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What is the difference between video on demand and streaming?

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Now that the consumption of media content has increased greatly, two terms have gained popularity: live video streaming and VOD (Video on demand) services. Often, brands face difficulty in deciding whether to publish their video content as a live video feed or through a VOD platform. Both of them have their own purposes, advantages, and disadvantages.  Whether live streaming or VOD would be more suitable would depend on the type of video content.

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What is live streaming?

Live streaming implies that the viewers are watching a live event through their devices. No matter the platform as long as the content being watched is occurring in real-time, it can be called live streaming. Examples of the live streaming platform include new channels, gaming live stream channels on YouTube and Twitch, live broadcasts of sports, etc.

What is VOD?

Video on demand is just the opposite of live streaming. Here, the content is created and uploaded on an online platform, where it can be viewed at any time. It is more like a traditional way of circulating video content. For example, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other OTT services deliver VOD as the viewers can watch the movies and TV shows at their own convenience. While YouTube is used for live streaming, it also acts as a VOD platform as videos can be uploaded and then watched anytime.

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A brief comparison between VOD and live streaming

Each of these two types of content has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let us compare both of them:

1. Live to stream

  • During a live stream, the streamer can actively interact with the viewers and chat with them.
  • The steamers can collect the feedback of the viewers in real-time and answer their questions.
  • As the entire process on a live streaming platform takes place in real-time, there are no delays.
  • Live streaming might require one to install extra software or hardware.

2. Video on Demand

  • VOD is much more cost-effective than live streaming.
  • The viewers can watch VOD content at varying internet speeds as unlike live video streaming, they wouldn’t miss out on anything or lag behind.
  • VOD content can be viewed on a wide variety of devices.
  • It is possible to provide the video in better quality compared to live to stream.

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Which one should you use?

Whether you should opt for live streaming or VOD depends on a number of factors. These include how quickly you need to deliver the content, the purpose, and the type of content, which one your target audience would prefer, etc.

VOD platforms usually come in handy in case of:

Educational courses:

eLearning has been revolutionized by the introduction of VOD. A vast library of academic materials is available online in the form of videos. Various institutions are also providing entire courses in the form of VOD through various platforms. Udemy, for example, is one of the leading educational VOD platforms. The main advantage of using VOD for education is that the students can watch the content anytime. They can browse through a catalog of study materials and pick what they need. Moreover, in case if a student can watch a particular content or chapter multiple times if necessary.

Entertainment:

VOD is in general the preferred platform for movies and other videos for entertainment purposes. OTT platforms are a perfect example of VOD entertainment. The main reason why VOD is chosen for this purpose is the flexibility. One would watch a movie during his/her leisure hours and this is exactly what the OTT platforms allow. It is also possible to provide subtitles, multiple video qualities, and a variety of other additional features when a movie is served through a VOD platform.

Live streaming is more useful for the following purposes:

Concerts and conferences:

During live concerts, they are usually streamed live even if a recorded video is published later on. This is because streaming a concert in real-time feels much different from watching a video or listening to it later on. Press conferences too, are streamed live in order to provide the viewers with real-time experience.

News:

News is a perfect example of live video streaming and found quite commonly. While recorded videos can be found on YouTube or on the online news portals, live streaming of breaking news is very popular. This is because, in the case of news, timely delivery is crucial. Apart from the traditional ways such as broadcasting news on TVs, news channels have also come up with the online live feed in a bid to stay in the competition.

Live lectures:

Even though online courses in the form of VOD are popular, live lectures are almost equally important. Various universities and lecturers offer live sessions where they can interact with their students. In case if the students have any queries, they can directly ask the lecturers while the session is on. Scientific experiments are often live-streamed as well in order to ensure better understanding. In many cases, the lecturer provides a VOD form of their lecture after the live session is over so that the students can watch it again it as needed.

Global trends

Here are some of the common trends regarding VOD and live streaming globally:

  • The number of worldwide subscriptions to OTT services is skyrocketing. An increasing number of people now prefer to view content on smartphones and laptops rather than TVs.
  • According to a survey, 44% of the surveyed individuals reported that they had reduced the time spent on watching live TV because they have switched to live streaming.
  • The number of viewers who watch live streams has increased by 47% over the past year.

Conclusion

Between VOD and live streaming, you can’t completely rule out either of the options. Both the platforms are gaining an ever-increasing audience in recent years. You would have to make your choice depending on which one is better suited for your business. In case if both are suitable, it is recommended to go for both VOD and live streaming platform as it is worth the investment. Choosing one and ignoring the other might cause you to miss out a large potential target audience.

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