Understanding Linear TV and OTT: Key Differences, Features & Trends

Shalabh Agarwal Aug 2nd, 2023

No doubt, television bought a revolution when it was introduced to the public. It was just like magic where people could watch their favourite sports or events live right from their houses. However, things changed with the introduction of smartphones and laptops. A new term was born OTT where people could watch anything on-demand and did not have to watch for a movie or shot to be aired on television. Today, televisions are highly used only with over-the-top platforms. But does it make linear TVs obsolete? What is the future of television? Let us find out by understanding Linear TV and OTT in detail through this blog.

What is Linear TV?

Linear TV is the conventional way of watching television. Here programs are broadcast according to a schedule and there is no option for on-demand watching. Whether it is about watching a live event or a favourite show, everything is aired at a specific time.

We also call it broadcast tv. People have to sit at the exact time of the show or movie. Still, as per the data found, Linear tv titles are watched the most in Europe and North America with 2.2 average titles consumed per day.

It is definitely a popular medium and still draws audiences of all ages and sizes unmatched by any other marketing channel. The 2022 Oscars ceremony live event was watched by 16.6 million people. 

Top Benefits of Linear TV

Linear tv is definitely the strongest medium of media consumption. Here viewers have a very wide range of channels to watch giving them complete control of their preference. Not only the users, but it also packs a great benefit to advertisers. 

Check out some of the top features of linear TV here-

1. Reliable Quality

Linear TV broadcasts typically maintain consistent video and audio quality, even during peak viewing hours, as they are delivered via cable, satellite, or over-the-air signals.

2. Scheduled Programming

Linear TV provides a structured programming schedule, allowing viewers to know exactly when their favorite shows, news broadcasts, or sporting events will air. This predictability can create a sense of routine and anticipation.

3. Simultaneous Viewing

Unlike on-demand streaming services, linear TV allows for simultaneous viewing across a large audience, enabling shared experiences during live events, such as award shows, sports events, and breaking news.

4. Curated Content Availability

TV networks curate content to cater to specific audiences and demographics, making it easier for viewers to discover new shows or genres they might not have found otherwise.

5. Advertising Revenue

For businesses and advertisers, linear TV provides a wide-reaching platform to showcase their products and services. Marketing teams can deliver more powerful impact and users have to watch advertisements from verified and trusted advertisers. All the content shown to the users is non-skippable and has a fixed timeframe. 

What is OTT?

Over the top or OTT is a technology that delivers content streaming through the internet on multiple devices. It is a new method of delivering movies and tv shows. Users have to pay a subscription fee to access the content on over the top platforms. 

By 2027, the users of OTT video platforms are expected to reach 4.22 billion users. At present, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney plus are some of the famous OTT platform examples.

Benefits of OTT

After the penetration of over-the-top platforms, the usage of linear tv saw a steep decline. It is because OTT brings multiple benefits to the users. 

Here are some of the benefits.

1. Convenience

Gaining access to OTT platforms is easy. With smartphones, users can download respective over-the-top applications and start enjoying the content. The case is similar with the televisions that now support these platforms flawlessly bringing convenience to the viewers.

2. Cost friendly

If a user does not want to view content, they can simply pause their OTT subscription at any time. Also the pricing is pocket friendly with a range of subscription packages to choose from.

3. Connectivity

With only a strong internet connection, users can start enjoying their desired films and tv shows. There are no other connectivity concerns associated with over the top platforms.

4. Diverse library

Just a subscription brings access to a diverse library of tv shows and films. Further, premium subscription brings featured content to the users before even the launch of a film.

5. Synchronization

If you want to view content on smartphones and suddenly you want to switch to television, the content will start from right where you left off on the smartphone. OTT brings a high level of synchronization across the devices.

6. Personalized suggestions

Over the top platforms embed intelligent algorithms for the users. Whatever is your preference, the platform will cater similar content and display it to you making the choice of content easier.

7. Advertisement-free experience

There are no ads associated with the OTT platforms. Although some do show the advertisements which can be removed by paying for a subscription.

With these benefits, OTT platforms are in high demand. Users are shifting completely to these platforms and enjoy the pool of benefits it brings.

Key Differences Between Linear TV and OTT

Despite the definition of both these platforms, they deliver similar objectives to the users. However, there are few key differences between Linear tv and OTT.

  • With linear TV viewers are binded to the time frame of the shows and films being aired on the television. Also, there is no way of skipping advertisements.
  • On the other hand, over-the-top services bring a smooth and easy experience to the users. There is no waiting time, eliminated advertisements and the viewers can access their desired tv shows and films right from anywhere and at any point of time.
  • In terms of preferences, operating a traditional TV is much easier for age group of about 45 who are not tech savvy. They are often overwhelmed by the choices of OTT and find it difficult to stream shows, use streaming sticks, navigate menus, etc. 
  • While cord-cutters and cord-nevers are growing, most TV viewers are actually still considered “hybrid” viewers. This means they’re watching a combination of linear and streaming TV.

The Impact on television industry

Over the top services have completely changed the landscape of television industry. They are also affecting and revolutionizing the traditional movie business where audiences get accessibility and affordability benefits.

Where consumers had to invest in bringing televisions, set up box, subscription and infrastructure space, now all of these costs are eliminated. 51% of the US audience has subscribed to at least one OTT platform which is definitely a matter of consideration for the television industry. 

Not only the television, the cinema business has registered nearly a 5% fall. Although, traditional tv viewing experience is still enjoyed by a massive user base, and the future of OTT platforms is bright along with the evolving demand of smartTVs and connected TV.


Over the recent years, there are several talks around that linear TV is “dead” because of the rise of digital video and streaming options. And it is an undeniable fact that the future of TV advertising is headed toward streaming. But linear TV is absolutely still relevant.

It is just that brands and agencies are just beginning to realize the extreme possibilities that OTT/ linear TV offers and we can expect to see much more innovation in the years to come. Both content broadcasters can advertisers can work on their video streaming strategies to stay ahead and effectively engage their evolving audiences on these platforms. If you are still unsure of how to get started, we are here to assist you. Contact us here.

Shalabh Agarwal - Co-founder, Enveu
Shalabh Agarwal is the co-founder of Enveu, one of the fastest-growing App automation and OTT solutions providers. Shalabh oversees the global businesses for Enveu and has been working in the Technology and SaaS space for over 15 years.

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