An OTT platform is the most practical, resilient, effective way to launch an education business in today’s market. It cushions your business from the fallout of market disruptions while expanding your reach to a global market.
In short, it’s the tool you need to get ahead and stay there. Here’s how to make it work for you.
What is an OTT Solution?
An OTT, or “over the top” platform, sends video, audio, and other media over the internet without needing a cable subscription. The name comes from how it goes “over the top” of cable.
Most people know Netflix, Disney+, and other major OTT players, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A whole new crop of OTT platforms serving different industries has popped up, and education platforms make up a growing portion of the market.
OTT and Education: A Growing Trend
The online learning industry is projected to pass $370 billion by 2026. Some of that growth was inspired by the 2020 pandemic, but as things slowly begin to reopen the OTT education market keeps trending upwards.
Enrollment in online education facilities- businesses with little or no actual classroom space- is growing as a respected option for learning. The paid subscriber base for online education should hit 9.6 million people by the end of 2021.
Enrollment at traditional brick and mortar institutions, however, is falling. Those schools are also turning to OTT education platforms to bridge the gap. Before 2020, just 10% of traditional colleges were offering online degree options.
Now, 33% plan to continue offering fully online courses moving forward. Even the holdouts are using OTT tools like Canvas or Blackboard to capture some of the power of online learning.
It’s an exciting time to be in the education business.
The best business decision you’ll ever make
Taking your classes online is one of the smartest moves you can make from a business standpoint. An OTT platform gives you:
- Lower costs: Budgets are tight everywhere, and students are increasingly less willing to have administrative and maintenance costs passed on through tuition raises or fees. Administrators need to find ways to trim costs without affecting the quality of their curriculum.
An OTT platform comes with a significant drop in operating expenses. Facilities and materials costs are lower, for one thing. Without a physical campus (or with a smaller one) you need fewer support staff to handle behind-the-scenes tasks.
You can make student materials available digitally instead of running up printing costs. Instead of buying pricey demonstration sets, teachers can use graphics or videos to illustrate subjects. There’s also the possibility of using freely available Open Education Resources (OER) to augment your existing coursework.
The biggest investment involved in starting an OTT education platform is start-up costs. Those costs are surprisingly reasonable. Technology is at the point where budget video equipment can deliver high quality footage, and you can choose to build a scalable platform that grows when you’re ready for it.
- Higher ROI: Lower costs naturally translate into a higher return on investment (ROI). Even when you offer favorable tuition rates, spending less on things that don’t affect the quality of your program means you’ll still earn a better profit.
Those benefits grow as your platform matures for one simple reason: video content is evergreen. That means recorded programming can continue to generate revenue for an extended time. The ROI on that content increases every semester it’s reused.
- Better access to faculty: Because your platform is online, you can choose faculty members from anywhere with a reliable internet connection. This lets you focus on credentials and teaching efficacy instead of just choosing from applicants who are nearby or willing to relocate.
You’ll have an easier time attracting busy high level experts, too. Teaching an online class is a lower time investment without the hassle of travel, and it’s less disruptive to their outside work.
- More flexibility: It’s an order of magnitude easier to move or reschedule online classes in response to unexpected events. Plus, it’s less resource-intensive to add and drop classes. You can quickly adjust programming in response to student demand.
Why students respond to OTT education
The best thing about eLearning is that it’s popular with students, too. People from all walks of life are looking to build their skills and explore new interests, and for many of them an online solution fits into their lives better than physical school. They can access lessons from wherever they are, skip the commute, and learn at their own pace.
As more eLearning platforms are studied, we’re discovering that students often learn better online than in a classroom. Virtual classrooms let professors explain difficult concepts using dynamic graphics and video demonstrations that might be hard to do otherwise.
It isn’t a small difference, either. 76% of teachers report that video tools help their students remember what they’ve learned, and 88% say students do better overall when using video learning strategies.
Part of that success can be traced to higher accessibility. OTT education appeals to multiple learning styles, letting students approach the information in their own way to really understand . They can pause or rewatch videos and use transcripts when taking notes. If they don’t understand something, they can privately message the professor without feeling embarrassed.
When students feel confident and supported by the OTT model, they have the tools they need to succeed. They study harder, engage more deeply with the material, and have high course completion rates. In fact, online graduate students are twice as likely to finish their degree than traditional students.
