OTT Linear Broadcasting: What TV & Radio Broadcasters Need to Know [2022 Update]
Television and radio have been slowly dying out, and streaming over the internet has taken their place. Although consumers are cutting the cord on cable and are abandoning traditional radio, there is still a demand for linear broadcasting.
OTT broadcasting is giving people access to the style of streaming that they are used to while making it more accessible than ever.
In this post, we’re going to discuss what linear broadcasting is and how the industry is shifting towards the internet. From there, we will provide an in-depth guide on how to set up OTT linear broadcasting with the help of a professional live streaming solution.
Table of Contents
- What is Linear Broadcasting?
- The Transition from Linear TV to OTT Broadcasting
- How to Set Up Linear OTT Broadcasting
- Plan and Strategize
- Choose a Live Streaming Platform
- Invest in Equipment
- Schedule Your Content
- Set Up Monetization
- Promote Your Content
- Start Streaming
What is Linear Broadcasting?
Linear broadcasting refers to the continuous streaming of predetermined programs on one channel. This is the broadcasting style that traditional television and radio stations have used for years.
Let’s say that your favorite radio station is 101.9 FM, a top 40s station. This station follows daily schedules. That schedule could look a little something like this:
- 12:00 AM to 6:00 AM: Late Nights with Larry
- 6:00 AM to 11:00 AM: The Wake Up Show with DJ SunnySide
- 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM: Weekday Chats with Liz and Lucy
- 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM: Rush Hour Jams with the Commute Crew
- 7:00 PM to 12:00 AM: Slow Down Show with DJ Spins-a-lot
Every moment of the day has scheduled programming. The producers of each show use a mix of songs, live segments, and paid ads to fill their slot. That is what linear radio looks like.
How much of the show is live or prerecorded doesn’t matter. What makes it linear broadcasting is that listeners could tune in at any time during the day and something will be on. The same applies to linear TV channels.
A linear TV example is basically every television channel that has shows you can watch 24-7.
Live Linear Streaming vs. Live Broadcasting
Live linear streaming and live broadcasting go hand in hand, but some technical differences set them apart.
Live linear streaming can involve pre-produced content that is simply airing during the continuous broadcast. On the other hand, live broadcasting shares content that is being recorded in real-time.
Live linear streaming can include live broadcasting, but it doesn’t have to. A linear platform has content you can watch 24/7, that may or may not include live broadcasts.
The Transition from Linear TV to OTT Broadcasting
Although the linear broadcasting model still exists, the method of delivery is changing. People are cutting the cord on cable and opting for online alternatives powered by OTT technology.
OTT, or over-the-top technology, refers to delivering content outside of, or on top of, the traditional television networks.
One-third of American households no longer have paid cable subscriptions in 2022, and this trend looks to continue to accelerate in the coming years.
The reason for the transition from traditional linear TV to OTT broadcasting is pretty simple: the convenience of tuning in to your favorite show from any internet-enabled device is unbeatable.
With OTT technology, users can tune into anything that is broadcasted over the internet from their smartphones, tablets, computers, and laptops. Smart TVs are also built for OTT streaming, so there is absolutely nothing to sacrifice when you “cut the cord on cable” and make the switch.
Since consumers are so rapidly moving to this age of internet streaming, traditional radio and television networks are doing their best to move along with them to satisfy their loyal audience. Linear streaming online is the future of broadcasting.
With OTT vs linear TV, OTT is leading the charge into the future.
How to Set Up Linear OTT Broadcasting
There are two general starting points for setting up OTT linear broadcasting. Most broadcasters in your shoes are either starting from scratch or shifting from traditional linear TV.
If you already have a television or radio station, this process is very easy since you already have a pretty good idea of how broadcasting works and you’ve got most of the required equipment.
Even if you don’t have previous broadcasting experience and an existing brand, setting up linear broadcasting is pretty straightforward. It will just require a bit of practice and some investments.
With that said, let’s take a look at how to set up OTT linear broadcasting.
1. Plan and Strategize
In order to avoid getting overwhelmed throughout this process, you’re going to need to go in with a solid plan that outlines what you want to accomplish and how you will make that happen.
At this point, you’ll have to decide what type of programs you’ll be streaming. Will you be uploading all prerecorded content, or will live video be mixed in, as well? If you already have an existing network with well-received programs, this should be easy to decide, but if you’re starting from scratch you’ve got some brainstorming to do.
First, establish who your audience will be. What do you have to offer to them, and how will you present it? Linear broadcasting generally is used for news and current event updates, entertainment, and education. Choose a general direction, and niche down from there.
