The Best VOD Platform Providers: Features, Cost, Monetization
May 15, 2023 • Sports OTT, vod platfom, OTT
The global entertainment industry has been grappling with constant disruption over the past decade. The competition for viewers’ attention and spends, ad revenue and more remains intense, with new options emerging every day.
But for all the turmoil, one trend has remained constant. Traditional media continues to fight for relevance as VOD platform providers bring attractive and affordable streaming video services. This has not only enabled a growing number of “cord-cutters” who cancel their traditional media subscriptions but has also given rise to a new breed of “cord-nevers” who never became traditional TV customers at all. As a result, VOD penetration is projected to be 21% globally in 2023, with an expected 24.2% penetration by 2027.
Let us dive into what a VOD platform is and what goes into making the best one ever.
What is a VOD platform?
A VOD platform is a service that provides access to a range of content, including movies, web series, sports live streams, and other genres and content on demand, via the internet.
Users enjoy VOD access on a range of devices, including smart TVs, streaming devices, smartphones, and tablets, making it easy for them to watch their favorite content wherever and whenever they want.
No more couch surfing! VOD viewers take their entertainment everywhere – to the gym, to their commutes, and sometimes, though not recommended, to work too!
How does Video On Demand work?
Video on demand (VOD) allows viewers to access and watch video content at their convenience. That’s the foundational premise.
Here’s what a typical VOD workflow looks like:
- Content in digital format is uploaded onto a cloud-based server from where it is made available on demand. A major platform like Netflix or a VOD platform provider ViewLift, has CDN superpowers. This translates to a global network of servers for low-latency delivery everywhere, regardless of the viewers’ internet bandwidth or the creators’ content resolution and size.
- The video is then encoded for easy distribution across diverse devices and internet connections. Video encoding optimizes the video quality, size, and compatibility for online streaming.
- Users can watch the video instantly and have playback controls that allow them to pause, rewind, fast-forward, or stop the video as they wish.
- Depending on the VOD platform provider and monetization strategy, users may need to pay for access to the content. Monetization typically happens through diverse models like SVOD, AVOD, TVOD, or pay-per-view. Sometimes, it combines two or more models, known as a hybrid monetization strategy.
What benefits do the best VOD platforms provide?
A sound VOD viewing experience and a profitable VOD business require top-of-the-line VOD platform providers. So if you’re in the market looking for the best VOD platform provider, make sure you’re getting the following benefits in the bargain.
1. Viewing convenience
Viewers should be able to search through your vast library of content using keywords for discovery and instantly viewing the content of their choice. No navigation through menus or skimming through channels. That’s for the linear TV era; your viewers have moved past it. Rapid stream delivery, using a combination of technology like CDNs, adaptive bitrate streaming, and video compression, ensures viewers’ searches are generated and available for viewing in seconds.
Viewers should have complete control over when and where they watch content. Unlike traditional broadcast television, VOD is not limited by broadcasting schedules or, in most cases, even geographical restrictions, nor is it restricted to any one device like the family room TV. Your VOD platform should be accessible from smart TV, smartphone, tab, or even a gaming console.
Another advantage is the level of control viewers demand over their viewing experience. They should be able to easily pause, play, rewind, fast forward, and adjust the video speed at their convenience.
2. Sharing restrictions for creator protection
Videos should be shareable with predetermined audiences using DRM technology and technologies like user authentication or device identification.
Subscribers should access content on one or limited devices as per their subscription plan.
For licensed content with geographical restrictions, your VOD services should also be restricted with geo-restrictions, using IP address blocking, among other techniques, to limit content access based on the user’s location.
3. Expansive reach for a broader viewer base
DTC VOD platforms have enabled content owners to break the domination earlier held by a few big broadcasters. They can now distribute content directly to viewers without restrictive licensing arrangements or partnerships.
There is no limitation due to the difference in time zones nor the clash of broadcast schedules with the viewers’ plans. Instead, VOD platforms offer flexibility, and that’s precisely what your viewers demand.
VOD platforms also offer content owners the ease of reaching out to audiences around the globe, coupled with the facility for viewers to consume content at their convenient time, place and pace, increasing reach and, subsequently, profitability.
4. Content variety for improved viewer engagement
Video-on-demand platform providers offer a much more comprehensive range of content acquired under licensing arrangements. Formats and genres include movies, shows, sports, documentaries, and others.
