Media & Entertainment Industry Trends, Technology and Research

#2 Concept Series : What is the Difference between OTT and IPTV

Posted In Media Concepts, New Media - By Nitin Narang on Friday, April 19th, 2013 With 2 Comments

Is OTT better than IPTV, will OTT replace IPTV has been some of the long pending debates. At an onset it is unfair to compare OTT with IPTV since there exists more dissimilarities that what meets the eye.  IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) and OTT (Over the Top) although share key commonality of using internet as the content delivery mechanism but outside that they are widely different i.e. business model, quality of service, quality of content, ownership, cost etc. OTT streaming is the delivery of audio/video content using regular / open / unmanaged Internet and unlike IPTV, there is no dedicated network or infrastructure provided by the operator. Last few years have seen OTT  gaining widespread popularity with large number of relatively low cost service providers like Netflix, Hulu etc. offering video on demand services gaining large market share and widespread consumer loyalty and subscription. Below are some the key differences

Comparison Category OTT ( Over the Top) IPTV ( Internet Protocol TV)
Content Delivery Uses open internet, un-managed network. Open ecosystemUses dedicated, managed network. Walled garden ecosystem
Network Type Delivered from content provider / aggregator to the viewer using open network. Usage of CDNClosed, proprietary network, accessed via a specific internet service provider
Network Relationship Without the need for intervening carriage negotiations, or infrastructure investmentsServices are delivered on optimized and custom high bandwidth network
Quality of Service (QOS) Not guaranteed, works under best effort conditionsHigh quality, reliable network with control over quality of services
Service Examples Popular Video on Demand services like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon LoveFilm, Hulu, Sky Go, BBC iPlayer etc.IPTV services like U-Verse (AT&T), Prism TV (CenturyLink)
Delivery Protocol Delivered over HTTP / TCP, a connected transport protocol. Movement towards adaptive streaming technologies HLS (Apple), Smooth Streaming (MS) and HDS (Adobe)IPTV uses Transport Stream (TS) transmission technology. Uses RTP (Real time protocol) over UDP, a connectionless protocol
Content CatalogWidely used for freemium and economical subscription VODUsed primarily for premium VOD and real time content delivery like broadcast TV
Content Type Typically not premium in nature due to security, absence of DRMPremium content
Routing Topology Unicast (HTTP), Simulated Multicast (UDP/TCP)Multicast. Initial unicast burst during channel change leading to Multicast join
Service Category Complementary ServiceMain service, similar to Satellite/Cable TV services
Major Platform Players OVP (Online Video Platforms) like Kaltura, Brightcove, CDN Players like Akamai, L3, Limelight, Cloud Service Providers like AmazonTSP ( Telecom Service Providers) and IPTV platform vendors - Microsoft Mediaroom ( now Ericsson) , ALU, Cisco
Key Challenges Low quality of service, absence of live broadcast, non premium content, unicast delivery modelExpensive, Heavy investment in Bandwidth and infrastructure
Key Benefits Low cost, flexible model, Easy to manage and operateHigh quality of service and quality of experience. Monitoring and control, interactive services

Over the Top content delivery has enabled many new non traditional players to  enter, establish and compete with traditional players namely CSPs and TSPs .  Although OTT service has gained significant subscribers it is still limited by quality and catalog of content offered and remains as a complementary services to regular cable.  Today OTT is not competent enough to disrupt or replace the incumbent service providers but future holds great potential.

OTT providers have the advantage of providing cheaper service model without having to make the heavy investments associated with CSPs and telcos TV by harnessing revenues models leveraging existing networks.  OTT has provided major boast towards cost saving, convinience, greater choice, freedom and empowerment to users. OTT has also been instrumental in driving multi screen, multi platform content convergence as well as greater role for content owners/providers to have direct relationship with end consumers

About - Digital Media Technology Consultant. I have passion for TV technology, digital convergence and changing face of Media and Entertainment industry.

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  1. Excellent writeup and valuable suggestions! IPTV and OTT Platforms
    are two faces of the same coin. They constitute the modern age of
    Revolution in the way we operate, manage and experience multimedia