Plan out your studio setup. If you’re doing an audio-only broadcast, this will be easy, but if you’re streaming video, having a suitable physical location becomes more important.
This stage is a good time to start thinking about your budget and how you will monetize your streams. We will discuss monetization and pricing in more detail a little bit further along.
2. Choose a Live Streaming Platform
A professional-grade live streaming platform is essential to hosting linear broadcasts. You need a platform that is reliable and offers all of the features required for linear broadcasting.
There are a few features to look for when choosing your platform for OTT delivery:
- Live video hosting
- VOD hosting
- 24/7 streaming
- Unlimited viewers
- Ad and subscription-based monetization
- Privacy and security
You’ll also want to take a look at the costs associated with the live streaming platform. You’ll likely pay a monthly subscription fee plus additional fees for access to extra bandwidth. Make sure it makes sense with your budget.
Take a look at our Video Platform Comparison post to check out some of the best options. A strong video platform is necessary to develop an OTT linear broadcasting experience.
3. Invest in Equipment
If you are starting from scratch you’re going to need to invest in professional-grade equipment. Recording devices, like cameras and microphones, should be a priority. You need equipment that is capable of producing high-quality content.
You’ll also need a computer to run your live streaming platform and other production software. A laptop may suffice, but for advanced broadcasting, a desktop computer with multiple monitors is ideal.
A lot of things can be automated with linear broadcasting, but if you use any live footage, you’ll be mixing videos and switching sources in real-time, so a capable computer is a must.
Your computer will also come in handy for running your encoding software. This is a tool that takes files from your camera and converts them to streamable digital files in real-time. A hardware encoder is another option, but if you’re new to broadcasting, a software encoder is the safest bet.
However, if you are transitioning from traditional linear TV broadcasting, the only equipment you’ll need from this list is an encoder.
4. Schedule Your Content
Scheduling your content ahead is essential for success in linear broadcasting. This step will look a little different, depending on what live streaming solution you use.
For Dacast, you can set up video packages and arrange different live video channels and on-demand video content to play in a certain order.
You’ll likely work out your schedule weeks or even months in advance, so on the production side, you should be able to schedule your content in bulk. As we mentioned before, any live video content will require a bit of real-time mixing and mastering which would require a bit of manpower.
Please keep in mind that if you want to stream content that you have not created, you are going to have to obtain rights to the footage. We recommend getting in touch with an entertainment lawyer if you’re planning to stream other people’s content.
5. Set Up Monetization
Generating revenue from your broadcast station is important. There are a few main ways that broadcasters monetize linear streams: advertisements, subscriptions, or both.
Think about traditional television that you’ve been watching for years. You pay for the cable subscription, and you also watch commercials every ten minutes or so. OTT linear broadcasters typically use that same general model.
Radio, on the other hand, is a bit different. Sirius XM used the subscription model, but the service never became super popular. Regular radio uses sponsored advertisements, which is something you could consider doing, too.
In the situation of OTT broadcasting, the advantage to consumers is that they pay for specific channels that they want access to, rather than the hefty larger packages that traditional providers offer.
As you price your service, consider the exclusivity and value of your content. For example, Hulu’s OTT platform is available for less than $10/month and it includes access to thousands of episodes and movies. For their live network add-ons start at around $5/month. Other live streaming services, like ESPN+, are also around $5/month.
This should give you a good idea of where to start.
6. Promote Your Content
Promoting your content to the right audience is very important. Social media is a good place to start. You can market your content organically or use paid ads.
If you have an existing TV or radio station, we suggest regularly letting viewers or listeners know that they can find you online. Some broadcasters in this position make some content exclusive on their online channels to give consumers the incentive to tune in online.
Get creative with your promotions, and keep your target audience in mind with any campaign you roll out.
7. Start Streaming
Once everything is planned and your equipment in place, it’s time to start streaming. On most platform’s this should be as easy as clicking “Start Streaming.”
For more information on producing a linear stream, check out our dedicated guide.
Are you ready to start linear broadcasting over the internet? With the support of the right live stream hosting platform, this should not be that difficult to accomplish.
In order to choose the video hosting platform that suits your needs, we recommend taking advantage of free trials. In fact, you can start with Dacast.
Our 14-day risk-free trial includes access to all of our professional broadcasting features. All you have to do to get started is sign up for a Dacast account today. No credit card required. Just click the link below to start streaming today!
Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about OTT and linear broadcasting? Let us know in the comments section, below!
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Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live broadcasts!