Back to the Basics: Understanding The OTT LandscapeBlog / 11.08.2022
OTT stands for "over the top." This term is used to describe video or audio content that is delivered over the internet without the involvement of a traditional cable or satellite TV provider. The growth of OTT streaming services has been impressive in recent years. According to a report by Parks Associates, more than 85% of American millennials subscribed to at least one video OTT service as of just a few years ago. Furthermore, there has been a surge in the number of OTT providers, which propelled the expansion of the industry. These providers are already shifting the landscape of all television viewership. Nielsen recently reported that fully 36.9% of all TV usage was through streaming platforms, surpassing cable. This post will explore the OTT landscape and reports on some of the key trends in today’s OTT market.
The big names in the OTT space are well-known brands that have a wide variety of content. Netflix is perhaps the most widely known among these, and these OTT providers offer a mix of original and licensed content that typically target the general audience. For example, Netflix is known for its large library of movies and TV shows, including many originals such as Stranger Things and The Crown. Hulu offers a mix of live and on-demand TV, along with original programs such as The Handmaid's Tale. Disney+ offers an expanded selection of titles for adults and children alike, making it one of the few platforms to provide niche content (Star Wars, The Simpsons) and general interest content alike.
Meanwhile, big players that have not been in the streaming industry entered the space as well. Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world, has grown its video streaming service significantly in recent years. Much of the content available is free to watch for Amazon Prime subscribers. This had a remarkable impact in expanding the OTT video business. Apple is also a non-traditional company with OTT services, with Apple+ and Apple Music being a must for many iPhone users.
While the big names offer a wide variety of content, they don't always have specific niche offerings. That's where the niche and specialized OTT providers come in. These providers offer content that is targeted at a specific audience or interests. For example, fuboTV's focus is on live sports while Crunchyroll specializes in anime. Shudder is a horror-focused streaming service with both movies and TV shows.
The type of content offered by these OTT providers varies widely. Interestingly, this has prompted consumers to subscribe to multiple providers at once, as opposed to choosing one service over the other.
In addition to the big names and niche players, sports leagues and teams entered the OTT landscape in a big way. From MLB.TV to NBA League Pass, leagues have launched apps and channels for out-of-market viewers dedicated to enhancing the fan experience through on-demand content and alternate broadcasts. Some of the platforms mentioned above have handed out massive licensing fees for the right to broadcast Thursday Night Football (Amazon Prime) and Friday Night Baseball (Apple+). The abundance of leagues, teams, games, and fanbases gives rise to a nearly endless sea of OTT sports channels to serve a near-insatiable appetite for sports content.
OTT providers use a variety of revenue models to fund their operations. The most common are advertising, subscriptions, and in-app placements.
Advertising is the most common revenue model for OTT providers. This model relies on selling ad space to brands that want to reach the provider's audience. The amount of money that an OTT provider can charge for advertising depends on the size of its audience and the demographics of its users.
Subscriptions are another common revenue model for OTT providers. In this model, users pay a monthly or annual fee to access the provider's content. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video all use this model.
In-app placements are a less common revenue model, but one that is growing in popularity. In this model, OTT providers sell space within their apps to other brands. These brands can use this space to promote their own products or services.
Hybrid models are also becoming more common. In a hybrid model, an OTT provider combines two or more of the above revenue models. For example, a provider may offer a subscription service with an option to view ads. Or a provider may offer a free, ad-supported service with the option to upgrade to a subscription that does not include ads.
OTT is definitely a global trend. In fact, Statista expects the number of OTT Video users to be 4.3 billion by 2027. Fueled by the increasing variety of content and channels to watch from, user penetration for the US market is expected to be 90% by then. While the United States currently has the biggest share of the OTT market, one study by Research and Markets reports that the Asia-Pacific region is expected to see rapid growth in the coming years as well. According to this study, Asia Pacific countries will see a 62% increase in OTT revenues by 2027, totaling $52 billion. This is a boost from the $32 billion recorded just six years prior in 2021.
There are a handful of major players in the global OTT market. As mentioned earlier, Netflix is one of the largest players, with over 220 million subscribers as of 2022. Hulu has 46 million subscribers and Amazon Prime Video has given access to at least 200 million Prime subscribers. CBC recently reported on how Disney+ added 14 million more users to surpass Netflix with a whopping 221 million subscriber count. Other notable providers include Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Quibi. While these are all popular names in the global OTT market, there are many other providers that cater to specific audiences as mentioned earlier. Often the audience is segmented by region, age, or a particular niche like sports.
The global OTT market is predicted to reach USD 139 billion by 2028, as stated by Fortune Business Insights. This is a growth from USD 39 billion in 2020. North America is the largest OTT market, followed by Western Europe and Asia-Pacific. Considering the significant growth in revenue for OTT companies, it's no question that other brands are tapping into the industry to engage with their audience.
What’s next for OTT?
The global OTT market is growing rapidly, with one study showing more than 300 OTT providers to choose from for Americans. This growth is being driven by the increasing availability of high-speed internet, the proliferation of portable devices, and the rising popularity of streaming content. In the coming years, we can expect to see a continued increase in the amount of original and exclusive content being produced by OTT providers.
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