Linear TV Vs OTT and what to expect in 2019

February 28, 2019

Everything You Need to Know About Streaming vs Television (Cable)

Long gone are the days of endlessly flipping through television channels to find your favorite TV show or sports program. In 2019, more people are foregoing cable providers and traditional television. Instead they are accessing their movies, shows, and live sporting events by streaming.


Maybe you are a regular streamer and don’t even know the first thing about it. Chances are you have never heard the term “linear television” or the phrase “over-the-top” in relation to streaming. For those of you hoping to become more familiar with linear TV vs OTT, keep reading.


Here you will learn the differences between streaming vs television, why more people are choosing to stream, and how streaming improves the overall watching experience. You’ll also learn what the future holds for traditional cable television as well as streaming.

What is linear TV?

Linear TV, also known as cable television, is the traditional form of TV that is offered by your cable provider. Linear television requires you (the viewer) to scroll through channels to find your desired television program. Each program is aired on a specific channel at a certain time of day or night.


All linear TV is viewed through a subscription to a specific cable network provider or satellite service. According to reviews from linear TV users, these are the most popular providers in 2019: Spectrum, Xfinity, Cox, Frontier, and Mediacom.

What does OTT mean?

OTT stands for over-the-top and it involves the viewer accessing video content over the internet. Another commonly-used term for OTT is streaming. The main perk of utilizing OTT services is that it does not require a subscription to a cable or satellite provider. As long as you have a device to connect to the internet, you can watch TV by streaming.

How does OTT work?

As we mentioned before, over-the-top services function by using an internet connection. OTT services are typically accessed by visiting a web page on your browser or opening an app. Accessing OTT via a mobile application is becoming more popular, mostly because it allows for convenient streaming anywhere at anytime. You can easily access your Youtube or Netflix app from your phone whenever you want, and that is the power of OTT.

Anything that can connect to the internet is able to stream content, like TV shows and movies. Typically OTT services are used through laptops, phones, and tablets. They can also be accessed through Smart TVs (like a Google TV), set-top boxes (like an Apple TV or Roku), or gaming consoles such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

Can streaming offer access to content other than video?

The most common form of content accessed via streaming is television. OTT is also commonly referred to as internet television or streaming television for this reason. This form of TV is accessed through your internet or cell phone provider rather than a satellite service.


You might think that accessing video content is the sole purpose of OTT, but this is not the case. OTT also offers messaging and voice calling capabilities. Think about it…. It isn’t even necessary to have a text message plan from your phone provider anymore, or even a voice calling plan for that matter.


You can send messages via online chatting options like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. As long as you have data on your phone, you are able to send messages and make phone calls. Purchasing a data plan from your mobile provider is still necessary, but as long as you have this you can do everything via OTT services.

Where do the terms IP and ISP come in?

Your internet provider is aware of your internet protocol (IP), which means it can track your activity and is aware of the sites you typically visit. Even though the provider can see this info, it can’t control your viewing behaviors. Although the company probably wishes you would use their internet provider services (IPS), it can’t control whether you do or not.


IPS refers to services offered by your cable provider like pay television, such as HBO, or video on demand. The main reason your provider wants you to uses internet provider services is because you typically have to pay for them. When you use OTT services instead, the provider gets nothing.

The most popular OTT platforms in 2019

Even though you can essentially stream content from anywhere, there are certain platforms specifically used for streaming video content. These are the most popular platforms this year.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu

It is no surprise that Netflix is the most popular OTT platform in 2019 and has been since streaming came into existence. As we mentioned before, the main reason for streaming is to watch video content. Netflix provides all kinds of video content, including feature films, TV shows, and documentaries.


Amazon Prime Video is much newer than Netflix but it is quickly becoming just as popular. A while back Amazon started offering a Prime membership option to customers, which allows for free 2-day shipping in addition to some other perks.


One of these perks is access to Amazon Video. This streaming platform gives you access to tons of TV shows and movies. It also allows you to subscribe to watch content from major channels like HBO or Showtime. For these you’ll have to pay an additional monthly fee.


Hulu is another major OTT streaming service that provides tons of shows and films when you sign up as a member. Hulu completely eliminates the need for a cable provider with its Live TV service. It allows you to watch live and on-demand TV from over 60 channels.

Who is the main audience using these OTT platforms?

When services like Netflix and Hulu first came into existence, it was definitely apparent that they catered to a younger crowd. In 2019 it is still obvious that OTT is used most by the 18-34 age bracket, but streaming has crept into the lives of older individuals as well.

How is streaming affecting linear TV services?

It is no surprise that linear TV services aren’t a huge fan of these growing streaming trends. Investing in streaming platforms essentially eliminates the need for a cable provider. Of course you’ll still need a package that includes internet for your home, but many Americans people have completely done away with a cable package.


Americans People have become quick to use OTT platforms like Hulu and Netflix as a replacement for linear TV services. With streaming viewers able to watch what they want when they want, all for a fraction of the cost. This has led to some conflicts between cable providers and streaming services, especially since streaming TV and movies tends to be the cheaper option.

What does the future hold for viewers?

Viewers can definitely count on OTT services to  flourish in the futurestick around, especially services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.  With fast and convenient streaming options becoming more available by the day, the viewers can expect a fast and convenient viewing experience is expected to become more diverse, affordable and accessible.whenever they please.

The future of linear TV

OTT offers a better viewing option and allows the viewer to have more control. With linear TV, you often have to pay for additional services like video on demand, whereas with streaming services, it is an all-in-one price. With the growing popularity of streaming, linear TV is suffering. Fewer people are turning on their cable box to watch their favorite show airing at 9pm on a Saturday night.


Linear TV providers hope that the future of TV will actually incorporate aspects of both OTT and linear television, as it still does today. A story that starts off on a local news channel - or a linear TV source - can easily continue as an OTT source on Youtube or another streaming site. Linear TV is still being utilized by older generations, but even this is quickly decreasing.but nobody knows what will happen 20 years down the road.

The future of OTT

From here on out streaming will simplyjust continue to grow. There are several reasons for this, and here’s what they areHere’s why:

  • More access to the internetHigher rates of access to the internet
  • People love watching video contentVideo content becoming more popular
  • Streaming services offering more options at a lower cost
  • Business and enterprises commonly adopting video throughout the workplace


You can expect to see more additions being added to streaming services, much like thea live-TV option that has recently been added to Hulu. All in all, OTT is here to stay.

How are cable providers responding to these changes?

Be prepared for some major changes to occur within your cable providing companies - if those changes have not already happened. If cable providers and satellite services fail to adapt to the changing times, they will become obsolete. More providers are putting an emphasis on internet packages since customers aren’t using their linear TV services.

Conclusion on linear TV vs OTT?

Because OTT offers easy access to your favorite shows whenever you wish to view them, there is essentially no need for you to keep your linear TV provider. Of course you will still need to purchase an internet package from the company. Find a provider that has a focus on high-speed internet so that you can easily stream all of your favorite video content.


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