One of the most overwhelming parts of starting an online video business is the terminology.
It feels like there’s an acronym or super-technical word for everything, doesn’t it?
These terms can either make your eyes glaze over or leave you thinking that you don’t know your OTT from your elbow.
We thought, wouldn’t it be nice if someone put all the tricky jargon into laymen’s terms everyone can understand?
So, that’s exactly what we did.
In this guide, you’ll find the most common – and confusing – video industry terms with simple definitions, examples and further reading to help you build out your knowledge.
Here are the four sections we’ll cover:
- OTT Terms: words like OTT, Roku, and OTT Apps
- Video-on-Demand Terms: words like VOD, SVOD, and AVOD
- Technical Video Terms: words like IPTV, tvOS and HTTP Live Streaming
- Video Business Terminology: words like Subscription Model, Video Streaming Platform, and CMS
And if you’re really unsure where your term might be in this list, simply hit “CTRL + F” to open the search tool and type it in:
This will take you right to it!
Stands for Over the Top. Refers to any content service that allows you to stream videos via the internet and not via satellite or cable.
Example: Netflix, Hulu
Learn more: What is OTT?
OTT Video App
Any downloadable application, whether for smartphones, tablets, or TVs, that allows you to watch videos on that device using the internet possible.
Example: The YouTube app on your mobile phone.
OTT Streaming Service
A company that provides access to streamable videos for a monthly fee.
OTT Streaming Platform
See OTT streaming service.
The services and elements needed to make OTT available to customers, such as high-bandwidth internet.
Example: To stream a video you need a phone line, a powerful internet, and an OTT-ready device.
Learn more: OTT: The Challenges of Infrastructure
An OTT service that uses artificial intelligence to monitor activity and make suggestions based on watching habits.
Example: YouTube’s recommended videos section of their homepage.
Learn more: Why AI Is a Smart Play for OTT
A device that enables digital video to be viewed.
Example: See Apple TV or Roku.
Learn more: Set-Top Box (Wiki)
An internet-ready TV, able to download OTT video apps and stream without a set-top box.
Example: A television with Netflix or Amazon Prime buttons on the remote.
Learn more: Smart TV (Wiki)
Smart TV Platform
The software that enables a Smart TV to function, including Roku, iOS, Android TV and Fire TV.
Also see, Smart TV and tvOS.
An operating system for 4th generation (and beyond) Apple TV products.
Learn more: tvOS (Wiki)
An Apple product device that enables you to stream OTT videos through your television with an HDMI cable. Requires internet.
Learn more: Apple TV (Wiki)
Amazon Fire TV
An Amazon product device that enables you to access Prime Video services, and other OTT video apps, through your television with an HDMI cable. Requires internet.
Learn more: Amazon Fire TV (Wiki)
A Google product, HDMI plug-in dongle that enables you to stream OTT videos through your television. Requires internet.
Learn more: Chromecast (Wiki)
OTT video-streaming company that creates streaming devices and Smart TVs.
Learn more: Roku (Wiki)
Sony game console with the ability to download OTT apps and videos. Available from PlayStation 4 onwards.
Learn more: PS4: Where to Find TV and Video Services
Microsoft game console with the ability to download OTT apps and videos using the Microsoft Store. Available with Xbox One onwards.
Learn more: Movie and TV Apps on Xbox One
Stands for Video-On-Demand. Refers to any video that can be accessed at the user’s convenience, and isn’t restricted by program schedule.
Example: Watching a YouTube video on your phone.
Learn more: What Is VOD?
Stands for Subscription Video-on-Demand. A VOD model that grants access to a library of videos for a subscription fee.
Example: Netflix’s business model of a monthly subscription.
Learn more: What Is SVOD?
Stands for Transactional Video-on-Demand. Allows you to watch videos on a pay-per-video basis.
Stands for Ad-based Video on Demand. Video revenue is generated through adverts before, during or after the video.
Example: Watching a YouTube video.
Enables you to view on-demand videos without downloading them. Requires internet access.
Example: Watching a movie on Hulu.
Learn more: What is Streaming Video on Demand?
The ability to purchase a video to own forever. Relates to TVOD.
Example: Purchasing a TV episode on iTunes.
Learn more: Electronic Sell-Through (Wiki)
Stands for Interactive Video-on-Demand. An early term used to describe VOD functions like rewind, fast-forward and pause.
This term no longer in use.
Example: Streaming a video through your Smart TV.
Learn more: What Does iVOD Mean?
Internet Protocol Television. The delivery of television content over the internet. Can be used for live TV, catch-up TV or VOD.
Example: Any video streamed via the internet.
Learn more: How IPTV Works
Stands for Content Delivery Network. A system of servers spread across countries that load content based on a users location. Used to increase load speeds.
Also see, Cloud Video Distribution.
Example: A US-Based website using a CDN with servers in London to help UK users load content quicker.
Learn more: What Is A CDN?
Transcription of a video’s dialogue for the hard of hearing, which can only be seen once activated. Referred to as Subtitles outside of the US and Canada.
Example: When watching a YouTube video, if you click the “CC” button you will see a text-based version of the dialogue.
Learn more: Closed Captioning (Wiki)
A catch-all term used to describe text on a video, used for people who don’t understand the spoken language, or are hard of hearing. Often used for the native language and foreign translations.
See Closed Captioning.
Example: A German movie with English text displayed at the bottom of the screen.
Learn more: 7 Reasons Videos Need Subtitles
HTTP Live Streaming
A protocol that enables effective and responsive live streaming. Turns MP4 videos into small, 10-second, chunks and delivers them to the viewer. The quality can differ from chunk to chunk based on a user’s internet connection at the time the data is sent.