OTT as a corporate training solution
OTT isn’t just for full education businesses. It’s also a powerful tool for corporate training. Microsoft cut nearly $14 million in annual training costs by investing in OTT learning solutions for their employees. They racked up an impressive ROI of 569% on their initial investment.
Employees are excited by eLearning, too. They can work it in around their schedules, meaning they achieve higher completion rates (and in less time, too!). That flexibility is why 87% of young executives value a workplace that’s invested in video training.
How often do you get to save money and improve workplace morale at the same time?
How to monetize your OTT educational platform
There are four main ways to monetize your content with an OTT platform. Here’s a quick rundown of your options, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each model.
- Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD): Students pay a flat platform fee and have access to all your content. They can explore different subjects without having to pin down one study area.
You’ll have a nice, regular income stream, though raising subscription fees without upsetting current students can be a delicate balancing act.
- Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD): Students pay per class they want to attend and are given access to just those materials. This a la carte model lets students pay only for what they will use and advance at their own pace.
TVOD gives you more flexibility in pricing premium content, but some students feel restricted by the narrow selection of content and the requirement to know exactly what they want to study.
- Advertising-based Video on Demand (AVOD): There’s no platform fee for classes. Students watch ads before or during videos and experience sponsored advertising across the platform.
AVOD isn’t a very popular model in OTT education programs because students generally don’t like interrupting their studies with ads. However, it can be a good funnel to a SVOD/ TVOD program, or used as a pilot program to gauge interest in a new course.
Example: YouTube tutorials
- Hybrid models: Design a custom monetization strategy by choosing the parts of these models that meet your needs, creating a hybrid model.
You could offer access to most of your catalogue for a low subscription (SVOD) with premium classes being unlocked by an extra fee (TVOD). Alternatively, you could offer free, ad-supported access to your entire catalogue (AVOD) and give live ad-free classes to those with a subscription (SVOD). Any arrangement that supports your business goals is a good one.
Where should you start?
If you’ve come this far, chances are good you see the value in an OTT education platform but are wondering where to start. Searching for platform builders online can be a daunting experience- even a discouraging one. There’s just so many options out there.
The best thing you can do is remember that you’re in the education business, not the technology business. Your time is valuable. Wouldn’t you rather spend it creating educational content than working on infrastructure?
Team up with an experienced developer like FanHero to take over the technical side of building an OTT platform. With that off your hands, you have the freedom to focus on perfecting your institution’s branding, content, and presence so when your students come, they’ll never want to leave.
The best time to launch an OTT education platform was yesterday. The second best time is today. What are you waiting for? Let us help you get started now!5 STEPS TO MONETIZE YOUR FANHERO PLATFORM
What stops some creators from launching their own platform is financial uncertainty. They don’t know where the money is going to come from. Maybe they’re not reaching their full potential on social media, but at least they understand the process.
If this is holding you back, don’t worry! Here’s how you’re going to start generating revenue with a FanHero platform in 5 steps.
Sign up for a platform.
You can’t win if you’re not in the game! Set up an appointment with a FanHero advisor and get started on building your own platform.
Your advisor will have a lot of technical knowledge, so focus on the business side. Lay out what you want your platform to do and choose features that support those functionalities.
It’s also worth deciding whether you want your branding to be identical to your other platforms. You might want to use generally consistent cross-platform branding with a premium addition or styling element to make your own platform stand out.
Find a balance between fun bonus features and what you definitely need at launch. You want to have a great product in the beginning but also leave room for “upgrades” later to keep things exciting.
Choose the types of monetization you want to use.
The first monetization decision you’ll make is whether your platform will be subscription based, ad-supported, or a pay per view (PPV) model.
Subscription: Users pay a regular monthly fee for full access to your platform.
Ad-supported: There’s no fee, but ads are included across the platform.
Pay per view: Users only pay for the content they view.
You might find that a combination of models works best for your audience. For example, many creators find that having the base app ad-supported with some PPV special events is most attractive to their fans. You could also have a premium ad-free tier that has extra features for those who want to subscribe. Go with the model that fits how your audience likes to engage.
You have access to other monetization options that might be more familiar to you, like:
All the revenue streams you’re used to will be available on your FanHero platform. The difference is they’ll all be more productive because of the greater access to your data (and the audience segmentation that follows).
Populate your platform with content.
