VOD, Live, and OTT: The Difference Explained

Gone are the days when we had to follow pre-set schedules and watch videos only on TV sets. Today, we have VOD platforms and OTT, which changed the media industry completely. We can choose to watch whatever we want on any device we want.

These two progressed so far that the lines between them are blurring, and many use the terms interchangeably. Let’s observe them both in detail to understand the difference.

What is VOD?

VOD stands for video-on-demand, referring to videos available at any time without the limitations of a broadcasting schedule. It brings a lot of convenience to viewers since they control their content consumption, being able to watch what, when, where, and how they want.

VOD content is never live or time-shifted but can offer video files to download.

Generally, VOD is about streaming content at a consumer’s choice. It is the opposite of what we have with traditional television.

People can choose the show, not following a fixed schedule, because this show is available all the time. Viewers watch it on any device, including tablets, mobile phones, computers, and TVs. They also re-watch favorite scenes and skip boring episodes.

What is OTT?

OTT stands for over-the-top and refers to the delivery of video, audio, messaging, and VoIP calls. It is about transferring media through the Internet instead of cable or satellite services. Simply, it is a distribution method.

When utilizing OTT, people can watch VOD content and enjoy live streams. There is no necessity to download files on devices to view them.

People can stream videos from start to finish because of the OTT distribution model.

Difference Between VOD and OTT

The VOD and OTT terms are often used interchangeably. OTT describes the distribution model where content is delivered through the Internet instead of cable or satellite. VOD, in turn, is the consumption model with videos available for playback on a user’s demand.

To conclude, OTT can deliver both VOD and live content, whereas VOD is never live.

Live Streams into VOD

While VOD content is videos pre-recorded and stored on servers, live streams are recorded and delivered in real time. Live streams can become VOD if a content provider wants to repurpose them.

Recording live streams helps expand your audience since viewers can watch them later. People receive control because they can watch live streams later if they don’t catch it in time. Moreover, VOD allows them to rewind, pause, and fast forward at their convenience.

Additionally, you can monetize your live streams when repurposing them into VOD. Since many people will likely miss your stream, saving the record of the stream will allow them to watch it later, and you will generate extra revenue.

There are the following monetization models for VOD content:

  • SVOD system – Subscription-based Video-On-Demand. It is any VOD service that provides access to video content for a recurring fee. People get to watch original content as much as they want.
  • AVOD system – Advertising-based Video-On-Demand. It is about using commercials to generate revenue. Usually, these services are free for viewers, but many providers use this model in combination with another one.
  • TVOD system – Transactional-based Video-On-Demand. This model described streaming on a pay-per-view basis, as people should pay for every video on the platform. Also, content providers use it for Premium content.

Final Thoughts

OTT is a delivery model capable of transmitting VOD content and live streams. These two consumption modes give people different opportunities. Live is about watching the video recorded in real-time, while VOD is available on a viewer’s demand. It allows people to control what, when, where, and how they watch, which never happens with traditional television.

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