The video streaming and consumption landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years. When people think of home entertainment, they are no longer thinking about traditional television.
Brand names like Netflix, DisneyPlus and Hulu, all of which provide video streaming services, have become household names and netted huge profits in the last few years. According to a forecast by Digital TV Research, media revenue from such streaming services will surpass $224 billion by 2027.
This shift has been driven by a number of factors including the advancement of internet connectivity, access to mobile devices and most importantly the rise of OTT streaming technology.
What is OTT Streaming?
OTT or “Over-the-top” streaming is a media distribution method in which content is broadcast over the internet. It is based on the OTT technology which involves software and hardware that lets broadcasters bypass traditional streaming methods such as television.
In the past, if you wanted to broadcast video, television was usually the go-to medium. Viewers would access the content on a television set either through cable or satellite. With OTT streaming however, they can watch their favorite content on any device that is connected to the internet – be it a laptop, mobile phone, tablets or a smart TV.
How Does OTT Streaming Work?
OTT streaming relies on the use of specialized software, commonly called “online video platforms” or OVPs.
These platforms are responsible for hosting and organizing the video content into user-friendly libraries. Think of how you scan through collections on Netflix on a browser or your app.
The platform then ensures that the content delivered is compatible with end users’ devices. Various technologies and algorithms operate at the back-end to accomplish this, by creating different file sizes, compression types, and data formats and then, delivering the right files depending on the end user’s network in real-time.
Benefits of OTT Streaming
The benefits that OTT streaming provides for broadcasters directly result from what consumers find useful. These include:
No Need of Additional Hardware
Since the video is streamed over the internet, users do not need to purchase special hardware. As long as they have an internet-connected device, they will be able to view the content.
Anywhere, Anytime Viewing
OTT streaming allows audiences the convenience of viewing their favorite content from any device anywhere and at any time, be it at home on a smart TV or en route to work on their mobile phones.
Unlike traditional broadcasting technologies, OTT streaming gives users more control over their viewing experience. They can pause, rewind or fast forward at any point and as many times as they want.
For the end user, OTT streaming turns out to be cheaper than traditional broadcasting, since they get access to a vast collection of content, at a monthly subscription fee.
What Technologies Do OTT Platform Providers Need
If you are in the business of streaming content to users via OTT, you will need to adopt a few technologies to be able to build your OTT platform.
To begin with, you will need a video hosting solution to store and manage the video content. As a crude analogy, think of it as the same thing that website hosting does in creating a website.
Next, you will need a way to process and compress the huge video files to be able to transfer them to the end users. Compression technology helps break up the large video files into smaller chunks known as packets, which are sent to the end users, where specific streaming protocols reassemble the data into the final video.
Content Delivery Network
If the end user is geographically separated from the host server by a large distance, this can lead to latency and delays. To solve this, you will need to adopt content delivery networks (CDNs) which helps distribute the content to end users through a geographically distributed network of servers and data centers. By bringing the content closer to the location of users through these data centers (Points of Presence or PoPs), CDNs help minimize delays and improve the user experience.
Data privacy and security have become major concerns for OTT platforms. As the content is delivered over the Internet, a great many threats will compromise your OTT business such as unauthenticated logins/access, hacking of user profiles and pirated broadcast. Thus an OTT platform provider should offer a wide variety of features to restrict access to content and protect data security .
API & SDK
To make the most of your OTT streaming service, you might also need to adopt relevant APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and SDKs. APIs help you integrate the platform into your existing workflows and customization of user interfaces.
It can also be used for monitoring OTT content delivery, user data, and customizing the video players. For example, you can use it to customize the appearance of the player, add or remove buttons and show sound controls. All of this can help you improve the experience for users in the long run.
How CDNetworks Helps OTT Platforms Optimize Their Streaming Experience
CDNetworks offers two key solutions for OTT platform providers – Cloud Live and Cloud VoD.
云直播 is an all-in-one live streaming solution with features for stream ingesting, processing, and delivery. It leverages the industry-leading content delivery network (CDN) from CDNetworks and powerful media-processing capabilities to deliver a seamless, high-speed, and low-latency streaming experience. Developers can also take advantage of features such as video embed code, cloud player, RESTful API, and SDKs to customize the OTT streaming service according to business needs.
云点播 is a cloud-based end-to-end solution that supports Video on Demand (VoD) streaming in similar ways. Cloud VoD also uses CDNetworks’ global content delivery network (CDN) to help you manage an entire VoD asset processing workflow seamlessly and deliver an engaging VoD experience to your audience.
With this solution, you also can avoid costly data centers and complex infrastructures and instead rely on a single product to deliver optimized VoD content to users without compromising quality or security.