Example: Watching a live Twitch gaming stream in your web browser.
Learn more: HTTP Live Streaming Official Documentation
Software Development Kit (SDK)
A set of tools designed to help develop tools for a specific platform or coding language.
Example: A developer aiming to create a Java-based program will need a Java Development Kit.
Learn more: Software Development Kit (Wiki)
Stands for Application Programming Interface. Software that enables different programs to interact with each other.
Example: If you embed a YouTube video into a blog post, this is a simple API in action.
Learn more: What Is an API? In English, Please
Cloud Video Distribution
Videos that are stored on internet servers that can be accessed by viewers without downloading the video file. Speeds up content delivery and load times. “The cloud” is a widely used metaphor for the internet.
Also see, CDN
Learn more: Reimagining Content Distribution via the Cloud
A website service that allows you to upload videos to the internet and provides the functions to play, pause, view, and share videos.
Example: Uploading a video to a YouTube channel.
Learn more: Uscreen’s Video CMS
An ultra-high resolution video. Refers to a screen that has around 4,000 pixels on the horizontal view.
Also see, HD
Example: If you have a Full-HD television, 4K is widely considered to be four times the quality of your current picture.
Learn more: What Is 4K and Ultra HD?
Stands for High Definition.
Refers to any video over a resolution of 720p. However, it typically refers to videos 1080i or 1080p resolution, which is considered Full-HD.
Also see, 4K
Example: Your local cinema likely shows the majority of their films in HD resolution.
Learn more: High Definition Video (Wiki)
Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor. A service that provides access to multiple live television channels via the internet.
Example: An app on your Smart TV that allows you to live-stream a national news broadcast.
Learn more: The Rise of the Virtual MVPD
Stands for Open Broadcast Software. A free open-source program that allows creators to record and stream videos. Created by the OBS Project.
Learn more: OBS Project Official Website
Changeable factors within Open Broadcast Software that affect streaming or recording quality.
Also see, OBS.
Example: You may need to adjust your OBS recording settings if you’re using an old computer with a less powerful graphics card.
An abbreviation of HTTP Live Streaming.
See HTTP Live Streaming.
VTT Caption Format
Stands for Video Text Tracks. A system or format for creating time-specific closed captions for your videos. Can be uploaded with a video and will match the dialogue with the specific time-stamp.
See Closed Captioning.
Learn more: WebVTT (Wiki)
Video Business Terms
Stands for Content Management System. A system to aid in the creation and publication of digital content. This includes creating website pages and embedding content like graphics or videos.
Example: WordPress is the world’s leading content management system.
Stands for Real-Time Messaging Protocol. A service to help transmit audio and video from Adobe’s Flash Players to servers.
Learn more: RTMP Explained
Online Video Platform
A platform that allows users to upload videos with the ability to generate revenue.
Example: Creating a Subscription Video Business with Uscreen.
Online Video Business
An online service that generates income through the sale of access to their videos.
Example: Hulu is an online video business. (You can also find other independent examples here.)
Online Video Subscription Business
An online video business that charges users a recurring fee for access to their content.
Also see, Subscription Business Model.
Example: Netflix is an online video subscription business. (You can also find other independent examples here.)
The act of generating income from video content.
See VOD, SVOD, TVOD, and AVOD.
Example: The adverts at the start of a YouTube video are a form of video monetization.
Subscription Business Model
A business model based on subscription payments. Typically, a user pays a recurring fee for access to content or a repeatable service.
Example: Getting access to premium content for a flat monthly fee.
Learn more: The 6 Types of Subscription Business Model
Monthly Recurring Revenue
The income your business generates each month based on your number of subscribers.
Also see, Online Subscription Business and Subscription Business Mode.
Example: If you have 10 subscribers paying $100 a month, you would have a monthly recurring revenue of $1000.
Learn more: How To Price Your SVOD
Video Subscription Service Platform
A service that enables you to create a subscription video business.
Example: Uscreen is a video subscription platform as part of their service.
Learn more: Uscreen’s Pricing Page
Digital Rights Management
Copyright protection for digital media. Helps you to retain ownership of your content and prevents unlawful distribution or access.
Example: Security encryption on your website can prevent users from downloading videos and sharing them on peer-to-peer sharing websites.
Learn more: What is Digital Rights Management?
The suffix at the end of a website domain name that ends in “.tv” instead of “.com” or “.org”.
An internet-based hub of education. Typically offers a holistic package of online courses that help you learn a range of skills in a niche, topic or industry.
Example: While a set of videos on direct variations in algebra would be an online course, a large set of video on overall highschool mathematics would be an online school.
Learn more: How to Start an Online School in 5 Steps
See Online School.
Stands for Mobile Learning. Education, such as online courses, that are accessible via a mobile device, like a tablet or smartphone.
Example: You purchase an online course that comes with an app so you can access content on-the-go.
Any type of online course-based learning.
Also see, Online School.
Example: Watching educational videos on Skillshare, Udemy or even YouTube.
Learn more: How to Start your First eLearning Business
Night School eLearning
The most common type of eLearning business. Refers to courses that can be accessed on-demand and are typically used by users around their day job. Night School courses tend to focus on one topic deeply.
Example: You purchase access to a graphic design course that teaches you how to make effective logos.
Academy eLearning Model
Online schools that offer access to a complete library of lessons. This model aims to provide comprehensive education on a skill or topic.
Examples: You purchase access to a graphic design course that offers a complete education on graphic design (rather than just logo).
Snippets of video that aim to entice a viewer to watch more.
Examples: The adverts you see before a movie.
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