A Content Creator’s VOD Handbook
He had his first YouTube account at 10. Started NOAH Pop TV, where he showcased short films and interviewed artists, at the age of 12.
After pivoting to meet the demand of his audience, Noah Wilson launched iHollywood TV in his sophomore year of high school and landed Lady Antebellum as his first interview shortly thereafter. Now, according to a tweet, he’s brought “1,041,136 new viewers to [his] brand” in just under a month. He has since interviewed hundreds of A-list stars, including Tori Spelling, America’s Got Talent hosts Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum, and Riverdale’s Vanessa Morgan under his new show name The Must Watch Show. And the name rings true–it’s a must-watch!
This is the power of VOD — leveraging your brand to reach wider audiences.
“One of the first questions others in the media look for is: ‘Where else do you air other than YouTube?’ Because they know that the more places you air, the more people you reach. I needed to answer that question.”Noah WilsoniHollywood TV
VOD platforms are one of the most powerful tools a content creator can use. Their increasing popularity and widespread adoption are no mystery — they are the key to unlocking widespread distribution, brand awareness, and large paychecks.
But not all VOD services are created the same.
This comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know about VOD, from how we got here and the consequences of playing by other people’s rules to the outstanding rewards of leveraging your own dedicated VOD platform.
Here’s a quick overview of the topics we’ll be covering — feel free to skip ahead to the section that you’re most interested in:
1. The Evolution of Video Content — From Cable to Rentals to Video On Demand
- 1975: Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frasier, the first ever live sporting event, was broadcast around the world by HBO
- 1985: Blockbuster Video opens its first store, giving people the ability to rewatch major motion pictures at home
- 1997: Netflix is founded and begins mailing DVD rentals, flipping the script for video content access by increasing convenience
- 1999: Netflix went digital with the first mainstream OTT/VOD consumer subscription service, which changed the industry forever.
- 2005: YouTube goes live, creating the first ever hybrid VOD/social video platform and paving the way for user-generated content
- 2013: After being acquired by Facebook the year before, Instagram introduces video to its platform and accelerates the accessibility of creating and watching video content in real-time
- 2016: TikTok is born and quickly adopted by Gen Z, where over 800 million active users create and share video content and 1 billion TikToks are viewed daily
- 2019: Disney launched the Disney+ app, which was downloaded 3.2 million times in the first 24 hours.
The progression of video content has exponentially increased to deliver convenience to viewers while democratizing the ability to create content.
2. What does VOD mean? (And what is it exactly?)
What does VOD stand for, anyways? VOD stands for Video On Demand — it’s a technology that allows creators and users to bypass “traditional” methods of distributing and watching video content on their own viewing schedules vs. live broadcast TV.
Why is it different? Because VOD allows users to watch what they want, when they want, avoiding the traditional broadcast schedule.
Although Pay-Per-View (PPV) is technically a cable-based VOD (usually a live broadcast), it doesn’t allow content creators access or the opportunity to benefit — a key difference in the continuing evolution of VOD streaming.
3. What is the difference between VOD and OTT?
This one gets a little tricky with the technicalities, so we’ll keep it short and sweet. First, a quick definition of OTT:
- Over-The-Top (OTT) media platforms are streaming services that allow video content to be delivered over the internet rather than by cable or satellite.
Wait, what does streaming mean? We’re glad you asked. Streaming means viewing any media content on a computer or mobile device through the internet and playing it on demand. Streaming means the content doesn’t need to be downloaded onto the device and it doesn’t need to be consumed live–though it can be live or replayed! Examples of streaming content include movies, TV shows, podcasts, video game livestreams, and music videos.
Now back to OTT.
OTT bypasses the traditional delivery of video content but, strictly speaking, does not include “on-demand” video content. So, who uses OTT? Lots of people, like Instagrammers every time they press “Go Live!” and major sports networks that stream the big game.
What does VOD mean for cable? It’s important to understand that with the rapid obsolescence of cable-based VOD, the difference between these two are narrowing and the hybridization of VOD streaming and OTT is continuing to grow (especially with companies like Netflix and YouTube, who represent opposite ends of the spectrum).
Netflix is a powerful company that delivers its own content over-the-top and on-demand, but mimics the large media companies in that they create their own in-house content (like HBO). YouTube on the other hand gives power to the user to generate and share their own content, and even profit from it! Although, there are also some drawbacks to using it for some creators. But more on that later.
So, how can content creators of all sizes leverage a VOD platform for their business?
4. The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Using Video On Demand Platforms — A Content Creator’s Journey
Content Creators Rely on VOD and OTT Services to Push Content
Pretty straightforward, right? If you’re creating content, you’re posting it on either YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or Vimeo (or a combination of the four). And when we say content creator, we mean anyone that is producing video content regardless of whether you’re a large corporation with a production and marketing team or just a sole person with an iPhone and an idea to share.
The absolute best thing about VOD streaming platforms today is the opportunity for content creators to share their content and monetize their channels.
But Not All VOD Services Are Created Equal, and…
… they’re probably hurting you in ways you didn’t even realize.
