Consumers are cutting the cord at a dizzying pace. Over-the-top (OTT) content delivery apps allow broadcasters and content creators big and small to reach their audiences directly, rather than through traditional cable providers or third-party video streaming services.
If you’re in the video business, you need to make your content available through OTT apps to give viewers what they want to watch, where they want to watch it. In this guide to OTT apps, you’ll learn everything you need to know to set yourself up for OTT video success.
Table of contents:
- What is an OTT app?
- Why OTT apps are important
- Use cases for OTT apps
- How to create an OTT app
- Benefits of using OTT apps
- Types of OTT apps
- How to choose an OTT platform provider
What Is an OTT App?
Before we explain what an OTT app is, we need to explain what OTT means. OTT stands for “over-the-top” content delivery and refers to media that bypasses traditional live TV broadcast methods, like satellite dishes, cable, or antennae.
Viewers access OTT media over the internet via a smart TV, phone, computer, or mobile device. An OTT application, therefore, is an app from which you can access OTT video content.
While Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max are popular examples of over-the-top content publishers with apps, OTT media isn’t limited to entertainment. Fitness class platforms, like the Peloton App, and online course distributors, like MasterClass, also count as OTT media.
Why OTT Apps Are Important
In 2014, the percentage of U.S. households without a traditional TV subscription was 18.8%. By 2022, that figure had grown to a whopping 55%. People are increasingly “cutting the cord” because there are so many alternatives to cable subscriptions. As traditional subscriptions dwindle, OTT apps have risen to the top as more flexible, affordable, faster, and better alternatives.
OTT apps are democratizing who can publish content. Affordable or free over-the-top platforms, like YouTube, have lowered the barrier to entry for broadcasting. As a publisher’s audience size and needs increase, premium OTT platforms like JW Player can deliver professional-quality broadcasting at affordable costs.
These apps are making media more accessible to the masses. Instead of buying or renting clunky hardware, like a satellite dish, or having someone install a cable connection and committing to an expensive contract, viewers just need an internet connection and a device from which to watch media. Although there are subscription-based OTT apps, there are also lots of free offerings out there. OTT apps make media more affordable and easier to consume.
OTT apps give viewers more choices about how and where to watch media: from smart TV OTT apps to browser and mobile apps. Mobile OTT apps are especially important, as more people are streaming content through mobile devices now than ever before.
When your brand or organization broadcasts via several types of OTT apps, audiences can begin their viewing experience on their TV screens and finish watching on a mobile device on their train commute, for example. With more viewing options, audiences can consume more media, more easily.
Use Cases for OTT Apps
If you’re a publisher or organization that creates videos, OTT apps should be part of your business strategy. Get inspired by these sample use cases for OTT apps:
Traditional broadcasters are losing subscribers at unprecedented speeds. Retain audiences by making your TV shows and films available through OTT apps on smart TVs, iOS, Android, and other devices. You can build your brand and grow revenue with a freemium business model.
Influencers and Content Creators
If you’re growing an audience on TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram, OTT apps can help turn your hustle into a multi-revenue stream business. Entice followers with free content on social media, then make premium content available to subscribers via your own white-labeled OTT apps.
Whether your members are still wary of doing classes in-person or your studio is booked solid due to New Year’s resolution-inspired sign ups, OTT apps can help your business reach more customers. With paywalls for videos on demand (VOD) and live streaming classes, your studio can increase revenue through OTT apps. Customers can watch classes on the TV in their living room, or tune in on their phone in a hotel room while on the road .
How to Create an OTT App
If you want to create your own OTT apps, here’s what that process would entail:
- Raise funds for app development. You’ll need between $30,000 and $50,000 per platform. So, if you want to be on six OTT streaming platforms (iOS app, Android app, Android TV, Roku TV, Playstation, and XBox, for example), you will need between $180,000 and $300,000.
- Hire a development team. You can hire in house or outsource production.
- Tell your development team what you’re looking for, and project manage development.
- Three to six months later, you’ll have an app.
- However, your work isn’t over. After your apps launch, you’ll need to maintain them and provide customers with technical support.
As you can see, developing and managing your own OTT apps is expensive and time consuming. A better alternative is to use an existing OTT app provider, like JW Player, and white labeling their technology. By licensing JW Player’s technology, you’ll pay a small percentage of what you would to make OTT apps from scratch and gain access to a top-of-the-line team and ongoing technical support.
Benefits of Using OTT Apps
These are just a few of the many ways in which broadcasters, groups, and businesses can benefit from licensing OTT apps:
OTT providers make it more affordable for publishers and broadcasters to distribute their content. Instead of spending time and money on OTT app development, you can use white-labeled solutions and focus on producing great videos.
