VOD Streaming Versus Live Streaming Versus OTT: The Modern Video Economy

vod streaming

What Is VOD Streaming?

VOD refers to click-to-play video you can access without the limitations of a broadcasting schedule. Today, VOD typically means content the creator transmits to viewers through live-streaming video on internet-connected devices. However, it’s common to also refer to recorded content and downloaded files, which can be viewed on demand, as VOD content. Additionally, VOD content, after being recorded, is usually edited for a better viewer experience before being made available for on-demand access. This editing gives VOD a unique advantage of flexibility in production and post-production editing.

VOD has gained momentum in recent years. Increasingly, consumers prefer to watch video on personal and mobile devices. Since cinemas were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many potential cinema blockbusters went directly to VOD so that viewers could stream the movie of their choice on demand in the safety of their homes.

Notably, VOD content is generally edited before it reaches the viewer, offering producers more flexibility in terms of production and post-production enhancements. This is contrasted by live streaming where the opportunity for editing is minimal or non-existent.

Industries beyond entertainment and media are leveraging VOD. For example, doctors-in-training now watch VOD streams of surgeries to gain more knowledge and sharpen their skills. Likewise, enterprises hold events such as customer-education and employee-training classes through on-demand streaming.

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vod vs live stream vs ott

VOD Versus Live Streaming

A live stream is recorded video that is transmitted in real time via the internet. Since the content is not on demand at the time of recording, the stream is recorded and transmitted simultaneously.

The distinction in editing and production flexibility is notable here. VOD offers more latitude, allowing for post-production enhancements. Conversely, live streaming demands a more complex technical setup, and once the content is live-streamed, there’s nearly no opportunity for editing.

Once the stream is complete, you can upload it to a site such as YouTube or Twitch, which viewers can access as a video-on-demand. Remember that not all VODs started as live-streamed videos and that not all streams will become VODs. Despite the overlap between VOD and live streaming, they remain distinct processes.

For instance, on platforms like Twitch, a VOD is essentially an archive of content that was previously streamed live. These VODs can play a pivotal role in growing a channel, allowing viewers to catch up on content they might have missed during the live broadcast. This growth and channel-building aspect of VODs is crucial for content creators looking to expand their audience base.

VOD is videos that can be accessed on viewer request. Unlike live streaming, VODs are prerecorded programs. With VOD, viewers can watch content they enjoy as frequently as they like. They can also pause, rewind, and view additional content that was not previously available. Specific platforms, like Twitch, utilize VODs to archive content that was once streamed live, making it beneficial for channels to expand their reach and allow viewers to catch up on missed content.

VOD is convenient since it can be accessed any time, so are streams due to the potential for live interactions.

Related content: Preparing Live Streams for VOD

VOD Versus Over-the-Top Services (OTT)

OTT refers to platforms and technology that permit video streaming via the internet with direct delivery of video content to viewers, bypassing traditional media channels like cable TV and broadcasting stations.

Besides video streaming; OTT also works for VoIP and audio calls. All OTT needs is a reliable Internet connection.

OTT is a valuable model of content delivery for general business purposes and entertainment providers. Because its video delivery costs less than traditional broadcasting, OTT has become popular among companies and viewers alike.

OTT offers the following benefits:

  • Customer-centric, multitiered pricing plans
  • The ability to view videos anywhere, any time
  • Smooth user experience over devices
  • Real-time customer data and audience metrics
  • Minimal disturbances in content delivery
  • Improved content segmentation

Here’s a frequently asked question: What is the difference between OTT and VOD? OTT technology is currently one driving force behind the popularity of VOD. Despite their similarities, however, OTT and VOD have technical differences:

  • OTT determines how the content is delivered to viewers by providing the technology behind the actual distribution.
  • VOD is a way of describing how viewers consume content.

Thus, VOD is a consumption framework; OTT, a distribution framework. Viewers can watch both live streams and VOD on OTT platforms.

