Difference between VOD and OTT Services

It is easy to think that both Video on Demand (VOD) and Over The Top (OTT) media service are  the same. They both allow you to stream video at your convenience. They can be used as both video and audio streaming platform for multiple devices. Both have free and paid models and are delivered over the Internet. But, even with all these similarities, VOD and OTT are quite different! 

So how are VOD and OTT different? Find out in this guide.

What is Video On Demand Service?

Video on demand, as the name suggests, allows you to watch a video as and when you desire. It is the very opposite of broadcast TV programs. There is no need to wait for the broadcasters’ schedule. Examples of VOD include BBC iPlayer, YouTube, videos on Facebook feed, and OnDemand service on cable set-top boxes.

VOD covers any video that can wait for you to be played. Many cable service providers and new firms now use this service to make videos accessible to the audience. Such videos can be accessed through online streaming, pre-recording, or downloads. 

VOD service allows a user to playback any video content at a time of their preference. These services are a combination of large video content and different media such as music, podcasts, and more. Vimeo and Roku are also examples of such platforms. Such platforms allow you to access any content from their collection at any time. 

VOD services provide you with immediate access to videos. The programs accessible through VOD can include entertainment, sports, featured films, and education videos.  VOD is different from traditional broadcast technology used by television in that it uses unicast transmission. VOD is also used in video conferencing. VOD has become a popular alternative to television. Its prevalence was limited for some time because of the bandwidth limitations in networks. 

This service relies on interactive TV technology that allows you to watch programs in real-time or download to view later. A typically VOD system comprises of a TV receiver and set-top box for the viewer. It is also possible to deliver this service to computer systems, smart mobile devices, and advanced digital media devices. 

There are 2 main categories of VOD:

  • VOD Service: It operates over cable connection for broadcasting
  • VOD Platform: It delivers content over the Internet

Types of VOD Services & Platforms

There are different types of VOD services and platforms. Their key features are as follows:

i. Ad-Supported VOD (AVOD)

  • YouTube is the perfect example of AVOD service
  • This is an ad-based digital service that allows users to watch or access video or media content for free.
  • The revenue model depends on the views received by the ads or what the users spend on the content

ii. Transactional based VOD (TVOD)

  • Purchasing CDs is an example of TVOD
  • This is different from AVOD, as users are required to purchase a content
  • It follows the pay-per-view model

On the other hand, Google Play and iTunes are examples of Transactional OTT services.

iii. Subscription-based VOD (SVOD)

  • SVOD service allows users to access and view the complete media library for the period of subscription that can be recurring. 
  • It allows you to watch any video content on the platform if your subscription is active.
  • Examples of SVOD services include Netflix and Amazon Prime.


See Also: 6 Factors To Consider While Choosing An Online Video Streaming Service


The VOD space may seem to be saturated. However, many major media companies are have just entered this market and are expected to make it even bigger. Apple TV+ and Disney+ are some big examples. HBO Max and NBCU are also entering this segment.

What is Over-The-Top (OTT) Service?

OTT is a service that previously relied on cable or satellite for transmission, but now uses the Internet. It covers a wide range of services that you are using daily. Examples include Netflix, Hulu, Livestreaming, WhatsApp, Skype, and some audio streaming platform. OTT’s prevalence has significantly increased in the area of videos and audio, as it interacts efficiently with VOD. However, there are certain differences between the two.

An excellent example of OTT is a live soccer match that you will be streaming over the Internet. The match is OTT because it is broadcast over the Internet instead and not the satellite. It is not VOD because you don’t have control over the time the match’s video will start. However, if you download the match’s video and watch it later at your own convenience, it will become VOD. You have control over the time when you watch the video.

OTT involves the delivery of videos, TV content, and movies over the Internet. It bypasses the conventional method of distributing content over the cable or satellite. You do not need to subscribe to a satellite TV or cable service as OTT involves direct transmission over the Internet.

OTT service has gained more popularity in the world of entertainment. This is because it can merge with both the world of digital video and television. It is a value-added service and you may already be using it without even knowing it. OTT service is used over the network service provider’s service. This is where it gets its name from. The network service provider doesn’t have control over the OTT service. They don’t have any rights, claims, or responsibilities for the OTT services being provided over their network. The end-user has the flexibility to make use of the internet service as per their preference.

New Developments in OTT Video Content

Over 50% of Americans have subscribed to at least one OTT service. There is increased instance of cable and internet bundling to provide OTT services. Entertaining video and audio streaming platform are the key to the success of OTT services. While entertainment is the most popular streaming categories, fitness and educational content are the next in line. 


See Also: Top 5 Business OTT Video Platforms in 2020


You can choose from hundreds of OTT service providers in the United States. Some of these providers have now launched their own live TV streaming services. This is considered to be a major trend in this segment. Netflix and Hulu were the early players in the area of television and film streaming. But there have been new service providers in this category that are taking the service forward. Such examples include:

  • YouTube TV
  • Sling TV
  • DirectTVNow

Some of the interesting points about OTT services are as follows:

  • You can watch video on OTT streaming services without any commercials by choosing a premium subscription plan
  • OTT services are widely popular because of the lack of commercials
  • There are no interruptions and you don’t have to waste time watching commercials
  • Subscriptions don’t need to be limited to a single service provider
  • You can simultaneously subscribe to different services including Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu
  • OTT subscriptions are typically affordable, allowing you to access vast libraries of shows that are free from commercials

Direct Comparison

The following comparison of OTT and VOD services in different areas can provide you with in-depth insights:

  • Service: OTT is related to a service or a product, but VOD is related only to presentations and videos.
  • Channels: OTT provides a wide range of channels that can be viewed. When it comes to VOD, you can view only selected videos. VOD is usually a premium service.
  • Platform: OTT can provide video streaming. VOD favors on-demand video portals and broadcasters.
  • Quality: OTT is a more professional service in the management, monetization, and distribution of video content. VOD typically gives you an uncompromised video experience.
  • Speed: OTT is typically faster compared to VOD. With VOD, there can be drop-in video quality because you have to download the video file. The video may also suffer from buffering delays.
  • Security: OTT can deliver content over mobile devices and connected devices. VOD can work over multiple devices and is secured over the internet. 


See Also: Top 10 Leading OTT Trends In 2020


Despite all these differences, voice on demand is often referred to as OTT. This may be true in some cases.  VOD can be broken into two main types. The first one requires you to pay for conventional TV. The second one doesn’t and it is OTT. So OTT is actually a subset of VOD. It gets transmitted over the Internet without the need for a subscription to conventional satellite or cable pay-TV services. On-demand streaming is a big way in which OTT differs from other forms of streaming video. It provides users with continuous and easy-to-access video content. On the other hand, conventional TV gives you two options – watch content at a specific time or record the shows.

When compared to downloading, OTT video streaming can have some advantages. Downloading is a popular method of online video consumption. You can get access to a larger volume of OTT content as compared to downloading, for the same price. You can view OTT content on any device without wasting any download time. It also saves you storage space on your device.

OTT technology has made accessibility possible on almost all devices. This means that the consumption of OTT content will continue to grow at a staggering rate. If you are in the video industry, it is essential to know about the differences between VOD and OTT. Unless your processes are solely OTT and rely on scheduled broadcasting, these terms can be interchanged to some extent. The influence of these services also extends over to the audio streaming platform.