On-Demand, Over-The-Top Travel Programming, Explained

One of the leading Over-The-Top (OTT) travel video networks, PlanesTrains+Automobiles, or PTA for short, has built a brand of digital programming and distribution that engages audiences during their actual travel journey.

On-demand OTT networks are designed for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer distribution, delivering content to consumers when and where they want it, from laptops and mobile to in-flight screens.

The company launched in 2014, responding to the need for travel programming on Roku, Amazon FireTV, and others in the growing streaming TV sector.

Following that, PTA began partnering with major travel brands to both develop and distribute content. For example, PTA supplies TV programming on Delta’s Studio platform, content for airport displays powered by Clear TV, and a dedicated 24/7 streaming TV channel in hotel rooms powered by Sonifi (formerly LodgeNet).

“These platforms are considered ancillary to traditional broadcast and cable programmers,” says Betsy Sanner, VP of programming & production at PTA Networks. “However, PTA services them as primary distribution channels and borrows from a more traditional playbook of affiliate marketing in order to gain visibility.”

Today PTA is available to an addressable audience of more than 55 million viewers found in the places where they are inspired, informed and thinking about travel.

The flexibility of digital distribution allows PTA to produce programming based purely on story rather than filling the 760 clock hours per month that a 24/7 linear network has to consider. They are able to package and program long- and short-form shows harmoniously across all platforms.  

PTA reports their audience spending an average of over 30 minutes per session, so the company is  continuing to invest  in longer TV formats. They have also made the conscious decision to create all their original series in no less than 4K UHD fidelity due to distributor demand and consumer interest in exploring the world in ultimate resolution.

On Demand Local Content

The company’s travel content focuses on slice-of-life narratives revolving around interesting people doing cool things in local neighborhoods that are attractive to savvy travelers. Current  programming concentrates on  Chicago, London, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, with more destinations in development.

Sanner says, “We focus on the where, when and how people travel to make a bigger impact in the travel media landscape, where choices feel unlimited and brand tentpoles matter more than ever.”

For example, the new Foreign In The USA series uncovers unique destinations in America with a high concentration of immigrants. The first episode immerses viewers within the large concentration of Russian and Ukraine populations in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

In another segment, PTA profiles the Caribbean-born owner of the tiny LoLo’s Seafood Shack tucked away in Harlem, where locals line up for the spicy jerk chicken and Belizean conch fritters.

Sanner adds that on-demand digital programming today doesn’t always mean short-form storytelling. Demand for quality is at an all time high and screens playing streaming video are everywhere, so there’s room for all different content formats and lengths.

“Our content is not about showing what’s super trendy, like the hottest restaurant at any given period of time,” says Sanner. “It’s more about meeting the people in the local community who are doing unique things to make their neighborhood more interesting.”

This content was created collaboratively with Travel Channel. 

Moving Images explores the new era of travel video, from new platforms and technology to best practices from forward-thinking brands and content creators. View the full dashboard.

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