Test, QC & Monitoring Global Viewpoint – February 2020


Has the term broadcasting become outdated? Is it still relevant and should we be using phrases such as OTT’ing instead? More importantly, why does it matter?

The reason I ask is because I attended a meeting recently and was told that the description “television” is still relevant for our industry. Apparently, it’s a combination of the Greek “tele”, meaning “far off, or to a distance”, and the word “vision”, from the Latin “visus” meaning “sight”. So, we have “far away sight”, which beautifully describes the pictures on our computer and television screens.

Broadcast, on the other hand, means to “send along the ground by hand”, or “scatter and sow”. Again, this wonderfully describes what happens with a television transmitter as we send the signal away from us. But the implication is that we only send it in one direction. This results in an apparent disconnect between the sender and the receiver.

However, as we move into connected OTT distribution, the world is very different. The whole reason OTT is so popular for the consumer is that we can receive the program on a variety of devices, at our convenience, including mobile phones and computers. The underlying IP network tells only half the story as modern distribution systems such as HLS and DASH require a reverse data link. In other words, we need to both send and receive data to devices in the distribution chain to make OTT operate effectively, and this applies to any variation of OTT, such as VOD etc.

I believe, not only is there a technical difference here, but a very important psychological one too.

Any new breed of OTT and VOD provider knows full well how powerful a reverse data link from the end viewer is. This is a data statisticians’ idea of euphoria. Not only can the quality of distribution be monitored, but also the quality of reception and viewing habits established. This is incredibly important considering the choices consumers now have. If they’re unhappy with one service provider, consumers can easily switch to another, without even having to leave the comfort of their armchair!

But more importantly, it helps viewers feel part of the action and become more immersed in the event. Interactive viewing is growing in popularity and service providers know and fully understand the power of communities. It’s becoming not just a method of consuming media, but a way of life, social media and the internet have confirmed this.

Although there is a technical difference between broadcasting and internet delivery, the more important difference, I believe, is the state of mind and thinking between the people who work in them; broadcasting distributes, but OTT’ers engage.