How Is OTT Different From Cable?

OTT TV, short for over-the-top TV, is toppling cable TV services and quickly becoming the main method of media distribution. Instead of relying on a cable provider and their high monthly fees, users can select a handful of OTT services and get all the content they desire. But there are some important technical differences to consider if you're looking to publish content. For one thing, your viewers may need an OTT box or device to watch your production.

How Is OTT Different From Cable?

No Need for a Cable Box

Cable TV services send signals down coaxial lines to your house. In the old days, cable companies would send a few dozen signals down the line and your TV would tune into each one manually. Nowadays, cable TV includes a cable box to decode signals and provide a wider selection of channels. With OTT TV, none of this is necessary. OTT services depend on the internet to function, so as long as your device has an internet connection, you're ready.

Nevertheless, there are some OTT services that do require additional devices or software to work. Fortunately, many of these platforms are baked into the devices you already use in your living room.

Some Platforms Use an OTT Box or Dongle

Several OTT platforms run on proprietary software, similar to how your cable box has software to give you a menu and guide. Specifically, Roku and Amazon FireTV are two OTT platforms that require additional hardware. However, these devices are much smaller than the standard cable box. Roku and Amazon FireTV work with a dongle that plugs directly into an HDMI port, and in some cases a nearby USB port for power.

These devices are becoming less common since TV manufacturers have started to provide support for these OTT platforms straight from the factory. Even when the manufacturer doesn't bake it in, as is the case with Samsung's Smart TVs, they still have an app store where it's possible to install Roku or Amazon software and start watching right away.

Ads Work Differently on OTT

On cable TV, ads run at predetermined intervals. Usually, there are ads at the end and at the start of every program, and typically another set of ads every 10 or 15 minutes. The ads that run are determined by the cable channel. On OTT platforms, ads work very differently. First, instead of specific channels signing their own ad deals, the platform itself makes deals with advertisers. Secondly, ads appear when the user decides to watch something, and they're dynamic.

Since OTT programs are available on demand, so too are the ads. Ads can change based on the user, the program, or simply which advertiser is paying the most to the platform this month.

Content Is Much Less Restricted on OTT

Cable TV is subject to the FCC's broadcasting rules, which include regulations on obscenity and profanity. In contrast, OTT content can generally be more risqué than what's on cable. Of course, the OTT platform can impose its own rules, and you still need to create advertiser-friendly content or you may not be able to earn money from ad revenue.

Millions of people are switching to OTT and leaving cable behind. Bring your content to as many OTT platforms as possible with Lightcast. Contact Lightcast today to learn more about how we can help you publish your content across every OTT platform and capture more of this growing market.