An over-the-top (OTT) media service is a media service offered directly to viewers via the
Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''network of networks'' t ...

. OTT bypasses cable,
broadcast Broadcasting is the distribution (business), distribution of sound, audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic medium (communication), mass communications medium, but typically one using the electromagnetic spectrum (radio ...
, and
satellite television Satellite television is a service that delivers television programming to viewers by relaying it from a communications satellite orbiting the Earth directly to the viewer's location. The signals are received via an outdoor parabolic antenna commonl ...
platforms, the types of companies which traditionally act as controllers or distributors of such content. It has also been used to describe no-carrier cellphones, where all communications are charged as data, avoiding monopolistic competition, or apps for phones that transmit data in this manner, including both those that replace other call methods and those that update software. The term is most synonymous with subscription-based video-on-demand (SVoD) services that offer access to film and television content (including existing series acquired from other producers, as well as original content produced specifically for the service). OTT also encompasses a wave of "skinny" television services that offer access to live streams of linear
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s, similar to a traditional satellite or cable TV provider, but streamed over the public
Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''network of networks'' t ...

, rather than a closed, private network with proprietary equipment such as set-top boxes. Over-the-top services are typically accessed via websites on
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s, as well as via mobile app, apps on mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablet computer, tablets), digital media players (including video game consoles), or televisions with integrated Smart TV platforms.


In 2011, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada's telecom regulator, stated that it "considers that Internet access to programming independent of a facility or network dedicated to its delivery (via, for example, cable or satellite) is the defining feature of what have been termed 'over-the-top' services". In contrast to video on demand video-delivery systems offered by cable and IPTV, which are tightly managed networks where channels can be changed instantly, some OTT services such as iTunes require that the video be downloaded first and then played, while other OTT players such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Prime Video, Amazon Prime Video, offer movie downloads that start playing before the download completes (streaming). The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) categorizes the OTT services into two groups: multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs); and online video distributors (OVDs). Virtual MVPDs include such varied services as AT&T TV, FuboTV, Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV. An OVD was defined by the FCC as:


In broadcasting, ''over-the-top (OTT) content'' is the audio, video, and other media content delivered over the Internet, without the involvement of a multiple-system operator (MSO) in the control or distribution of the content. The Internet provider may be aware of the contents of the Internet Protocol (IP) packets but is not responsible for, nor able to control, the viewing abilities, copyrights, and/or other redistribution of the content. This model contrasts with the purchasing or rental of video or audio content from an Internet service provider (ISP), such as pay television, video on demand, and from internet protocol television (IPTV). OTT refers to content from a third party that is delivered to an end-user, with the ISP simply transporting IP packets.

Types of content

OTT television, usually called Internet television, online television or internet television or streaming television, remains the most popular OTT content. This signal is received over the Internet or through a cell phone network, as opposed to receiving the television signal from a terrestrial broadcast or satellite. Access is controlled by the video distributor, through either an app or a separate OTT dongle or box, connected to a phone, PC or smart television set. By mid-2017, 58 per cent of US households would access one in a given month and advertising revenues from OTT channels exceeded those from web browser plug-ins. The record of simultaneous users watching an OTT event was set at 18.6 million by Disney, Disney's Indian video streaming platform Hotstar. OTT messaging is defined as instant messaging services or online chat provided by third parties, as an alternative to text messaging services provided by a mobile network operator. An example is the Facebook-owned mobile application WhatsApp, that serves to replace text messaging on Internet connected smartphones. Other providers of OTT messaging include Viber, WeChat, FaceTime, Skype, Telegram (software), Telegram and the now defunct Google Allo. OTT voice calling, usually called VoIP, capabilities, for instance, as provided by Skype, WeChat, Viber, and WhatsApp use open internet communication protocols to replace and sometimes enhance existing operator controlled services offered by mobile phone operators.

Modes of access

Consumers can access OTT content through Internet access, Internet-connected devices such as smartphones, phones (including Android (operating system), Android and iOS mobile devices, smart TVs (such as Google TV and LG Electronics' Channel Plus), set-top boxes (such as Apple TV, NVidia Shield, Nvidia Shield, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV, and Roku), gaming consoles (such as the PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One), Tablet computer, tablets, and desktop and laptop computers. As of 2019, Android (operating system), Android and iOS users make up more than 45% of the total OTT content streaming audience, while 39% of users use the web to access OTT content.

See also

* Access-independent services * Content delivery network * Home theater PC * Internet television * List of Internet television providers * Multi-screen video * Multichannel television in the United States * Streaming media * YuppTV


Further reading

* Announcement of release Report. * {{Authority control Internet television Net neutrality Set-top box