The Ultimate Cord Cutters Glossary

Whether you’re new to cord cutting or a cord cutter veteran, there’s a lot to know about making the switch over from cable. Fortunately, we’re here to help you make sense of some of the complicated cord cutter jargon you’ve likely already seen.

You can use this glossary to stay updated on the latest cord cutter terms and learn some old ones as well. This is a working list, and as the streaming space continues to change, we’ll continue to keep you in the know.

Top Terms

All Terms

Streaming

AVOD: Acronym for Advertising Supported Video on Demand.

Streaming services that are available at no charge to the user but made possible by the addition of advertising within the on demand programming.

OTA: Acronym for Over The Air.

Used to describe a wireless transmission of data to a device. Commonly used to describe a software update to a mobile device or a radio/TV broadcast.

OTT: Acronym for Over The Top.

Used to describe the process of streaming television or film content via the internet without the added cost of a cable subscription or satellite pay TV service.

Satellite Pay TV Service

A television service that uses a satellite to deliver TV services to a consumer’s home.

Streaming

Accessing on demand content online from a streaming provider via your phone, television, laptop, or other connected device.

Read our reviews for Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix.

SVOD: Acronym for Subscription Video on Demand.

Used to describe streaming services that are accessible via a subscription.

Streaming Equipment

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Amazon’s streaming device that plugs into your television. Allows you to watch on demand content, access the internet via your wireless network, and connects directly to your Amazon account to make purchases.

Read our review for the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Buy from Amazon.com.

Antenna

A device, usually a rod or wire, that transmits and receives radio and television signals.

Apple TV 4K

Apple’s streaming device that plugs directly into television. Allows you to watch on demand content and access the internet via your wireless network.

Read our review for Apple TV 4K.

Buy from Amazon.com, Best Buy, Walmart, and Apple.

Cable TV

Any system that receives network information from a coaxial cable or fiber-optic cable. Read more about cable in our data center.

DSL: Acronym for Digital Subscriber Line.

A modem that connects a computer or router to a telephone line which establishes a connection to the internet.

External Tuner

A set-top television tuner that is used to display TV on a monitor or other screen.

Fiber-Optic Cable

A cable that transmits data over long distances and connects to devices in your home to provide high bandwidth internet connectivity.

Gaming systems

Systems such as the Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch that allow users to play video games, connect to the internet, and stream content.

Google Chromecast

Google’s media streaming device that gives you access to multiple streaming services.

Read our review for Google Chromecast.

Low-Earth Orbit Satellite

A satellite that circles above the Earth between 500 and 2,000 kilometers and usually provides internet for a variety of industries including: communications and the military.

Modem

A wired box that connects your home to the wider internet.

Roku

A streaming device that plugs into your television and allows you to watch content and access streaming services.

Read our review for the Roku Streaming Stick.

Buy from Amazon.com, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Staples, and the official Roku website.

Router

A wired box that connects all the devices within your home and allows them to talk to one another without the use of the internet.

Satellite Dish

An antenna that receives transmissions from communication satellites usually to provide programming via a cable TV service.

Smart TV

A television that is connected to the internet and provides users with access to streaming services.

Read our Smart TV review.

Streaming Device

A device that gives one access to on demand content services such as: Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, etc.

Internet

Bit

The smallest unit of storage in digital communications.

Bitrate

The number of bits per second transmitted in a given digital network.

Broadband

The most common form of internet access which allows you to connect to the internet without a phone line connection. It is faster than the traditional dial-up set up and the four types of Broadband internet are: DSL, Fiber-Optic, Satellite, and Cable.

Digital Network

A virtual network that allows for the transmission of digital data among connected devices.

ISP: Acronym for Internet Service Provider.

Used to describe carriers and services that provide consumers with the ability to connect their devices to the internet.

Lag

A term used to describe a slow or unresponsive device connected to the internet or while viewing content.

An acronym for megabits per second. A measurement for download and upload speeds.

Starlink

A constellation satellite that is currently in construction as of 2020. Once complete, the satellite will provide users with internet satellite access.

5G

Fifth generation cellular wireless that the four major US carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) offer. Allows users the ability to connect more devices to the internet, connect at quicker speeds, and be more responsive to different streaming queries and requests.

Video & Display

Black Levels

The level of light at the darkest part of a screen or the brightness level at which no light is emitted from a screen.

FALD

Acronym for Full Array Local Dimming. A type of lighting for LED TVs in which LEDS are placed behind the screen, lighting different areas or “light zones” on the screen that provide enhanced shadow and decreases light bleed.

HDR

Acronym for High Dynamic Range. A type of image quality used in televisions that balances light and dark colors, adding a sense of realism to a scene and ensuring that important aspects of it are visible.

LED: Acronym for Light-Emitting Diodes.

A display that emits LEDs as pixels to project scenes onto a screen.

Light Bleed

Occurs when light can be seen along the edges of an LED screen.

Local Dimming

LED screens that can dim areas of a screen that don’t need it while maintaining the brightness of the screen for parts that require more light.

OLED: Acronym for Organic Light-Emitting Diode.

A type of LED TV in which every pixel is an LED light and generates light and color simultaneously. 

QLED: Acronym for Quantum Light-Emitting Diode.

A type of LED TV that uses quantum dots to make colors and brightness more vibrant.

1080p

A vertical resolution for High Definition TVs that is characterized by 1,080 vertical pixels.

4K

A type of image quality used in televisions that provides a sharp image quality that is usually around 8.3 million pixels. 

8K

A type of image quality used in televisions that provides a sharper image quality than 4k and usually has around 33 million pixels. 

Audio

Dolby Surround Sound

A type of sound technology used in some speakers that produces sound on five full-bandwidths: front left, front right, center, surround left, and surround right to immerse listeners in sound.

5.1 Audio

The name for six channel audio surround systems.

7.1 Audio

The name for eight channel audio surround systems.

Other Cord Cutting Terms

IPTV

Acronym for Internet Protocol Television. The delivery of television over internet protocol networks.

Piracy

Downloading digital copyrighted content without permission.

ATSC 3.0: Acronym for Advanced Television Systems Committee

An upgrade for existing ATSC standards that now supports higher 4k and 8k resolutions, provides better sound quality, and enhances the experience of internet users.