Stands for "Over-the-top." OTT refers to data sent over the Internet that bypasses traditional mediums. Two common examples include OTT content and OTT messaging.

Over-the-top Content

Over-the-top content refers to movies and television shows that are delivered directly to users. Instead of requiring a cable or satellite television subscription, OTT content can be downloaded and viewed on demand. Popular OTT mediums include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Now. Free services like YouTube and Vimeo are also considered OTT, though they compete less directly with television providers.

OTT services do not offer a list of channels. Instead, shows and movies must be selected individually and watched on demand. While traditional providers like Comcast and DIRECTV offer on demand content as well as live shows, their monthly fees are typically several times those of OTT providers. Because OTT service is relatively cheap ($8 - $15 per month), many users purchase multiple OTT subscriptions as an alternative to cable or satellite TV.

Over-the-top Messaging

For many years, text messaging (or SMS messaging) was the standard way to message someone using a mobile phone. In 2009, WhatsApp introduced a free way to message other users without using SMS. Apple introduced iMessage in 2011, which uses Apple's own free messaging service rather than SMS or MMS. As these alternative messaging options grew in popularity, many cellular service providers increased their monthly messaging limits for users and many plans now offer unlimited messaging.

NOTE: Both OTT content and messaging still require internet access, such cable, DSL, or a cellular data connection. Therefore, many Netflix subscribers still use Comcast for their Internet connection.

Updated March 18, 2016 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Netflix and Amazon Prime media content is aslo called what?

Underground media
Over-the-top content
Wired media
Wireless content
Correct! Incorrect!     View the OTT definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of OTT on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.