What is IPTV? How does work and where is its future?

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IPTV has become something that many of us use everyday, but do you acutally know what it is? In this post we’ll go through IPTV in a bit more detail.

Chances are that you have heard about IPTV before, but never really understood what it means. In fact, you have probably been using IPTV for years without even knowing it. 

There has been a fundamental shift in how we consume television. Before the advent of the internet, TV was strictly scheduled. Today, the landscape is vastly different. TV can now be consumed on-demand in various different formats.

In many ways, IPTV is the grandfather to all the new ways we consume television today, such as over-the-top (OTT) television. Best IPTV was invented in the early 1990’s, whereas OTT came to maturity about 15 years later, in the mid-2000’s.

That isn’t to say that IPTV is outdated, not at all, but rather that is has evolved over time and is gaining market share even today.  

But let’s rewind a little bit and dig into what IPTV really means.

What is IPTV 

IPTV stands for “Internet Protocol Television”. What that means, simply, is that TV is being transmitted (streamed) via an internet protocol. IPTV can be transmitted through two different ways, a closed network and an open network.

Closed network delivery is where the stream is not broadcasted over the general internet. Instead, the stream comes from a private internet protocol (IP), as opposed to a public IP, and is therefore broadcasted over a private network.

Streams that come from a public IP address is referred to as over-the-top (OTT) streaming. OTT streaming is simply the term for any television or film that is delivered over the internet.  

IPTV differs from traditional TV broadcasting that receives broadcast signals via rooftop antenna, satellite or fiber optic cable.

Televisions that use traditional broadcasting systems such as fiber optic cable provide pre-set material to viewers at scheduled times. With IPTV Services consumers can choose what they want to watch and when.

What is a set-top box?

If you are using a computer or smart phone to watch IPTV, you don’t need a set-top box. That’s because computers and smart phones are already made to receive and decode internet signals.

If you are viewing IPTV via your television, you may need a set-top box.

Older televisions in particular aren’t made receive and convert internet signals to tv programs. A set-top box can be seen as an adapter that converts internet signals into TV signals that then can be viewed on a television.

How is IPTV used?

There are three different ways that IPTV is used. Below we’ll go through each a bit more.  

Live TV

There are still many things—e.g. sports games or awards shows — that are often best when viewed live. IPTV allows those live events to be viewed from any internet-enabled device, either on the go or at home.

So, in other words, even if someone doesn’t have a cable subscription or access, they can watch the live content they want with ease via IPTV.

Time-shifted TV

This option treads the line between live TV and VOD. Sometimes there is content on TV that a consumer might want to watch live but might not have the time for.

Time-shifted TV allows those consumers to watch that media slightly behind schedule, but not too much behind schedule.

For example, if they miss an episode of their favorite late-night show, they can watch it the following morning.

There’s a blurry line between VOD and time-shifted TV, but generally speaking, time-shifted TV is watching content that has only very recently been aired, particularly via set-top box.

It is often particularly useful for media that might not otherwise be on a streaming platform, e.g.,talk shows or game shows.


In contrast to live TV, VOD allows users to consume media on demand, often movies and serialized TV shows.

You are already family with the VOD streaming giants such as HBO. This kind of content was where IPTV — and VOD, for that matter — initially started.

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