“Wait, how can YouTube be hurting me?” you might be thinking. “I’m earning a monthly income from my ad revenue!”
Yes, that’s true and it’s a great start! But…
They’re just that — a start. If you’re not leveraging a VOD service that puts more control in your hands and more money in your pocket, then your strategy is incomplete.
What does VOD mean for content creators?
Here are 3 biggest problems with only using one (or many) of the major platforms:
Only using YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and/or TikTok leaves you playing by the rules of others — even hidden rules and tricks that hurt creators. This means if you break the rules (likely without knowing), your video is removed which not only causes a headache for you, but also wastes your time. Or worse, your entire account is disabled without notice.
If you’ve monetized your YouTube channel, you’re also susceptible to the fact that any company can advertise on your video, whether you like it or not. If you’re a larger company, this means that competitors can advertise before the user gets to your video which could hurt your reputation, credibility, and bottom line.
Payout schedule & rules — being a part of other people’s VOD platforms means you’re forced to play by other people’s rules (we’ll continue with our YouTube example). The rules that YouTube uses for monetization, overall, are restrictive, unfair, and take power and money away from content creators.
The new 4,000 hour watchtime minimum (per rolling 12-month period) makes it difficult for those who are just getting started to gain traction. Essentially, in order to qualify you must create A LOT of content that is viewed A LOT. No pressure, right?
Which leads to the final problem for content creators…
Oversaturation and high competition forces creators to focus on creating new content at the expense of quality content. Pair this with the drive to capture enough watch hours and you have a recipe for high-quantity, lower-quality content when you’re first breaking into the world of YouTube.
So what can be done? You need your own dedicated VOD platform to push out your content in addition to using the major players. We know, we know, you’re probably thinking, “Not another VOD streaming service to keep up with”, but consider that…
Just Focusing on the “Big” VOD Providers Devalues Creative Work
You create content because you have an awesome idea or story to share, or want to start a conversation about an important topic, or to help promote your product. You likely didn’t envision throwing together mediocre content.
So, if you’re spending valuable time (and money) creating high-quality content, why would you not value it the way it deserves? You and your content deserve better, but if you don’t make the jump to a dedicated VOD platform that you can make the rules for, consider this:
Missing out on audience development
Even if you’re a full-time YouTuber with monetization rules on lock, you’d still be missing out on the opportunity to develop your audience. In every following, there is an avid group of supporters who are willing to spend even more time and money to consume your content.
By giving that hyper-focused audience extra content behind a subscription-based paywall or via smaller, behind-the-scenes clips that are free, you help feed and grow your most avid and vocal supporters. This audience is invaluable as they will often share your content obsessively, which translates into free marketing.
Leaving money on the table
When you own your own VOD streaming platform, YOU set the rules for monetization. There are no minimum watch hours to reach, and no direct competitors advertising on your content.
You also get to be in control of how you monetize whether that’s through third-party advertisements, subscription-based accounts, or even the ability for users to donate. You know your audience best, so only you can know what will work best for both parties.
Lack of control over your content
When it comes to using one of the big VOD streaming platforms, you’re on their turf and must play by their rules. Many times, you may not even realize what you’re agreeing to in the terms of service when you sign up and your content could be in jeopardy.
However, when you have your own platform (with Endavo, for example) to distribute content you retain control over your hard work. No more having the rug pulled out from under you, or moving goal posts, as you try to crush your own content goals.
Wasted time uploading videos individually to each platform
Tiring, isn’t it? You’ve just finished a long day creating, filming, editing, and uploading, only to get an error message that something wasn’t done right. Not only is this frustrating and inefficient, it costs you more time (which equates to more money).
What if we told you that you could upload your fresh video to all platforms with just a single click? Well, you can with Video Distribution Automation™ (VDA).
When you have your own VOD platform plus VDA, you can leverage a single dashboard where you can manage your content across multiple channels (YouTube, Facebook, etc.). Best part is, you can push out your content everywhere, at once.
So, what does VOD mean for a creator who wants to recoup leaking revenue and regain control?
Choose a VOD Service that Empowers Creators to Take Control
We’ve covered the consequences of not having your own VOD platform, so let’s dive into the benefits of having one.
When you own the platform, you set the rules. You have the freedom to choose how, when, where, and at what cost (money, email address, attention, etc.) users view your content.
Have multiple content creators that work and produce awesome videos under you? Then you need a VOD platform even more. A good platform will offer the ability to use a Multi-Channel Network (MCN), which allows you to manage and aggregate content across multiple channels while still remaining under a single, overarching platform for easy and streamlined governance.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have total control over how your content is distributed? Well, you can with the right VOD service. By leveraging the power of Video Distribution Automation™ (VDA), you can determine what content goes on which channels (i.e., this video only on YouTube and that video only on your VOD platform) to complete your comprehensive content strategy.
By guarding your most valuable content (rather than giving it away for free on YouTube), you can also create the opportunity to syndicate your content! Being able to sell or license your content to larger networks means reaching a wider audience and making more money.
