Set-Top Box Lexicon:The MVPDs

CIMM's Set-Top Box Data Lexicon is a compilation of terms and definitions associated with Set-Top Box data and its measurement. This Word-A-Week column highlights a term and definition from the Lexicon to help forge a common language for Set-Top Box data usage and expedite the roll-out of the data for its many industry applications. 

We know them as "MSO," "Satco" and "Telco." These are the companies who are considered the "data originators" -- those that are at the source of the Set-Top Box Data. But a new acronym has emerged to describe these types of companies as a group. These companies are now termed Multi-channel Video Programming Distributors, or MVPDs for short. 

Interestingly, at the time that the CIMM Lexicon was written, the term MVPD had not entered the nomenclature. The terms Multi-Channel Operator or Multiple Service Provider tended to be used as the generic. However since then, MVPD has become the term of choice that appears to capture the full range of company types at the source of Set-Top Box Data. This is because these company types have expanded beyond the realm of MSOs, Telcos and Satcos.



There are differences in how all the different types of MVPDs transmit and capture Set-Top Box Data based on their hardware and software. For example, Satellite companies transmit and receive return path data via the telephone lines while MSOs receive signals via cable.

Here are the many, many terms and definitions related to MVPDs. Please email us with any others that we might have missed: 

ADS abbr Alternate Delivery System

(Same acronym for Ad Decision Servers)

CIMM DEFINITION : Used in both local and national arenas, it refers to signals delivered by means other than via cable and over-the-air, such as satellite and Telco.


Multi-Channel Operator

See also: Multiple Systems Operator, Multiple Service Operator

CIMM DEFINITION : Video content and service providers usually referred to as MSOs, Satellite companies (Satcos) and Telephony companies (Telcos).


MSP abbr Multiple Service Provider

See also: Multiple Systems Operator, Multi-Channel Operator

CIMM DEFINITION : A company that contracts with a subscriber to provide media services such as television, telephone and internet.

MSO abbr Multiple Systems Operator

See also: Multiple Service Provider, Multi-Channel Operator

CIMM DEFINITION : Companies that own and operate a number of individual cable systems in the US and Canada. 

2 : A cable company that serves multiple cable systems. Commonly accepted as a definition of large cable companies. (Source: Nielsen)



CIMM DEFINITION : Device located in geostationary orbit above the earth which receives transmissions from separate points and retransmits them to cable systems, DBS and others over a wide area. (Source: CableLabs)

2 : Synchronous communications satellites orbiting earth from a stationary position transmitting television and other signals. (Source: Nielsen)


DBS abbr Digital Broadcast Satellite

(Same acronym for Direct Broadcast Satellite)

CIMM DEFINITION : TV programming or other content transmitted via high-powered satellite to a dish mounted outdoors whether on a residence or a business e.g. DIRECTV and Dish Network.


DBS abbr Direct Broadcast Satellite

(Same acronym for Digital Broadcast Satellite)

CIMM DEFINITION : Satellites powerful enough (approximately 120 watts on the Ku-band) to transmit a signal directly to a medium or small receiving dish (antenna) at 18" and 3 feet in diameter. DBS does not require reception and distribution by an intermediate broadcasting facility and transmits directly to the end user. (Source:

2 : Satellite broadcasts intended for home reception also referred to more broadly as direct-to-home signals. (Source: IAB)



CIMM DEFINITION : An abbreviated term referring to a telecommunications or telephone company. (Source: Nielsen) 

Please refer to the CIMM Lexicon online at for additional information on these and other terms.

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