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The advent of commercial television changed the entertainment landscape for all parties involved, from the viewers to the networks to the way marketers and brands capitalized on that viewership. Now, OTT distribution is poised to do the same.

The way we view content has changed dramatically with the introduction of streaming services that redefined what it means to “watch TV.” From subscription-based offerings like Netflix to transactional aggregators like Vimeo On Demand, there is a seemingly endless array of options that puts consumers in control of what, and when, they watch. Because of this, it is important for content creators to develop the right OTT strategy. 

If the younger-aged consumers have taught us anything, it’s that people want freedom of choice, and they want it fast — hence the success of OTT businesses. It’s been so successful, in fact, that there are now over 820 million connected video devices in the US, with 71% of internet users utilizing an OTT service at least once a month. These numbers are constantly in flux, as the powers of the internet and OTT distribution continue to develop. Coupled with the reach of the hundreds of available streaming services, it’s easy to see the immense potential to capitalize on OTT. 

For brands looking to grow and engage with their audience, sharing content that their customers care about is instrumental — and building a proprietary OTT channel is one way to get ahead of the curve. The chance to eliminate the noise of social media and refine a consumer’s experience continues to bring more and more into the exciting world of OTT.

Here’s what you need to know about OTT strategy, how brands are diving in, and the benefits of shifting your video marketing strategy to OTT.

What is OTT?

OTT stands for over-the-top, and it refers to premium video content that is streamed directly to viewers over the internet through different devices as opposed to appearing on traditional broadcast TV outlets like cable and satellite. Netflix, Hulu, Paramount+, and Amazon Prime Video are just a handful of examples of OTT strategy at play.

Where are people watching? Some examples of OTT-capable devices include Apple TV, SmartTV,  Roku, Chromecast, Xbox, and FireStick, just to name a few. You can also stream OTT content on mobile and desktop, but they are not considered OTT devices.

We’re seeing this play out in dramatic fashion today. As more and more households ditch cable, ott distribution has become a vital part of the content creation process. A 2021 study by Pew Research Center found that only 56% of Americans watched TV through traditional cable and satellite setups.

5 Benefits of Adopting an OTT Strategy

There’s a reason why the adoption of an OTT strategy is on the rise — several reasons, in fact. From its monetization options to its ability to be streamed just about anywhere, here are a few of the attributes that make OTT such a viable option.

  1. Stream It Anywhere: If there’s a wifi or internet signal, there’s OTT. This means your content can be consumed in a much wider viewing space.
  2. Ads and Other Monetization Strategies: OTT content is full of potential for targeted campaigns, ad-hoc subscriptions services, syndication and more. In fact, one study revealed that publishers could potentially earn $21.6B annually across YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
  3. Availability: Viewers are no longer limited to what’s on the air; they can watch what they want at any time they want.
  4. Consumer Freedom: OTT puts viewers in control, which in turn, drives the demand for more content production and faster turnaround times.
  5. Go Global: We mentioned the ability to stream anywhere. This is not limited by region. The beautiful thing about OTT distribution is that viewers can watch content wherever they live. Think for a minute about the possibilities that may open up for your brand.

Growing Your Audience 

All of these benefits play into the greater importance of OTT strategy for brands looking to stand out in the marketplace: omnichannel marketing. OTT, with its click-through rates, view rates, and other data, provides insight into the customer journey that cannot be obtained through more traditional advertising outlets. In addition, OTT presents a unique opportunity to grow an audience by engaging through relevant video content that customers truly care about.

The bottom line: OTT can help grow audiences, bolster campaigns, and provide a more robust experience from the first touch to purchase.

The Challenges of OTT Strategy

Like many great innovations, OTT comes with its set of challenges, too. When it comes to ads, for example, frequency without caps can be an issue for consumers. An increase in bot activity has also been observed in mismanaged OTT distribution. In that same vein, data privacy and ad fraud are also concerns for consumers and brands alike. Finally, according to Forbes, placement is a challenge; one that can be mitigated through the use of platform filters.

Whose upping their OTT strategy and why?

Considering the benefits and potential of a well-managed OTT strategy, its no wonder why more and more brands are overhauling their video strategies in favor of debuting their own OTT networks. Getting started is easier than ever, and after the initial investment, the marketing ROI potential is massive.

Reach is also paramount as OTT users encompass a wide range of ages. According to this study, more than three-quarters of the OTT audience range in age from 18 through 49, with 56% of ad impressions coming from millennials (18-34) and 27% coming from Gen X (35-54).

Notable brands are taking advantage, like Sundance, HBO, and Disney+, which launched in the fall of 2019. Even broadcast networks like ABC, NBC, and more are catering to the OTT audience, offering their content on apps and online. NBC News, for example, successfully utilized OTT distribution by launching “Stay Tuned” in 2018, the first daily news show to appear on a social media channel.

OTT isn’t just for major players, however. Smaller, savvy brands with niche communities are also poised to take advantage of OTT content of their own in the coming years. With the continued rise of social media, the time is now to capitalize on the potential of OTT business and distribution. 

Today, the OTT platform offers an unprecedented opportunity for creators, brands, and even consumers to cultivate an experience that benefits everyone involved. If you’re interested in learning more about OTT strategy, check out our OTT FAQs or learn how to take your video distribution strategy to the next level with Endavo’s Video Distribution Platform (VDA).