Browse Definitions :
Reference

What's the difference between pay TV, over-the-top (OTT) TV and over-the-air (OTA) TV?

Over-the-top (OTT) and pay TV are two business models that allow consumers to subscribe to television content. Pay TV, which is generally more expensive, typically bundles content and requires the user to lease a proprietary coaxial cable or satellite dish network set-top box. In contrast, OTT content is delivered through a proprietary content delivery network (CDN) over the public internet.

Unlike over-the-air (OTA) TV signals which can be accessed freely by using an antenna, Pay TV signals are encrypted to prevent theft of services. Each proprietary set-top box issued by a cable or satellite company contains a tuner that can receive the provider’s encrypted digital television (DTV) signals and translate them into a format the television understands. Firmware in the set-top box determines what signals the customer can decrypt by referencing which entitlements have been granted through the customer’s subscription.

Over-the-top (OTT) content, services or applications from third-party content delivery services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube or Hulu do not require the assistance of a set-top box because they are delivered over the public internet. Depending upon the service level, the content may be freely available or it may be encrypted to prevent theft of services. Some OTT content providers, like YouTube, include ads with their free content to bring in revenue, while other providers use a subscription and/or pay-per-view revenue model. Customers who do not have internet-capable TV can purchase video streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or Google Chromecast to access and display internet content on an older TV screen.

OTT content delivery allows customers to cut the cord and view content in a more mobile and on-demand manner. Competition among and between Pay TV and OTT providers has resulted in a wider range of user choices and a transformation in how to access content. Take, for example, a customer who likes to watch a specific TV show that's broadcast once a week on a certain network. A cable provider might bundle that network with hundreds of other networks and charge the customer accordingly. However, with OTT content delivery, the customer might be able to download an app for the preferred network and binge-watch the entire television series, only paying for internet access.

The increasing availability of public Wi-Fi and unlimited wireless data plans has also helped bolster the growth of OTT providers and services. This has challenged traditional content and service providers with finding ways to stay relevant or risk losing customers. For example, HBO launched its own video streaming service called HBO Now that lets customers view HBO shows without a cable subscription.

This was last updated in July 2018
SearchNetworking
  • cloud-native network function (CNF)

    A cloud-native network function (CNF) is a service that performs network duties in software, as opposed to purpose-built hardware.

  • microsegmentation

    Microsegmentation is a security technique that splits a network into definable zones and uses policies to dictate how data and ...

  • Wi-Fi 6E

    Wi-Fi 6E is one variant of the 802.11ax standard.

SearchSecurity
  • MICR (magnetic ink character recognition)

    MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) is a technology invented in the 1950s that's used to verify the legitimacy or ...

  • What is cybersecurity?

    Cybersecurity is the protection of internet-connected systems such as hardware, software and data from cyberthreats.

  • Android System WebView

    Android System WebView is a system component for the Android operating system (OS) that allows Android apps to display web ...

SearchCIO
  • privacy compliance

    Privacy compliance is a company's accordance with established personal information protection guidelines, specifications or ...

  • contingent workforce

    A contingent workforce is a labor pool whose members are hired by an organization on an on-demand basis.

  • product development (new product development -- NPD)

    Product development, also called new product management, is a series of steps that includes the conceptualization, design, ...

SearchHRSoftware
  • talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is the strategic process employers use to analyze their long-term talent needs in the context of business ...

  • employee retention

    Employee retention is the organizational goal of keeping productive and talented workers and reducing turnover by fostering a ...

  • hybrid work model

    A hybrid work model is a workforce structure that includes employees who work remotely and those who work on site, in a company's...

SearchCustomerExperience
  • Salesforce Trailhead

    Salesforce Trailhead is a series of online tutorials that coach beginner and intermediate developers who need to learn how to ...

  • Salesforce

    Salesforce, Inc. is a cloud computing and social enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider based in San Francisco.

  • data clean room

    A data clean room is a technology service that helps content platforms keep first person user data private when interacting with ...

Close