Demystifying OTT

If you’ve ever streamed a movie on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+, congratulations – you’ve just experienced OTT! 

The acronym itself stands for over-the-top and really just refers to the distribution mechanism: watching over the internet as opposed to via broadcast networks. 

What’s far more interesting is the glass-to-glass process: the chain of events that takes place when a piece of content goes from the camera that it’s being filmed on (the “first glass”) to, say, an iPad or a Smart TV (the “last glass”) on which it’s ultimately viewed by audiences. 

In between is the platform you choose to use to manage and display your video assets. And how you decide on that platform is about the level of control you want over the process and the type of relationship you want with your end-users. 

Whether you're a brand, an arts organisation, a sports-rights holder or even a fully-fledged broadcaster, here are some of your options as a potential OTT service-provider:

1. YouTube

On the face of it, YouTube is a simple way to show your videos to a wide audience. It can be as easy as uploading the video, adding metadata (things like the video title, description, cast etc.), defining viewers (public or private) and indicating whether you’re open to YouTube showing ads before, during or after playout. The downside, of course, is that whilst you can access basic analytics about how well your video is doing, your audience is essentially anonymous – you won’t know exactly who is watching and you won’t be able to communicate directly (or individually) with them. 


  • Easy to use
  • Displays your videos to a wide audience
  • Lets you dip your toe in the OTT water


  • Limited customisation
  • Difficult to manage if you have multiple videos that you only want to display for limited periods
  • No end-relationship with viewers

2. Vimeo

If you're willing to pay a monthly fee, and want a little more control over customisation, Vimeo might be worth taking a look at. Although it’s still a relatively basic platform, Vimeo does let you use your brand colours, insert your logo and showcase your content using albums. It also allows you to have up to 10 admin users and integrates with tools like Google Analytics and Mailchimp (assuming you already have accounts set up). And, like YouTube, Vimeo-hosted videos can be embedded into your website or social media. 


  • Decent storage (up to 7TB based on the pricing tier you choose)
  • Lets you publish videos as native posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms
  • Multiple admin users


  • Needs you to have pre-existing accounts with other service-providers to extend the solution
  • Relatively basic customisation only

3. Use Specialist Vendors

Depending on your budget, it’s entirely possible to use external vendors to build and run different parts of the glass-to-glass process for you. You may, for example, choose a specialist scheduling solution which lets you control when, where, and for how long different videos play on individual platforms like Apple TV, Amazon Fire, iOS, Android and Smart TVs. You may deploy a payments solution so that you can charge for subscriptions. You might engage an expert design agency to create your user interface. Or even a CDN – a content distribution network – to ensure that your videos play without delay (low latency) and minimal buffering. 

The big upside in using specialists for each element is that you can custom-fit exactly what the front and backends of your OTT service look like. The big negatives are cost and having the time and manpower to manage all of the different vendors and their software. 

4. Use a professional end-to-end OTT solution like Skylark

We’ve been working with OTT service-providers, big and small, from across a range of verticals, since 2006 and our experience has taught us that where publishing tools were built for written content, video is different. Our Skylark platform is video-first and incorporates all the tools you need now and as you grow. 

Pre-defined data models and pre-integrated partners get you up and running out of the box. You also own your UI giving you complete creative control of your front end. Skylark empowers you to deliver authentic experiences to your users no matter where they are or how they're watching.

You can expand without boundaries and meet the needs of your growing audience at a pace that suits your business. 

Talk to us about your video platform challenges and see what Skylark can do for you.

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