables the delivery of a specific service and associated features in the video medium. (i.e., the Struum service uses a platform built on cloud-based Gen5 Architecture).
  • OTT Streaming – Includes Netflix, YouTube, and other Internet-based video consumption.

Glossary of OTT-Related Terms

Cloud-Based Architecture

Cloud Video Architecture enables efficient, scalable video distribution using online servers to store video files and gives viewers access regardless of their locations and/or their devices. Advantages of cloud-based services:

  • Enables scalability of video distribution systems without the need to invest in new hardware.
  • Extensibility to quickly deploy new features.
  • Ability to have the latest solutions without hardware upgrades.
  • Providers can leverage existing cloud spends.
  • Flexibility to adapt business models to changes in the market.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of proxy servers and their data centers. With its servers’ and data centers’ geographical distribution, a CDN distributes the OTT service spatially relative to viewers with high availability and uncompromised streaming quality. CDNs are serving many sectors of the Internet content, including:

  • Social Media
  • Live/On-Demand Streaming Media
  • Applications (portals, e-commerce)
  • Web Objects (graphics, texts, scripts)
  • Downloadable Objects (software, documents, media files)

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a way to protect digital copyrighted works. It comprises a set of access control tools to restrict the use and distribution of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works (i.e., software, multimedia content, etc.).

Learn more about the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act here!

High Definition (HD)

High Definition refers to high-resolution video displays spanning more than 720 pixels wide. HD typically signifies 1080-pixel-wide (1080p) videos.

HTTP Live Streaming (HLS)

HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) is an adaptive protocol delivering live and on-demand streaming content. HLS is HTTP-based, meaning it leverages HTTP technology for bitrate streaming video and audio data from media servers to viewers’ screens. Developed by Apple Inc. and released in 2009, HLS was the most popular streaming format in 2019, as surveyed in an annual video industry survey. Support for the protocol is widespread in:

  • Mobile Devices
  • Web Browsers
  • Media Players
  • Streaming Media Servers

Internet Protocol (IPTV)

Internet Protocol (IPTV) | What Does OTT Mean? Glossary of Over-The-Top Related Terms

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is the delivery of television content over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. With IPTV, a client media player can play the content (such as a TV channel) almost immediately, thanks to its ability to continuously stream the source media. IPTV services can be classified into:

  • Video on Demand (VoD)
  • Live TV/Media
  • Cloud DVR, including start-over TV (replay the current TV show from the beginning) and catch-up TV (replay a TV show broadcast hours or days ago)

IPTV vs. OTT (Managed vs. unmanaged networks)

  • IPTV – via a closed, proprietary network (like LAN or WAN) and requires some network upgrade to ensure picture quality without affecting other network functions.
  • OTT – via the Internet and works without investment in additional network infrastructure or changes to the existing network.

Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD)

Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD) is a service that provides several TV channels – Cable or Satellite TV.

Some of the MVPD giants in the US are Altice USA, AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Dish Network, and Verizon Communications.

Pay-per-View (PPV)

Pay-per-view (PPV) is a type of Video-on-Demand service where the broadcaster shows the event simultaneously to whomever has ordered it, and viewers make purchases per video.

In 2012, YouTube – the largest video hosting service – started to allow partners to host live PPV events on the platform.

Set-Top Box (STB)

A Set-Top Box (STB) (also called a cable box) is a device that generally consists of:

  • An External Signal Source
  • TV-tuner Input and Displays Output to a TV set

STBs turn the source signal into content in the form that is displayable on the TV screen or other display devices. STBs are used in:

  • Over-The-Air Television
  • Cable Television
  • Satellite Television

Software Development Kit (SDK)

In the case of video delivery, a Software Development Kit (SDK) is a group of software development tools used to enable secure playback of DRM protected content on a wide range of devices.

Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI)

As its name suggests, Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI – Dynamic Ad Insertion/Stitching) is a way of inserting a video ad directly into a video stream.

Streaming Media

Streaming Media is video and/or audio that is continually being sent from a provider and delivered to the viewer. Streaming focuses on the ways in which the medium is delivered rather than the medium itself.

Video on Demand (VoD)

Video on Demand (VoD) is a media distribution system allowing access to videos without the constraints of a typical static broadcasting schedule or traditional video playback devices. Service providers today are monetizing content through new types of VoD, including SVoD (Subscription VoD), TVoD (Transactional VoD) and AVoD (Advertising-based VoD) VoD content can be streamed through:

  • Traditional STB
  • Connected TVs and devices
  • Game consoles
  • Remote Devices (computers, tablets, and smartphones)

Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (vMVPD)

Virtual MVPD services allow the viewer to watch live TV channels via the Internet. Examples of vMVPDs include Sling, YouTube TV, etc.

All in all, OTT is clearly one of the most fundamental advances to the distribution landscape. Whether it is VoD or a live experience, OTT, with the freedom of choice it represents, is here to stay.

If you have any questions on OTT meaning and related terms, leave them down below or message us. Quickplay will get the conversation started!