Set-Top Box-Lexicon: It Is So 'Over'

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 have Set-Top Boxes, whether Analog or Digital (What Are Set-Top Boxes?) and hardware that helps to migrate from analog to digital. But there are ways to transmit signals that either bypass the box entirely or that are in place of a box, whether it is considered Over The Air (OTA) or Over The Top (OTT). In either case, the method of capturing usage data from the box faces challenges.

The ability to bypass the box is not an inconsequential matter when it comes to Set-Top Box measurement. On the one hand, the current percentage of OTA (over the air) television homes on a national basis in the United States is less than 10% according to Nielsen and many pundits say that over time this percentage will diminish to a relatively small level. But on a local basis, the issue of OTA is more pronounced and impacts the ability to use Set-Top Box data as local measurement without significantly modeling the data. The percentage of OTA in some markets is substantial. For example Milwaukee, a top 50 market, is 22% over the air. 



Here are the terms and definitions associated with bypassing the Set-Top Box: 

OTA abbr Over The Air

CIMM DEFINITION : Can either mean terrestrial television signals that are not transmitted digitally or, with cell phones, the ability to distribute and upgrade software wirelessly. 

2 : Households that receive broadcast signals only on their television sets, with no connection to cable, satellite or another form of  Alternate Delivery System (ADS).  An individual, operating TV set in the home can also be designated as OTA if it has no such connection as described above. (Source: Rentrak)


Over The Top

CIMM DEFINITION : When the TV receives a signal that is irrespective of the Set-Top Box. 

2 : Content viewed that is delivered via broadband streaming or download. (Source: TIVO)



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

1 comment about "Set-Top Box-Lexicon: It Is So 'Over'".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 14, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.

    I wish there was a different name than "set-top"! It made perfect sense when the box was set on top the TV set, but now the box is merely attached (a set-behind box, or a set-under box). Is there not a better term? The Brits call it a digibox, but that term is awkward. I've heard net-top box, but it's too cute. Maybe someone should have a contest?

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