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The Cord Cutter’s Glossary

Cord cutting is when you get rid of your cable TV package and stream your entertainment over the Internet or over the air. But there’s a little more to it than this, so here’s some helpful terminology. 


A cable-never is an industry term for someone who never had cable TV so they’ve never had to get rid of a cable TV package.

Cord Shaving 

Cord shaving is when you reduce the size of your cable TV package but don’t get rid of it entirely. Cord shavers get rid of as much of their cable TV service as possible while still keeping the most important programs that they can’t access by other means. After all, the average Canadian household is spending $65 a month on cable, but a skinny basic package might start around $25. They get the rest of their video content like cord cutters: via streaming services or through a digital antenna. If you want to consider cord shaving, ask yourself these questions first.

Over the Air Content 

Over the Air (OTA) content is TV delivered wirelessly, just like the days of bunny ears on top of your TV set. However, to view modern OTA content, you need a digital antenna. Most major networks, like the CBC and Global, deliver OTA content that you may be able to pick up, depending on where you live and their broadcasting location. Of course, OTA content is free. For more, read our smart guide to digital antennas

Over the Top Content 

Over the Top (OTT) content is TV and other media delivered via the Internet without the needing a cable or satellite package. OTT content may be from a streaming service you pay for, like Netflix, or it could be from a free source, like YouTube. You will need a streaming device or smart TV to watch OTT content on your TV. 


Streaming media is media that is sent to you while you’re watching it. Compare this to downloading, which requires you to receive the entire file before you can open it and begin to watch it. 

Streaming Device 

A streaming device is a gadget that lets you view OTT content on your TV. There are dedicated streaming devices out there, like Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Firestick, Apple TV, and more. You can also stream OTT content via other devices, like game consoles, some Blu-ray players, and smart TVs. Take a look at our discussion of the pros and cons of different streaming devices here

Streaming Service

A streaming service sells you OTT content. The most well-known streaming service in Canada is Netflix, but there are also others like Amazon Prime, CraveTV, CBC Gem, and NHL Live. Also, Hulu has announced that they’re coming to Canada. 

Smart TV

A smart TV is a TV with Internet connectivity and an interface that lets you connect to different streaming services and other Internet content. With a regular TV, you connect your streaming device to your Internet service (e.g. WiFi network), which you then connect to your TV. With a smart TV, there’s no need for the middle step. You connect your TV directly to your Internet service. More and more TVs sold are now smart TVs. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of cutting the cord, here are five questions you should ask yourself. If you want to know more about the numbers regarding cord cutting, read this. And if you’re ready to cut the cord, here’s how you can do it in five easy steps.