Over-the-Top Application

What Does Over-the-Top Application Mean?

An over-the-top (OTT) application is any app or service that provides a product over the Internet and bypasses traditional distribution. Services that come over the top are most typically related to media and communication and are generally, if not always, lower in cost than the traditional method of delivery.

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Techopedia Explains Over-the-Top Application

You can think of an over-the-top application as anything that disrupts traditional billing models – from telcos or cable/satellite companies. Examples include Hulu or Netflix for video (replacing your regular TV provider) or Skype (replacing your long distance provider).

The creation of OTT applications has led to a wide-ranging conflict between companies that offer similar or overlapping services. The traditional ISPs and telcos have had to anticipate challenges related to third-party firms that offer over-the-top applications. Think, for example, of the conflict between a company like Netflix and a cable company. Consumers still pay the cable company for access to the Internet, but they might get rid of their cable package in favor of the cheaper streaming video over the Internet. While the cable company wants to offer fast downloads, there is an inherent conflict of interest in not supporting a competitor, like Netflix, that bypasses cable’s traditional distribution channel.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.