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Video file formats for OTT platforms

Dec 21, 2022

OTT platforms are called the future of entertainment, and they're already here. If you are just getting started with video streaming, it will be useful for you to know what opportunities open up for you with this tool and what file formats are right for you to work with.

What is an OTT platform

Over-the-Top is a tool for delivering media content over the Internet.

There are 3 categories of OTT platforms - for messaging (WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.); for exchanging audio and video calls over the Internet (VoIP). These are the same social networks, and special conference platforms (Zoom, FaceTime, Skype); to view media content through an application or website (Netflix and Spotify, educational resources).

For example, you pay the ISP to access the Internet and watch Netflix. However, you do not pay for cable TV.

OTT provides access to linear specialized channels, but broadcasts them openly on the Internet. Unlike satellite and cable TV.

To access information from these channels, you need to install a special application on your mobile phone or open a website on your computer. Additional services are also available through digital media players (including game consoles) or televisions with built-in Smart TV platforms.

Advantages of OTT platform

  • The price is lower, compared to cable and digital TV;

  • Original content. Netflix and Amazon Prime, for example, offer exclusive subscription content produced by them;

  • Compatibility with different devices. To watch cable you need a TV. To watch a series on Netflix, all you need is an internet connection and a compatible hardware device.

OTT venues are known as”the cord-cutting revolution” and they are a strong internet alternative to traditional data services. 

10 most popular OTT streaming services:

1. Netflix


3. Hulu

4. ESPN+

5. Prime Video

6. HBO Max

7. YouTube TV

8. Starz

9. Sling TV

10. Peacock

File formats for OTT platforms

What is file format

The format allows you to store and transfer data. For example, to find out in what format the video is stored and what software to open it, you need the "extension" of the file.

Standard definition (SD) uncompressed in an Audio-Video Interleaved (AVI) container file is suitable for archival storage.

Streamers need to consider the type of container they use if they wish to transfer files in good quality without delay. The wrong combination may load the OTT system.

A different format is used for a different purpose.

We wrote in detail about how the formats work, as well as codecs and containers for them, in the article : What is video encoding? 

Therefore, now we’d like to talk about what formats are and what they are for.

The most common video file formats


Despite being released over 20 years ago, it is often used due to its versatility and compatibility with many devices (HTML5 Brid.TV and others) and streaming services (YouTube).

Pros :

  • It compresses the file without significantly deteriorating its quality.


  • Format promotes piracy on the network, as it is easy to change the metadata of the file.

  • Re-encoding degrades the quality of the video.


WebM is open source, so it often gets updated. The playback of small files is flawless. Works for all popular browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc.).

Suitable for streaming. Compatible with popular online streaming platforms (such as YouTube).


  • Does not always sync correctly with mobile devices.

  • If you have an old version of the browser or the player - you will likely get errors.


Compatible with iOS, Windows, popular codecs. Suitable for broadcasting on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Apple developed this format to store long, full-length movies. Hence the high video bitrate and good image quality.

MOV stores multimedia elements as separate tracks.


  • Average file size is usually large.

  • Compatible with QuickTime and VLC only.

  • If you stream from Facebook and Instagram - then you are limited to 4 GB.


Oldest format. Microsoft developed it 30 years ago, but it's still widely used today. It is compatible with any device on Windows, Mac or Linux and with all popular Internet browsers and platforms.

Most commonly, it is used in television because it allows high-quality video and audio transmission. It is also suitable for small videos, promotional videos, commercials and teasers.


  • Memory-taxing.

  • Does not cope with the features of streaming video.

  • Compression results in quality loss.


The source code is open, which means regular updates.

This principle of work and the name are derived from Russian matryoshka dolls. This format can accommodate an unlimited number of video or audio tracks.

What does it look like in practice? For example, you have translated your video into different languages. This format will save everything as different tracks. The same applies for tracks, menus, chapters and other elements.

Supports almost all codecs.


Not all players and devices “love” it. MKV files are big and take up a lot of space. The compression process is long.

6. WMV

If you need to store a lot of data but don't have much space, use this format.

The compression ratio is twice that of MPEG-4. Quality is preserved. It can be either a container or a codec.

WMV was developed by Microsoft and is compatible with Windows Media Player and other Windows programs, including Microsoft PowerPoint and other earlier versions of software.


  • The format is not standard and is incompatible with other operating systems.

  • Automatic compression cannot be manually adjusted.


It was designed to be used with video cameras and digital cameras. Sony and Panasonic developed it together. So this format is compatible with all their products. Canon cameras also support this format.

The result is high quality video, support for 3D video in the latest version. Lossless encoding using the H.264 codec. The format is compatible with Blu-ray and memory cards.


  • Heavy files take up a lot of space.

  • Limited compatibility.

  • Editing is considered difficult.


FLV format is on the verge of extinction. Deprecated after Adobe stopped updating the Adobe Flash Player in 2020. The alternative is HTML5, H.264 codec.

How to choose the best video file format?

It depends on what you are going to do.

MP4 is suitable for uploading videos to a streaming platform and storing files on a device.

MOV - for watching full-length movies on iOS.

AVI is best for short videos: clips, advertisements.

MKV - if you need several audiotracks and to be able to switch between them.

WMV - if you need to send a video by mail, upload it to the cloud or place it on a site where there are already a lot of video files.

AVCHD - if you need to work with high-quality video files recorded on a professional camera or in 3D format.

WebM is suitable for broadcasting live video and creating an online library. Considered one of the best OTT video file formats, it supports the H.264 codec.

FLV - for outdated devices and nostalgia.

If you are just starting to work with video data transfer, then at first you may be confused about the compatibility of devices and formats of your files.

Regardless of which format you're comfortable using, there are a few things you don't have to worry about if you're in the broadcast industry.

Callaba Cloud features allow you not to worry about video quality, compatibility with various devices, as well as providing multi language translation during live broadcast.

We invite you to try all broadcasting technologies within one SaaS solution in a 5-day free trial.

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