Be in control of how you get paid. When you take control of your video content with a VOD platform, you can monetize in more ways beyond traditional advertising such as through direct sponsorships, subscription services, one-time purchases, syndication partnerships, patrons and tip jars, a la carte channel subscriptions, Pay-Per-View Live, and more.
The best part is that you’re not confined to doing just one of these across all your content — you have the freedom to mix and match each monetization method for the most appropriate video content.
Optimization for content creation means making the best decisions in every aspect of your digital video strategy. With your own VOD platform, you have the power to publish single- and multi-channel packages across a wide range of devices and services, leverage the power of multi-screen experiences for live events, and even increase the overall recognition of your unique brand through a focused marketing and delivery solution.
Plus, the less time you spend uploading videos on multiple platforms and worrying about platform rules, the more time you have to create quality content.
Of the many content creators who are leveraging a dedicated VOD streaming service, they’re not only reaping these benefits but they’re also seeing incredible results.
Take the DNC, for example (yes, the Democratic National Convention), a large gathering of politicians, speakers, grassroots activists, and more who gather to rally, support, and vote on the party’s eventual presidential nominee.
Historically, the event was only covered by mainstream media who would release clips throughout the day. But the way we meet, interact, and share changed after the impact of COVID-19 — and the DNCC needed a new way to share its message in 2020.
With Endavo’s help, the DNCC was able to capture the attention of over 28 million viewers on their first night across a diversity of platforms (Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, etc.) and easily upload content from one single source. The VOD streaming platform was able to give its audience multiple ways to watch, from live streaming to replays to highlight clips.
Imagine captivating that many viewers and having the power to optimize your distribution and monetization like that. Well, you can have these results too.
Reap the Rewards of a Dedicated VOD Platform
So, we’ve covered the pitfalls and consequences of NOT using a VOD service as well as the benefits of using one — let’s get to the fun stuff: rewards.
VOD is truly a game changer for content creators of any and all kinds. Whether you’re a one-person show putting out two amazing videos per month or a large company with multiple creators producing thousands of hours of content each year, there are tons of rewards to cash in on.
You control every aspect of your content creation, from ideation to production, monetizing to distribution, and more.
Stop playing by the rules of others and take control of how, when, and who pays you. It’s your content, you deserve to call the shots and build a sustainable business.
Never feel constrained by the pressure to follow platform trends again. Using your own VOD lets you create content how you best see fit.
Create new opportunities for yourself — from syndication to strategic partnerships, you get to be in control of your destiny.
As a content creator, the decision is yours: do you want to start cashing in on the rewards that come with having your own VOD streaming platform? Or would you rather continue playing by the rules of others?
Let’s put it another way — would you like to have the success that Noah Wilson has created for himself with a dedicated VOD? Because 1M+ subscribers will mean a LOT more on your own VOD platform (think $2.99/mo per subscriber) than it will on YouTube.
Getting started is a lot easier than you might think — and if you have questions along the way, we’re here to help. To learn more about how Endavo can make VOD work for you and your comprehensive content strategy, click the link below.
6. Frequently Asked Questions about VOD
Curious about VOD? We have answers for your most pressing questions, regardless of whether you’re a content creator looking for answers on how to make a complete content distribution strategy or just a casual VOD streamer wanting to learn more about what powers your Netflixed-induced chilling.
What does VOD mean in streaming?
VOD streaming is where video content (movies, tv shows, etc.) is available for consumers to watch whenever they want. It can be free (like YouTube) or paid (like Netflix). It differs from traditional TV in that there is no broadcast schedule and users can stop, pause, rewind, fast-forward, and rewatch at their leisure.
What does VOD stand for?
VOD stands for Video on Demand.
What does streaming mean?
Streaming is the act of viewing media content on a computer or mobile device through the internet. Streaming means the content doesn’t need to be downloaded onto the device and it doesn’t need to be consumed live. Examples of streaming content include movies, TV shows, podcasts, video game livestreams, and music videos.
How do you get VOD?
For content creators, getting your own dedicated VOD service to share content with your audience is simple — find a platform that can give you complete control over management, distribution, and monetization and sign up or request a demo. Endavo does all this and more. For more info, click below.
For consumers who want to watch VOD content, it’s as simple as signing up for a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or YouTube account and watching on your computer, phone, tablet, or smartTV.
What does VOD on a TV mean?
VOD streaming on a TV typically occurs through an OTT app on Roku, Apple TV, or a smart TV. Examples of OTT apps include Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max. But OTT apps aren’t just for the big players. You can have your own OTT app without coding knowledge or hiring an expensive developer with Endavo!
How do you use VOD?
VOD can be accessed or used on a variety of devices including computer, tablet, smartphone, or smart TV. Most devices have apps to access the VOD streaming service of their choice, while computers usually access them through their internet browsers.
What is a VOD server?
A VOD server is a physical device that stores the information and contents of a VOD platform that can be accessed by users’ devices (TV, computer, smartphone, etc.). All streaming apps and websites require a VOD server in order to work.
Sometimes, VOD servers are part of a larger content distribution network (CDN), though they are typically only used for high traffic streaming across the globe (such as Netflix).