Tips for Selecting a VOD Streaming Service

Many consumer-oriented social media and video-hosting services don’t meet the requirements of organizations and large-volume broadcasters. To offer a complete online content experience, broadcasters should opt for business-grade platforms for these reasons:

  • White label streaming — Use your colors, images, and logos to make your brand stand out from the competition. Content is shown ad free with no interruptions.
  • API and SDK access — Integrate your current workflows or develop your own OTT platform and mobile application from the very beginning.
  • Multi User access — Offer user permissions and custom access controls within your organization and for all audiences. Leverage built-in safety features to ensure that only your intended audience can see or share the content.
  • Recording of live streams — If you’re streaming live content and wish to make it available as VOD later, you can convert the live stream by opening the “Live-to-VOD” tab on your stream dashboard, entering the stream name, clicking “Create Pre-recorded Stream”, and then finishing the setup for the Pre-recorded stream.
  • Recording of live streams — Capture events as they take place and automatically store them in your VOD library. Organize your CMS with filters and tags to improve functionality and search options.
  • Scalable content delivery — Offer an optimized experience through content delivery networks (CDN) and enable viewing on a wide range of devices.

VOD Streaming and OTT Monetization Models

Video on Demand (VOD) streaming has emerged as a dominant force, revolutionizing how audiences access and engage with content. Various monetization models have evolved, with  Over-the-Top (OTT) monetization stranding out as the most popular implementation.

1. Advertising Video on Demand 

Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD) operates on the principle of providing content to viewers for free, with revenue generated through advertising. Platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo follow this model, offering a vast array of content at no direct cost to the viewer. Instead, advertisements are strategically integrated into the viewing experience, generating revenue for the platform.

For content creators, AVOD presents an opportunity to reach a broad audience without imposing direct fees on viewers. However, success in this model often hinges on factors such as ad engagement, viewer retention, and the platform’s ability to effectively monetize content through targeted advertising.

The key challenge with AVOD lies in striking the right balance between ad frequency and user experience. Overloading viewers with advertisements can lead to frustration and disengagement, ultimately impacting revenue. Thus, platforms must employ sophisticated algorithms and user data analytics to optimize ad placement and enhance the overall viewing experience.

2. Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD)

SVOD, epitomized by platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, operates on a subscription-based model, wherein viewers pay a recurring fee for access to a library of content. This model offers subscribers unparalleled flexibility, allowing them to binge-watch their favorite shows and movies without interruption from ads.

From a business standpoint, SVOD offers a predictable revenue stream, enabling platforms to invest in high-quality original content and enhance user experience. Moreover, the absence of ads eliminates potential friction points for viewers, fostering a seamless and immersive viewing environment.

However, the success of SVOD hinges on factors such as content diversity, pricing strategy, and subscriber retention. With an ever-expanding landscape of competing services, platforms must continuously innovate and differentiate themselves to attract and retain subscribers effectively.

3. Transactional Video on Demand

Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD) represents a pay-per-view model, wherein viewers pay a fee to access specific content on-demand. Platforms like iTunes, Google Play Movies, and Vudu exemplify this model, offering a vast catalog of movies and TV shows available for individual purchase or rental.

From a consumer perspective, TVOD provides immediate access to premium content without the commitment of a subscription. This flexibility appeals to occasional viewers or those interested in specific titles, allowing them to tailor their viewing experience according to their preferences.

For content creators and distributors, TVOD presents an additional revenue stream, particularly for new releases or niche content that may not fit within the subscription model. However, success in TVOD often relies on effective marketing and pricing strategies to entice viewers to make individual purchases or rentals.

VOD Streaming With Cloudinary

VOD is also called simulated live streaming, meaning that you can stream a previously recorded video or event at a set time as if it was happening live. This capability works great for webinars or seminars that must be prerecorded in advance. To achieve that with Cloudinary, do either of the following, depending on your use case and infrastructure:

With Cloudinary’s robust and masterful APIs, you can more efficiently and effectively manage and redistribute content, automating what many people assume must be done manually. Do try out the features by first signing up for a free account.

In the realm of devices for accessing VOD, a variety of platforms can be utilized. From Smart TVs and Rokus to gaming consoles like Xbox, there is an expansive range of options. Additionally, when thinking of online streaming sites, platforms like Hulu and Netflix emerge as top choices for viewers wanting to access VOD content.

Last updated: Apr 15, 2024