If you are not part of the media landscape, chances are you haven’t heard of IPTV. But you’ve probably been using it for years.
And it is likely that you will use it more in the future. IPTV is growing rapidly, with new providers and services appearing alongside traditional TV providers with more IPTV offerings.
But what is IPTV? What does IPTV mean? How does it work and is it illegal?
And how can you use it to improve your TV experience?
What is IPTV?
IPTV stands for “Television over Internet Protocol”. The IP of the IPTV is the same as that of your IP or Voice over IP address. It simply means that the television programming is communicated via the Internet Protocol.
To understand what it means, you need to know a bit more about how the non-IPTV system works. If you want to know more about IPTV addons for Kodi, you can check out IPTVKODI.
With cable or satellite TV, broadcasters send signals that viewers receive – you can only watch what is being broadcast. Unless you have some sort of recording device, you can’t dictate what is turned on or when. You just have to log in when you can and see what’s available.
IPTV is different. Instead of transmitting content via light pulses in the form of fiber optic cable or radio waves from a satellite, IPTV sends shows and movies through your standard internet connection. (You may be using a cable or satellite internet connection, but those connections are separate from the ones that typically carry signals from your TV.)
Instead of broadcasting a series of programs on a set schedule, most IPTV channels use video on demand (VOD) or offbeat media – we’ll talk about that, along with a third format, in a moment.
Its operation is based on a complicated network architecture, in particular on the transcoding of traditional signals into IP compatible signals.
But the important thing is that you don’t have to watch what’s on the air. You can tell your provider what you want to watch and they’ll send it to you immediately.
If you’ve used a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, it’s the same idea, but with TV instead of subscribed movies or shows.
How does IPTV work?
There are three different IPTV formats. We will look at each one individually.
Video on demand (VOD)
VOD streaming is exactly what it sounds like; you get a video every time you ask for it. Movie streaming sites are video-on-demand providers. There is no time limit on what you can watch (other than what the service currently has rights to).
You tell the service what you want to watch, it sends it to you on the Internet and you watch it. Easy.
Popular examples of VOD services are Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. (There are also many smaller niche services.)
Do you need a decoder for IPTV?
Since most televisions are not equipped for abonnement IPTV, you may need a set-top box that “translates” what you receive through your Internet connection into a format that your television can read.
On the other hand, your computer does not need anything to watch IPTV. Once you’ve signed up for a service, you can use it to stream whatever you want in any of the IPTV formats (which we’ll talk about next).
So if you can mirror your screen to your TV, you can watch IPTV without a set-top box.
Like TV, you can also watch live broadcasts on IPTV. Many people see sporting events this way; it’s easy to stream a game to your phone when you’re on the go.
Besides being broadcast over the Internet rather than traditional media, live IP TV is almost the same as conventional television.
FOX Sports Go, the headquarters of CBS Sports, Hulu Live TV, and Sling TV all offer live IP TV.
Although IPTV is gaining ground, it is still a pretty niche market. Services like Netflix and Hulu have plenty of TV shows (when they can get the rights to them), and video on demand is growing rapidly.
These are the other IPTV formats where there is tremendous potential to change the way people watch TV that have yet to take off.
Catch-up television is growing in popularity. Downloading apps for providers like FOX, CBS, and NBC allows viewers to see shows they’ve missed without the effort of setting up and recording something through a set-top box, like a TiVo.
NOW TV, TVPlayer, and Epicstream are all making headway in the live IPTV market, but they are still not as traditional as the more popular VOD services.
Sport appears to be the fastest growing area of television for IPTV. There are many subscription sports plans that you can watch from your computer or stream to your TV whenever you want.
But it’s a safe bet that the rest of the television world will be right behind.
Many services are appearing, allowing users to create their own VOD and live streaming services. This way people can share their skills, advice and passions with anyone in the world.