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What Is Over-the-Top Content?

More and more Canadians are abandoning cable (or never signing up in the first place) and switching to OTT content. But what is OTT content? 

OTT stands for over-the-top, and OTT content is just video and other media transmitted via the Internet without the help of a cable or satellite package. It’s growing at a fast rate too; a record 202,000 Canadians cut the cord last year.

(Note: if you’re wondering if cutting the cord is right for you, we have some thoughts on that. And if you’ve already decided that you’re done with cable, we can tell you how to cut the cord in five easy steps.) 

There are lots of ways to access OTT, but you’ll need two things: a subscription service and some hardware. Netflix dominates the world of subscription services, but Canadians can also choose from a dozen or so services, such as Amazon, Crave, Acorn TV, iTunes, Google Play, Shudder, and more. 

In terms of hardware, Blu-ray players, video game consoles, smart TVs, computers, and streaming devices can all be used to access OTT content.

The most inexpensive (generally) and fastest growing of these are the streaming devices to work with your TV. Here are a few worth looking into: 

Roku Express
$39.99 MSRP
This is one of the most inexpensive devices on the market, but it doesn’t sacrifice quality. You just plug it into the HDMI port on your TV, connect it to your wireless network, and you’re good to access all kinds of streaming services. Like all Roku products, it comes with an app, but you could just use the remote.

Roku Premiere+
$109.99 MSRP
The main draw for Roku’s most expensive streaming device, which, of course, has everything the inexpensive Express has, is 4K streaming. If you want the best possible picture quality, then Premiere+ is the way to go. It also comes with a deluxe remote with ear buds, for private listening.

Google Chromecast
$45 MSRP
If you’re used to streaming content on your tablet, smartphone, or laptop and you want that content on your TV, then the Google Chromecast can do that for you. It simply plugs into your HDMI port and the Chromecast turns your regular TV into a smart TV. Unlike Roku products, the Chromecast doesn’t come with a remote, but you can download an app that’ll let you use your phone in place of a remote.

Apple TV
$199 MSRP
Apple’s products are at the pricier end of the market, but if you already have an Apple account and other Apple devices, an Apple TV will fit right into your digital ecosystem.

The Bottom Line

More and more Canadians are cutting the cord and getting their TV over the Internet, and there are more and more ways to do so. However you decide to get your OTT content, remember that quality depends on the internet connection speed and you’ll be using more data, so consider upgrading the speed of your internet service and possibly moving to an unlimited usage plan in order to cut the cord once and for all.