While you can use existing content as a base, there should be a healthy amount of content that’s completely new to your audience. You want people who sign up to feel like they’re getting value for their effort.
Have enough available that users can’t casually go through it in a week. (Binge watchers are another matter, but since those tend to be your more loyal fans it’s not a major concern.)
Set up a schedule for updates and stick to it. The audience needs a reason to keep coming back, and they’re easily disappointed when you miss a posting date. You can also let email reminders or push notifications in advance of new events.
As you build your content strategy, make sure there’s a clear path to audience engagement. Active users are more valuable than passive ones, and if fans feel like your platform is an interactive activity they stay engaged longer.
Move your audience from third party platforms to your platform.
This isn’t as hard as it sounds! Your base loves your content. They’ll enjoy having access to more and special content as well as having another way to support you.
Don’t make the move overnight. Build excitement while your platform is under construction. When you’re ready to launch, make the “switch on” a big event across all your third-party platforms.
It’s a good idea to maintain your other platforms as a recruiting funnel. They give you free advertising and a way to hang onto fans until they are ready to move to your platform.
Once your content is up and your audience is using it, money goes into the account you set up with FanHero. There are no extra steps of check-ins.
Plus, you’ll have full transparency on platform financials through a simple-to-use dashboard. You can rest easy knowing you’re in control of your money.
Ready to get started? Claim your free consultation today to find out where FanHero can take you!
HOW TO UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE BETTER BY LEVERAGING YOUR DATA
Whatever your reason for creating content, one thing is always true. The more you know about your audience, the more effective your content will be. If you really want to reach your goals, it’s time to take ownership of your data so you can understand your audience better.
The importance of knowing your audience
Most creators have a “target audience” they tailor their content to- some demographic they’d like to reach. A lot of times these “buyer personas” are made either using outside data (that is, general market information and predictions) or no data at all.
However, your target audience is not the same thing as your actual audience. Your actual audience consists of the people who are watching and engaging with your content right now. It’s based in reality, with actionable information rather than assumptions about a persona.
This is a much more important group than your target audience. Focusing on your actual audience is more productive due to the simple fact that you’re not trying to get their attention- you already have it.
You might ask, “Why is it important to make that distinction? If my actual audience is already watching, can’t I just keep aiming for my target audience and pull them both together?”
The problem with that line of thinking is that when you create content for your target audience without considering your actual audience, you can lose those valuable productive members. With no guarantee you can attract your target audience, that could leave you with falling reach.
You have to find ways to stay true to your brand’s style and messaging while also speaking to your audience. Present content in a way the audience understands and can engage with. Offer things they’re comfortable seeing, plus some extras they might be interested in but don’t know yet.
Knowing your audience and creating for them pays off. You’ll find yourself with more views and richer engagement. Content will be shared more often, and with those who could be interested in becoming a fan as well.
Having a better understanding of your audience has financial benefits, too. You’ll get better access to high-value sponsorships with a well segmented audience, and you can make more efficient use of your production budget.
So…. how do you go about knowing your actual audience?
Owning your data is key
The best measure of what your audience wants is what they do with the content you’ve already shared. Study how they respond to your current and past work by digging into your data.
There are a lot useful metrics to consider:
- Views: What are they watching?
- Time on platform: How long do they spend with your content?
- Bounce rates: What content makes them click away immediately?
- Likes, shares, and comments: What are they engaging with?
- RSVP’s to events: What are they excited about?
- Re-watches: Are they watching certain content again and again?
- Older content with high views: What makes this content evergreen? How can you incorporate that into your ongoing content strategy?
- Live stream attendance: What makes people rearrange their schedule?
- Purchases: What events, merchandise, and digital content inspires a purchase?
- Responsiveness to marketing materials: Are people opening your email or push notifications?
Gathering this data is often the tricky part. You can find some of it- especially views and surface engagement data- using social media metrics. This is usually the first data source most creators use starting out.
However, technically you have no ownership of your social media data. You are only entitled to what the specific platform chooses to share, and they can change or revoke that access at any time.
There are a number of third party tools that can be used to track your current social media statistics and changes over time. You can then correlate that to your content, giving you some insight.
Surveys are a way to gather information directly from your audience. You can ask them what they like and don’t like without having to make guesses from information. This is somewhat limited in scope, though, and using it too much can alienate your audience. People tend not to want to share information about themselves to enjoy content.
