VoD vs. OTT: What's the Difference?

As online digital media continues to evolve, new terms emerge. Unfamiliar phrases can create confusion when you're looking to build an audience and content to lure them in. What does VoD mean? Is it the same as OTT? Consider the OTT definition and compare it to another potentially confusing term, VoD. When you understand the differences, you'll be able to publish your content properly.

VoD Vs. OTT: What's the Difference?

OTT Definition and VoD Definition

OTT stands for “over the top,” which is a way to describe how content is published. Similar to how a train rides on predetermined rails, OTT content rides on top of an existing platform with its own rules as to how content can be published and what kind of content is allowed. OTT doesn't have to be online; cable TV providers are the original OTT platform as they broadcast others' content over their network.

VoD, on the other hand, stands for “Video on Demand.” Video on Demand emerged as a term in the early '00s when cable companies started to provide access to reruns of certain shows at any time of day. Today, it refers to any video that you can watch whenever you want.

OTT Describes Platforms, VoD Describes Content

A good way to help keep these terms separate is to remember that OTT describes the platform where content is hosted, while VoD describes the content that goes on them. For example, many live streamers use the OTT platform Twitch, which allows anyone to broadcast to the world on top of their platform. However, Twitch has very little support for Video on Demand. Nevertheless, creators want to upload cut-down versions of their streams for VoD use.

As a result, many Twitch streamers also have a YouTube channel where they can upload clips or cuts of their streaming sessions, and they often refer to these uploads as “Vods” since they will be Video on Demand. So, some OTT platforms may accommodate VoD content, while others may not. What should you do as a creator?

Leveraging Both Concepts to Your Advantage

The key to building a wider audience is to make content available in as many forms as possible on as many platforms as you can. There are many OTT platforms that accept VoD content, including Amazon FireTV, Roku, YouTube, Vimeo, and more. If you publish your content on multiple platforms, more people will find your material. You can build a wider community faster by posting everywhere.

However, publishing on platforms means you're subject to their rules and restrictions. VoD grants a greater degree of freedom as you could also host your own video files online and encourage people to sign up to get access. The wildly successful YouTube channel Corridor launched its own VoD library called Corridor Digital, where paying customers can watch additional Corridor content on demand.

Get Access to It All

If the thought of publishing your content across multiple platforms in various formats sounds like a lot of work, don't give up just yet. It doesn't have to be a chore. With a media cloud, you can upload your content once and then distribute it to as many platforms as you want.