Netflix, the gold standard of VOD platforms, also offers original content like the popular “Stranger Things” and “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel” in addition to licensed content. VOD platforms using the right tech stacks have data and AI superpowers to analyze viewer preferences and not only recommend content that every viewer would like but also build empirical content strategy and partnerships based on real world viewer insights and preferences.
5. Navigation for top-of-the-line usage and adoption
Chapter markers on VOD platforms allow viewers to navigate to specific parts of the video they are interested in without having to run through the timeline manually. The chapter marker functionality also provides an overview of the content and can be helpful for longer videos or educational content where users may like to revisit specific sections.
And this is just scratching the surface of possibilities for a pleasing navigation experience and higher adoption and usage for VOD platforms using sound tech stacks built for excellent UX.
6. Compatibility with large-size content
VOD players typically use video compression for the large content sizes required for HD viewing without buffering or lag.
HTML5 and HLS formats ensure that the content can be accessed on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.
Pre-caching of content in the background allows instant start-up when users click on their preferred content.
7. Viewership metrics
VOD analytics provide valuable insights into viewer behavior and how viewers engage with content. These metrics and in-depth insights allow content providers to make informed decisions at the granular viewer level and the larger content strategy. Some crucial metrics include:
- Viewership metrics: These metrics include the number of views, unique views, and completion rates and can even give insights at what point viewers stopped watching, also known as user drop-off.
- Demographic metrics: Metrics like age, gender, location, and language preferences can help tailor content to specific audiences or create targeted marketing campaigns for content most likely to work with particular audiences.
- Engagement metrics: Metrics like watch time, click-through rates, and social engagement with comments and shares help identify which content has high engagement rates and which does not resonate well with viewers.
- Conversion metrics: These metrics include the number of subscriptions, purchases, or other actions taken by viewers as a result of watching content.
8. Affordable ad insertions for high ROI ad revenue
VOD platforms allow advertisers to target specific audiences without limitations on time zones, geographies, or broadcast schedules. In contrast, with traditional TV, the advertisers have to compete for limited primetime spots during popular shows or events, rendering TV ads expensive and, often, even inaccessible.
The flexibility of ad placements offered by VOD platforms also helps keep down ad costs and ad waste. Ad spots can be placed before or after shows and even during the show, improving both flexibility for the advertiser and experience for the viewer.
9. Interactivity for viewer engagement
Major VOD platforms allow viewers to share comments, likes, and ratings with other viewers, creating a community where like-minded viewers can discuss and debate their favorite shows.
Other interactive features include in-video files such as surveys, file attachments, and timed comments that allow content creators to gather feedback and insights from their viewers while the video is playing.
These interactive features make watching videos on community platforms a much more engaging and social experience.
What are the features of the best Video On Demand platforms?
If you are a content owner on the hunt for the right tech stack for your VOD service, the options out there can baffle you! But no fear, content owner. We’re here to give you a full download of top features to look out for in your VOD platform provider, all so you can deliver the best viewing experience, achieve high ad revenues and scale rapidly.
1. Seamless, low-latency video delivery for topnotch viewing experiences
VOD platforms must provide seamless and low-latency video delivery through a combination of technologies and protocols.
For example, adaptive bitrate streaming, which adjusts the video quality based on the available network bandwidth, enables high-quality streaming even in areas with unreliable internet bandwidth.
CDN replicates content to servers closer to the end users, minimizing latency.
HTTP-based protocols such as HLS or DASH are optimized for web delivery and provide low-latency video streaming.
2. Centralized platform for operational ease and excellence
A centralized platform provides a single interface to content owners for all content operations and management.
It facilitates content libraries where content can be cataloged and be available for authorized access using metadata such as titles, tags, etc., to find the required content.
A centralized platform also automates content distribution to websites and apps, ensuring that the content reaches the intended audience and device promptly and efficiently.
A centralized platform also supports quick and easy ad insertion, allowing advertisers to identify and act on audiences’ preferences and intent quickly.
3. Content security to protect owner and creator interests
Content security is a critical element of VOD platform providers, ensuring total protection of content owners’ rights and creators’ interests. Various technologies come into play to control the use and distribution of digital content and prevent piracy.
