Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (vMVPD)

Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (vMVPDs) provide multiple linear television channels as an OTT service

MVPD is a technical term for cable and broadcast television operators. Cable operators deliver television content via fixed-line cables, whereas broadcast/ satellite television operators deliver content via geostationary satellites, which are received by dish antennas installed at the user’s premises. Examples of major cable operators in the US include Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, whereas major satellite broadcasters are DirecTV and SlingTV.

The term MVPD has evolved to include OTT services offering linear television content. Virtual MVPDs provide viewers the option to choose from multiple channels, all of them displaying linear content. Virtual MVPDs may also have a range of on-demand content - either original or by aggregating other streaming services.

Popular MVPDs in the US are SlingTV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV and Hulu Live. MVPD services are generally offered by companies that are already established in an adjacent space. For instance Dish Network (parent company of Sling TV) and DirectTV are the dominant satellite television broadcasting services in the US. PlayStation Vue is an expansion of the PlayStation gaming console to include OTT streaming. Both YouTube and Hulu have plenty of on-demand content, and offer Linear TV channels for customers who are accustomed to watching TV that way.

The “skinny” bundles being offered by vMVPDs are the best (and cheapest) alternative to cable subscription, which is accelerating the practice of users cutting the cord. For this reason most cable companies are increasingly opting to offer their own OTT services, as well as add OTT streaming as part of their cable package, as Comcast has done with their Xfinity X1, for instance