What is the difference between VOD and OTT Streaming

Anna Khrupa by Anna Khrupa on 11/25/2022

What is the difference between VOD and OTT Streaming

Today, there are a considerable number of sites that provide streaming services. Interest in them is overgrowing, but only some users understand the distinction between OTT and VOD. Let’s discuss these two concepts and explain whether they are different. Or has this border been completely erased?

Definition of VOD

Interest in streaming services is growing, especially during the pandemic, when many are forced to suspend their professional activities or start working remotely. While working from home, some people often watch videos in the background, which they previously could not do in the office. Many companies appreciated the benefits of remote work, so they extended this format after the end of the acute phase of the pandemic.

VOD stands for Video on Demand. Before the advent of this technology, people were forced to study the TV guide to know when and on which channel they could watch their favorite movie or TV show. VOD changed the situation radically. Cable providers have added the function of recording programs (for free or for money). VOD service meaning says users can watch their favorite football match in the recording at any time convenient.

Modern VOD streaming service is not limited to cable and can broadcast video over the Internet. In this case, VOD service means you can watch any video on demand, whether on TV or not.

Basic varieties

VODs come in several varieties. Understanding the difference between them is useful for users, developers, and testers.


Different sites offer their customers to pay for a monthly subscription, six months, or a year. Typically, such platforms provide different packages that differ in price, quantity, and quality of content. So, the more expensive the subscription, the more high-quality video and audio files you can get. If you decide to watch movies that are not included in your package of services, the platform may refuse you or ask for an additional fee.

Many users prefer to buy a subscription all at once for a year; in this case, they get a more significant discount compared to purchasing a monthly subscription.


If you want to pay for a VOD broadcast, TVOD platforms are better for you. It is the complete opposite of the previous option. Here, you only pay for the videos you want to watch, and no one asks you to sign up for a paid subscription. Many people think this is a new generation DVD – you choose the movie you want to watch, pay and enjoy the video in good quality.


Thanks to AVOD, you can watch videos for free, but in return, the platforms ask users to watch ads. It can be integrated into the movie itself, or the video can be interrupted by a short commercial (usually 2 clips of 15 seconds each).

If you don’t want to watch ads, you can pay to watch the video or buy a subscription. Among the most popular such services are YouTube and SlingTV.

There is also a mixture of AVOD with other types of VOD. For example, if you agree to watch ads, Netflix is willing to provide an account for a smaller fee. This type of subscription will become available in November this year.

Benefits of such streaming sites

Modern VODs have several significant benefits:

  • Gives you the option to choose content based on your preferences;
  • Allows users to watch and record videos for later review;
  • No need to buy a DVD or download a player.

Even 10 years ago, it was the easiest way to watch your favorite movie or show at any time convenient.

Definition of OTT

OTT platform means “Over-the-Top” – the content provider service goes beyond existing Internet services. The peculiarity of this technology is that you can not only watch video or audio files, but you can also communicate with other people via video communication. Among the companies that provide such services are Skype and WhatsApp. But can you get more out of them?

OTT streaming service allows users to watch their favorite movies, series, or other videos conveniently at any time and place. You can enjoy live streaming using a computer, laptop, phone, tablet, or any other device.

Features of work

Unlike VOD, OTT can only work from the Internet. It is limited to a streaming time that consumers cannot access once the live stream has ended. You do not need to download video and audio files, but you can enjoy them in real time. Some platforms have videos pre-downloaded to the server, ready to provide to their users.

Benefits of OTT services

OTT services have a lot of benefits:

  • Increasing audience engagement;
  • Original content;
  • High-quality video and sound;
  • Instant and smooth playback.

Most users prefer to use OTT platforms because they can get unlimited access to high-quality video and audio files.

VOD and OTT: What is the distinction?

Many are wondering: is Netflix OTT or VOD? It is tricky to answer this since the border between them is very small. Many streaming sites combine VOD and OTT features, making it difficult to understand the two terms. The most significant distinction between the two is the way data is transferred. While OTT is limited to transmitting over the Internet, VOD also uses cable and satellite.

DefinitionContent transmitted over the Internet.Any content that a person can access upon request at any time; content can be transmitted through any channel.
Information transfer methodInternetInternet, cable, or satellite TV
PlaybackDoes not allow playback whenever the user wants.Allows you to play content at any time.
ExamplesLive-streaming, Online live-sports, SkypeCable set-up box, In-flight entertainment
Examples of bothNetflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube

As you can see, VOD is a more versatile technology that allows users to get more content and view it at their convenience. There is also a difference in the way information is transmitted. It is worth saying that today both technologies are actively developing, and there is an increasing trend toward their merger. From the user’s point of view, this difference is not very big, but it is pretty significant for software developers and testers.

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