A creator-owned platform is the best way to take control of your data. It provides the highest level of transparency into your audience’s behavior surrounding your content. You can integrate analytics tools to track platform activity and present it through an easy-to-read dashboard, taking the work out of
It may take a bit more work to set up, but once a creator-owned platform is running it’s the only option that truly generates enough data to segment your audience and create data-driven user profiles.
How to shape content using your data
You’ve realized that knowing your audience is important, and you’ve gathered your data. Now it’s time to combine the two. Keep these core concepts in mind as you create content.
- Prioritize most effective content: Front-load the content you know will perform well to keep engagement and growth high. 70% of your content should be things that will almost certainly resonate with your audience. 20% can be experimental or personal content you’re testing out. Keep sponsored content at 10% or less to avoid looking like an infomercial.
As experimental content gains popularity, you can start counting it with that 70% effective content. This is one way you can reach towards a target audience without losing your actual audience.
- Present new content in best light. Set yourself up for success by premiering new content in the most effective medium. Does your audience respond best to live streams? Blog posts? Recorded videos?
Use your data to identify the highest levels of engagement and launch new types of content that way whenever possible.
- Read the room. Keep track of how your audience is responding to your content on an ongoing basis. Ask questions like:
- Are most comments positive or negative?
- Do app downloads rise after some types of content?
- What emotes are being used?
- Do emotes match the tone you were aiming for with the content?
- Does some content have very high bounce rates?
- Does some content inspire people to stay on platform longer?
Finally and most importantly, always stay flexible. Your audience can change and evolve, and that’s a good thing. Just keep an eye on your data to be sure you’re on top of the changes so you can grow along with them.
Ready to take ownership of your data? FanHero can give you a backstage pass to your audience with a high-powered suite of analytics tools. Reach out today to find out what’s possible!WHAT DO YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A CMS?
OTT platforms are growing as companies embrace enterprise streaming and creators take control of their content. To exercise that control, though, you need to get familiar with your CMS.
Don’t be intimidated. The entire point of a CMS is to be approachable, freeing you to focus on content instead of technology. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
WHAT IS A CMS?
CMS stands for “content management system”. It’s an interface that allows you to manage a website or OTT platform without writing a single line of code. A CMS is absolutely essential for non-technical users who still want to have direct control over how things work.
Building a CMS does involve coding, so you do need someone knowledgeable to set it up. Once that’s done, however, you can update, rearrange, and add to your platform using user-friendly tools.
LIFE WITHOUT A CMS
Without a CMS, you need coding skills to do anything at all with your OTT platform. Here’s a simplified overview of what that looks like:
- Create whatever content is to be added, or decide what you’re going to change.
- Download the HTML files for the page you are going to work with.
- Use HTML and CSS to add the new text as well as graphics, navigation arrows, and other visual elements, then design them to follow company branding guidelines.
- Double check that no links or elements were broken by the new code. Not all code plays well together, and it’s common for an element that hasn’t been maintained to interfere with new elements.
- Upload the file back to the server.
- Content appears on the website.
- Repeat for every page to be edited.
With so many complex steps, there’s a lot of room for error. Someone who doesn’t fully understand what they’re doing can break an entire website trying to update a blog or add a photo to a gallery.
You could send your team to coding lessons to learn how to handle the system- but is that really in your best financial interests? If you aren’t specifically in the business of building OTT platforms, that’s a more granular approach than you really need.
Worse, it takes time that your employees could more efficiently use on their core business tasks. Their other skills go underutilized because they’re having to spend half the morning posting a video.
Even for companies with IT departments, a CMS makes sense. IT has more pressing things to do than updating your website or uploading new content to training pages. With those user-level tasks taken off their plates, they can focus on higher level technical issues.
TAKING CONTROL BACK INTO YOUR HANDS
How different is using a CMS? Let’s take a look at the same updating process with a CMS:
- Create the content to be added.
- Open the CMS interface. If you’re already logged into your website, this can be as easy as clicking a link or tab.
- Use intuitive tools and text boxes to add content, then apply styling using tools similar to other programs you use regularly. For example, inputting text is very similar to how common word processors work. You can even embed video and links through this same interface.
- Consult a user-friendly checklist to manage SEO optimization, social media sharing, or other functions that have been made available at your level.
- Publish the content, or push it to an editorial team for approval.
