11 May Let Us Define Over-The-Top Content and VOD Programming
We humans love our acronyms: LOL, DIY, FAQ, OMG, TBA
It’s actually a bit overwhelming, and ICYMI, the world of digital content has no shortage of technical terminology and acronyms, too. While we could write volumes on the multitude of jargon out there, we want to focus on two specific terms you’re likely to encounter as trends in technology move towards the need for gigabit Internet service. And if you’re still asking yourself “what kind of internet connection do I need…” it would be beneficial to have a better understanding of the following two content-related terms:
Over-the-top, or OTT, content refers to audio, video and other data being transmitted over the Internet without going through an entity that operates multiple cable or direct-broadcast TV systems (Skype is a great example). OTT content providers are categorized into three groups:
- Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) *Bonus acronym!
- Broadcast television stations
- Online Video Distributors (OVDs) *Another bonus!
A broadcast television station is pretty self-explanatory, but what about the other two?
Well, an MVPD is defined by the FCC as “any entity such as, but not limited to, a cable operator, a multichannel multipoint distribution service, a direct broadcast satellite service, or a television receive-only satellite program distributor, who makes available for purchase, by subscribers or customers, multiple channels of video programming.” Basically, MVPDs offer hundreds of linear channels (channels that show specific programs on specific days and at specific times), and thousands of non-linear channels like video on demand (we’ll get to this below) programs, as well as pay per view (PPV) channels.
The FCC defines an OVD as “any entity that provides video programming by means of the Internet or other Internet Protocol (IP)-based transmission path where the transmission path is provided by a person other than the OVD. An OVD does not include an MVPD inside its MVPD footprint or an MVPD to the extent it is offering online video programming as a component of an MVPD subscription to customers whose homes are inside its MVPD footprint.”
We agree that definition doesn’t make the term any less confusing, so we choose to simplify it to mean “YouTube and sites like YouTube.”
Video On Demand (VOD)
Video on demand, or VOD, is a little more commonplace. It’s simply defined as content that is selected by viewers to be watched when and where they want. VOD allows users to watch programs outside of normal broadcast times. That means you don’t have to worry if you missed the latest episode of The Walking Dead or if you have to work during game 7 of the world series — the content will be there waiting for you when you want it.
There is also what’s known as “transactional” VOD, whereby users actually purchase the content they want to watch, either permanently or by renting for a period of time. Amazon Instant Video is a good example of this type of VOD.
More acronyms require faster Internet
So why are technical terms like this so important for folks who are shopping around for (or looking to get more out of…) their next Internet provider?
They all depend on unlimited, high-speed internet. All of the examples provided can be accessed on multiple devices, from smartphones to smart TVs, and they all require Internet data usage. Ensuring you have the fastest connection available will guarantee all of your content is transferred smoothly and without interruptions.
Keep in mind virtually all of the OTT and VOD sources out there are not going to be provided by your actual Internet service provider (ISP) (*One more acronym for the road!) A fiber Internet connection can help you leverage those services more efficiently, and as we’ve already discussed in a previous article, can provide a lot of incentive for severing ties with your cable TV provider.
That puts a little extra cash in your pocket, and cash is good, IMHO 😉