Enterprise Video: IPTV vs OTT
Both IPTV and OTT are common terms in video streaming. This makes sense, as they are both common means of delivering content to end users. However, they are not the same thing, and often are used in different circumstances. This can lead to confusion for organizations when looking for a video streaming solution.
Between IPTV and OTT, which is the best for your organization? In this blog, we’re going to explore what IPTV and OTT are, their main differences, and how each can benefit your enterprise.
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What is IPTV?
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) delivers video and audio content over a managed computer network based on the Internet protocol (IP). This can include a private local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), or a managed service provider network.
Because managed networks can support multicast streaming, a single video source can be shared with all viewers on that same network making it fairly simple to managed bandwidth utilization. However, when a person is away from their desk and on the road, they may need to view content via OTT.
What is OTT?
Over-the-top content (OTT) is television or video transmitted as a standalone product via the Internet. OTT providers deliver video content, live or on-demand, over the internet, as opposed to a traditional cable or satellite TV service. OTT streaming is also used by organizations who want to share internal video content with employees on the road or to customers viewing from a desktop or mobile device.
Because the internet does not support multicast streaming, each OTT viewer needs to establish a unique connection in unicast mode with the server, commonly called an origin server, providing the video content. Because each OTT viewer may use a different type of device, smartphone, PC, or tablet, and experience fluctuating levels of network bandwidth, they will also need to use a video player supporting ABR (Adaptive Bit Rate) technology in order to dynamically switch between parallel streams with different levels of video quality. Newer web browsers that support HTML5 can also display OTT video.
What are the differences?
There are two main differences that set OTT and IPTV apart – network and content.
Network: open vs closed
The biggest difference between OTT and IPTV is the network. OTT content is usually delivered over an open network, the internet, while IPTV is delivered over a closed, proprietary network such as a LAN or WAN.
OTT, by using open internet, works without needing to invest in additional network infrastructure, and in many cases, requires no changes to existing network setups. IPTV however, does require these investments to ensure picture quality without effecting other network functions. However, IPTV’s closed network comes with a set of benefits: it is reliable, maintains a high quality of service, and is far easier to monitor.
Content: freemium vs premium
The second large difference between IPTV and OTT is the content that users usually watch on each. OTT tends to offer content over “freemium” subscription services. Some examples of popular names in OTT include Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube. IPTV is much closer to traditional television subscriptions, with live TV broadcast available, as well as premium VOD content in certain cases.
IPTV tends to be quite popular in situations where a team would like access to live news coverage, whether for financial trading teams or a press room. It is also very useful in distributing corporate content within a network, such as on shared monitors and computers on the same office network. However, for devices outside of that network, viewers will need to watch over OTT.
Which to choose: IPTV or OTT?
Whether your organization chooses to use IPTV or OTT depends largely on what you’re looking for in your content delivery for your team. OTT is generally considered a more economical and flexible solution, but it comes at the cost of being challenging to scale, and is not always reliable in terms of quality. IPTV, which is far nearer to a traditional broadcast television subscription, provides a much higher quality of service with easy monitoring for your team.
In the office, IPTV shines as a way of sharing news and weather reports in common areas, while allowing for central monitoring and quality control. However, when trying to connect with remote team members, OTT is a flexible solution to allow your team to access corporate content while balancing quality and bandwidth use.