Over the top TV, the “OTT” word, what it means to you

One of the big buzzword acronyms at NATPE in Miami this week— is “OTT.” If you aren’t familiar, OTT is a term coined from the phrase “over the top television” which is a way to characterize videos that are consumed from the web or social media channels on devices that aren’t built for traditional broadcast, cable and satellite TV, like tablets and laptops. This is the age when millennials in particular are “cutting the cord.” Many simply don’t subscribe to cable or satellite or put up the digital antenna. Yet, they watch plenty of video, thanks to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon, among other sources.

It’s an age where you have to wonder, who has control, the viewer or the programmer? Now more than ever before, even back to traditional forms of video entertainment, with the DVR, consumers can schedule the show without scheduling the network.

For video marketers, advertisers and PR professionals, using the traditional channels to target consumers and key audiences is changing just as radically as the mediums themselves. In the SVOD world—that’s for the subscription video on demand world part of OTT, unless you are doing some kind of product placement or brand integration such as you might do in a film, there’s no space for ads. SVOD would cover Amazon where you pay a fee per year or Netflix where it is monthly, but there are many iterations and option in between with emerging services and platforms and many of the cable pay channels are offering their on-demand content in a number of subscription video on demand options.

For marketers, your most realistic opportunity may be in the AVOD part of OTT, that’s ad supported video on demand, more like traditional TV media. These can be services like YouTube, where it’s free to watch videos if you watch the ads before. But of course, YouTube Red, YouTube’s pay channel or their SVOD product is right around the corner. But communicators should not overlook the potential to create their own programming in the AVOD world to build engagement. By a huge majority, the biggest demand for AVOD content is comedic. If you make it funny, it’s more likely to be a success in this medium.

OTT requires communicators to be a lot more creative than before. There are lot of interesting opportunities in the 6 second video format on Vine and the 15 seconds Instagram offers, so you don’t have to jump into longer form or at least longer OTT opportunities, you can test the concept in a more affordable, smaller way.

Thoughts, questions, comments? Always glad to brainstorm. I’d love to hear from you…