For example, Digital Rights Management (DRM) uses technologies like AES, a secure encryption standard. When content is encrypted using AES, it can only be accessed by authorized devices with the necessary decryption keys.
Watermarking comes into action to combat piracy attempts occuring after content has been securely delivered and has hit the screens. Watermarking involves embedding a unique digital signature into each content copy to trace the source of pirated content.
4. Multilingual support with audio and closed captioning for wider content accessibility
The best VOD platforms, like ViewLift, offer the ability to deliver language accessibility for videos, providing subtitles in multiple languages. The platform also supports language-specific metadata, enabling users to filter video content by language.
Closed captioning makes content accessible to users who cannot hear the audio due to hearing impairment or need assistance understanding content not produced in their native languages. But the work of closed captioning does not end there. VOD platforms offering this feature must ensure it doesn’t mar the viewing experience. Viewlift, for example, allows adjustment of the font size and the contrast of the closed captions and subtitles for easier viewing.
Audio Description is an optional narration feature that describes what is happening on screen, including physical actions, facial expressions, costumes, settings, and scene changes and is helpful for the visually impaired. Offering this feature can make your VOD platform accessible and inclusive.
5. Monetization options for profitability across diverse audience segments and business models
A diverse and flexible range of monetization options should be available for content creators, owners and distributors. Besides subscription-based, ad-free SVOD, other monetization options include AVOD, TVOD, and pay-per-view. It is also possible to have a hybrid combination of two or more monetization models.
For ease of monetization, multiple payment methods should be available, such as integrated payment gateways, e-commerce gateways, international currency, cross-platform payments, and marketing tools like coupons and offers.
6. Ecommerce integration for innovative alternative revenue streams
E-commerce integration allows merchandising related to the video content, such as T-shirts and posters. In addition, VOD platforms like ViewLift can manage the entire ecommerce process for content owners as well as their brand advertisers, providing a seamless shopping experience for users without having to leave the VOD platform.
In-app purchasing enables users to purchase additional content or premium features within the app, generating additional revenue for the content.
With the integration of multiple payment gateways like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Stripe, ViewLift makes it easy for users to make purchases and for sellers to receive payments.
7. Analytics and dashboard for informed decisions
VOD platforms must offer analytics and visualization using graphs and charts, enabling content and platform owners to make data-driven strategies and everyday decisions that ensure profitability.
For example, identifying which marketing channels are most effective in driving new signups and which types of content or promotions lead to higher conversion rates helps optimize customer acquisition strategy.
Viewing habits, device usage, and user preferences help identify user behavior and engagement patterns. This delivers tailoring retention strategies with personalized recommendations and targeted promotions.
The recommendation engine’s performance tests the success of personalization strategies and the impact on user engagement and retention.
8. Geo-fencing for geographically restricted content
Geo-fencing technology uses GPS or RFID to create a virtual fence around a specific geographical area. Geo-fencing enables the setting of geographic restrictions for content viewership. This is useful in adhering to license terms and content distribution regulations in particular geographies.
9. Integrations for customer acquisition and engagement
VOD platforms like ViewLift use integrations with Meta and Google for targeted customer acquisition and retention campaigns based on demographics, interests, and behaviors, among other factors.
For viewer engagement and retention, VOD platforms working with ViewLift get access to integrations with a variety of customer engagement platforms such as Airship, CleverTap, Mailchimp, and Mandrill. In addition, personalized messages, recommendations, and offers can be delivered through push notifications, email marketing, and in-app messaging.
10. Integrations for driving interactivity and engagement
The best VOD platforms, like ViewLift, provide legal integrations with betting apps, allowing passionate sports fans to place bets on their favorite teams as they watch them play in real-time.
ViewLift also integrates other interactivity features like live trivia, Q&A sessions, etc., where viewers can interact, thus fostering a sense of community among viewers and boosting engagement and retention.
11. FAST channel support to breathe new life into monetization models
With multi-channel subscriptions and increasing subscription fatigue, more and more customers are starting to prefer FAST channels, which translates to Free Ad-supported TV. It’s free for the user, and monetization is entirely based on ad revenues.
ViewLift, with its FAST platform, offers a pleasant FAST viewing experience. All you have to do is to get great content and let the platform do the rest!