By licensing the best OTT apps, you’ll have access to a dedicated team that works on problems and updates for the apps. You’ll spend less time and money fixing things, and have more resources to create online video content your audiences crave.
Thanks to delivery APIs, your internal teams can deliver content across your OTT apps and in-house apps from the same backend. That’s video content at scale.
Video Monetization Options
OTT service providers come with a number of monetization options out of the box. For example, you can generate revenue through a subscription, advertising, pay-per-view, offline video-on-demand playback functionality, and more.
By licensing OTT apps, you’ll be able to offer your customers and audience a more complete solution more easily and quickly. You can give people what they want almost immediately, rather than building apps from scratch over a long period of time.
Streamlined Backend Management
With integrated backend workflows that save time and eliminate errors, you’ll be able to manage, publish, monetize, and analyze your content across your apps with ease in one platform.
Increased Audience Engagement
An OTT app provider like JW Player comes preloaded with premium video viewing experiences that increase engagement. Features like mobile notifications and in-app search drive content discovery to maximize viewing time. When your audience can watch your content on any device, they’ll be able to consume more of it, which will help you reach your business goals.
Control Over the User Experience
White-labled OTT apps put you in the driver’s seat without investing resources into developing your own platforms. You can add your branding and customize the viewing experience to strengthen brand recognition and keep audiences coming back for more.
Reach Consumers Directly
When you don’t have to rely on free video streaming apps, like YouTube, to share content, you’ll be able to reach your audiences directly without competing with other broadcasters and advertisers on the platform.
Types of OTT Apps
Hopefully we’ve convinced you that you need to launch OTT apps and that the smartest way to do this is to license a turnkey solution instead of building apps yourself. Now you’re probably wondering what type of OTT apps are out there and which ones are worth investing in. Here’s an overview of OTT app platforms:
Mobile OTT Apps
iOS and Android are the main mobile operating systems globally, so you should have OTT mobile apps for both. If your audience consists primarily of North American residents, prioritize iOS apps, as they’re more popular than Android in that region. And if your audience is mostly made up of people from elsewhere in the world, prioritize an Android app.
Smart TV OTT Apps
There are so many smart TV providers on the market that have platforms for OTT apps including Android TV, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung TV, and Apple TV. Ideally, you’ll have apps for all of these platforms eventually. However, if you need to prioritize just one to begin with, it should be Roku TV as it’s the most popular OTT platform for smart TVs.
Game Console OTT Apps
Game consoles like Playstation and Xbox have their own platforms for OTT content. If your audience is active in the gaming community, consider adding these apps to your OTT offerings.
Which OTT Apps Should I Launch First?
In an ideal world, you’d make your media available on every possible OTT platform. In the real world, however, resources are limited and you have to make tough decisions. There are a few ways to determine the most strategic OTT apps to prioritize launching.
If it’s available to you, use data to see where your customers are. A low-tech way to do this is to survey your audience. You can even be so direct as to ask how they want to consume your media and which platforms and devices they would use the most to do so. Then, compare your audience’s demographic to global data and user demographics for OTT apps. We’ve shared some examples above.
So, for example, if most of your audience is based outside of the US and they’re active gamers who don’t own televisions, you could prioritize OTT apps for gaming consoles and Android, and forego smart TV apps for the initial launch phase.
How to Choose an OTT Platform Provider
After you’ve decided which OTT platforms you want your videos to be available on, you need to decide which OTT platform provider you’ll partner with to deliver that content. Look for one that:
- Meets your needs. Make a list of must-have features and find a provider that won’t make you compromise. For example, you may want an OTT app provider that offers 24/7 phone support.
- Fits your budget. Unless you have unlimited funding resources, budgetary constraints will be one of the most important factors in narrowing down your provider. Find an OTT platform provider that gives you the most value for your budget.
- Can help you scale. You’re launching OTT apps to grow your audience and business. Your OTT platform provider should support that growth, rather than hinder it, by offering APIs.
- Is accessible for support. Customer support is useless if you have to wait two days for an email response. Look for a provider that offers support how you want it, whenever you want it.
- Constantly improving the product. The best OTT apps constantly improve their platforms. Look for a provider with a good track record of keeping up with the cutting edge.
- Gives you access to customer data. Look for an OTT platform provider that lets you own your audience data, rather than hiding it from you. The more you know about your customers, the more successfully you can meet their expectations and grow your business.
Wrapping Up: OTT Apps Guide
If you want to meet your viewers where they are, you have to make your media accessible through a variety of over-the-top content delivery apps. These apps help you reach a wider audience to meet your business goals. By licensing OTT apps from a turnkey platform provider instead of developing your own from scratch, you can dedicate more resources to creating engaging content for your viewers.