- Content appears on the website.
There are fewer steps, and every one of them is more approachable than it would be without a CMS. The whole process is fast, simple, and safe. Best of all, new users can be trained on the CMS in a single day.
WHAT CAN A CMS DO FOR YOU?
The most obvious thing a CMS is used for is content curation. It gives you direct control over your content, letting you make changes personally without having to send a work order to IT.
A CMS is especially helpful for projects that require collaboration. More than one person can be using the CMS at the same time for the same purpose (for example, writing a blog post). If higher approval is needed, users can push their finished to an editing team at the click of a button.
Because the CMS is fast and easy to use, you can push updates more often. This keeps your audience engaged and helps build brand loyalty.
Plus, you’re not spending time you could use more productively elsewhere poring over lines of code. That by itself would be enough to recommend a CMS- but it’s far from the only benefit.
Maintain brand consistency
A CMS enforces your branding and styling across your entire platform. Though this is a subtle advantage, it’s a powerful one.
There are templates for new pages, preset colors and page design elements, and a full set of pre-approved functionalities to create a cohesive visual experience.
When every user’s content is automatically given the same visual elements and styling, your platform gives viewers a more professional impression than if each person tried to interpret a style sheet when designing a page.
Control user roles
When more than one person will be editing the platform, you can assign different levels of access based on what each position involves. Specifically:
- Who can change the base code and formatting? (This should be reserved for a very few people, all who have the technical skills necessary.)
- Who can add widgets or extensions?
- Who can publish new content without approval?
- Who can add new content, but still needs it approved?
The CMS automatically directs any alerts where they’re needed. Support requests go to support role holders, marketing interactions are visible to marketing and executives, editors get notifications to approve content, and so one.
A person can hold more than one role, as well. They will have the highest level of access to a specific function offered by any of their roles, so be thoughtful when assigning roles.
Having platform access controlled by a CMS gives you peace of mind when delegating responsibilities, since you know each user can only act within their specific roles.
For creators, this means they can let an assistant post content while they work on new projects. For enterprise users, content can be created by staffers and approved by the management team as they have time.
Raise SEO rankings
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most critical aspects of any online presence. Better SEO leads to higher brand awareness and more sales leads.
With a CMS, SEO is straightforward and intuitive. Most include automatic indexing options, and there’s a host of tools that can be added during development to walk users through SEO procedures.
Even entry-level CMS users are able to check on their SEO quality using a dashboard that helps them:
- Specify keywords and phrases
- Customize page titles and meta descriptions
- Add alt text to images and video
The dashboard provides a dynamic evaluation of SEO quality as content is input and will prompt users when change is needed. If the keyword density is too low, or the keywords aren’t used in the right places to rank high, both entry users and editors can see that at a glance.
Ease of posting has been brought up a few times so far, but it’s worth mentioning here because frequent updates boost SEO rankings. Platforms that update often are seen as more relevant by search engines and will appear higher in searches.
Owning your data is one of the strongest advantages of owning a platform as opposed to using existing platforms like YouTube or Medium. The CMS can be designed to give you easy insight into that data through dynamic dashboards and statistics panels.
Use your CMS dashboards to answer questions like:
- What content is performing well? What isn’t?
- Where are visitors coming from?
- How long do they stay?
- How often do they come back?
You can choose during development to integrate more analytics tools into your CMS to track things like user behavior across platforms and how they navigate your site. That offers valuable insight to guide your future decisions.
Improve user experience
A CMS isn’t only for your convenience. It gives your users a better experience, too. They benefit from easy to find and use search functions and responsive support channels.
Your CMS performs the all-important task of device optimization for a consistent experience on desktop or mobile. (Being mobile friendly also boosts your SEO rankings; many of these advantages play into each other.)
You know what a CMS is and why it matters… now what?
Now that you know how valuable a tool your CMS is, you can use that to your advantage. Really engage with your developer when setting up your website or OTT platform. Share any pain points in your current process, and ask questions about what’s possible to explore how much you can get out of your new CMS.
Make CMS training a priority for your team, too, so they can get in on the action.
A CMS can be one of your most effective digital tools. The more you understand it, the more effectively you can use it to meet your business goals.
At FanHero, we specialize in customizing a CMS for each of our partner’s needs. If you’re having trouble managing your “one size fits all” platform, we can design one that has your goals built in from the start.