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. 

Example: Masterclass

  • 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. 

Example: Udemy

  • 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.

Example: Coursera

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!

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