How to increase user engagement on your VOD platform
User engagement is the key to success on a VOD platform. The more engaged your users are, the more likely they are to stick around and become loyal customers.
Here are some strategies and tools to help you boost engagement, including some user engagement features offered by ViewLift.
- Personalization: Personalization is key to engaging users and keeping them coming back for more. By providing personalized recommendations based on their viewing history, interests, and preferences, you can help users discover new content they’re likely to enjoy. ViewLift customers, for example, user its robust recommendation engine that analyzes user behavior and provides personalized recommendations that keep users engaged and returning.
- Gamification: Gamification is a powerful tool that can increase user engagement by adding elements of competition and fun to your platform, especially for sports viewing. ViewLift offers a range of gamification features, including leaderboards, badges, and achievements, that can motivate users to watch more content, engage with your platform, and share their experiences with friends and family.
- Interactive content: Interactive content is another effective way to engage users and create a more immersive viewing experience. With ViewLift’s interactive content features, OTT platforms add interactive elements to their content, such as quizzes and trivia, polls among others, that keep users engaged and encourage them to interact with your content.
- Push notifications and other personalized techniques: Personalized push notifications and SMS and email marketing are great tools to keep users informed about new content, promotions, and other updates. With ViewLift’s push notification feature, content owners send targeted notifications and emails to users based on their interests and preferences, keeping them up-to-date and engaged with their platform.
- Social sharing: Social sharing is yet another crucial tool that not only engages existing users but also introduces your VOD platform to new users, assisting both customer acquisition and retention. With ViewLift’s social sharing feature, VOD platforms make it easy for users to share their favorite content with friends and followers on social media, expanding reach and encouraging increased engagement.
- Watch parties: Who doesn’t love a watch party of that college favourite movie or the big Superbowl event? Watch parties are a fun and social way to engage users and create a community viewing experience. With ViewLift, VOD platforms help their customers can watch content together in real-time, chat with each other, and share their thoughts and reactions, creating a more engaging and interactive experience
- User reviews and ratings: User reviews and ratings are a valuable source of feedback and engagement on your platform. With ViewLift’s user reviews and ratings feature, VOD platforms offer their viewers ways to express their content affinities and preferences every time they watch something and not just on sign up, providing valuable feedback that helps improve viewing experience, UX and content strategies.
Whether you’re looking to boost engagement, increase retention, or reach new users, these tools and features can help you achieve your goals and build a successful VOD platform.
How to improve content visibility for your VOD platform
Content is king when it comes to building a successful VOD platform. But with so much content available, how can you ensure that your users can find the content they’re looking for? Let’s get right into it.
- Optimize for search engines: SEO is critical for ensuring that your VOD platform’s content is discoverable. Use relevant keywords in your content titles, descriptions, and tags to help improve search engine rankings and increase visibility.
- Leverage social media: Social media platforms can be a powerful tool for promoting your VOD content and reaching a wider audience. Share your content on social media channels and encourage your followers to share and engage with it.
- Use paid advertising: Consider investing in paid advertising to promote your VOD content. Platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Instagram Ads can help you reach a highly targeted audience and increase visibility.
- Collaborate with influencers: Partnering with social media influencers or industry experts can help increase visibility and credibility for your VOD content. Identify influencers or experts in your industry and reach out to them to collaborate on content or promotions.
- Optimize for user engagement: User engagement is a critical factor in improving content visibility on VOD platforms. Encourage users to engage with your content by providing relevant recommendations, personalized content, and social sharing options.
- Leverage email marketing: Email marketing is an effective way to promote your VOD content and engage with your audience. Use email campaigns to promote new content releases, highlight popular content, and share personalized recommendations.
By implementing these strategies, you can increase visibility and engagement for your VOD platform’s content, and drive more views and revenue.
Ready to place your bets on the best VOD platform experience?
In a market characterized by dynamic growth, it is essential for content owners to partner with the most optimal VOD platform providers who offer the precise features and tech stack that drive customer acquisition and retention, brand partnerships and revenue growth.
ViewLift, with its end-to-end platform, has been powering some of the most successful streaming services and VOD platforms across the globe. With its industry-leading functionalities, complete scalability, and deep operational experience with content owners of all sizes, ViewLift can help you distribute your content profitably to audiences worldwide.
Talk to ViewLift solutions experts to learn more about ViewLift VOD solutions.
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