IP TV

IP TV

If you’re not a part of the media landscape, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of IPTV. But you’ve probably been using it for years.

And it’s likely that you’re going to be using it more in the future. IPTV is growing quickly, with new providers and services popping up alongside traditional TV providers with more IPTV offerings.

IPTV stands for “internet protocol television, delivered via a broadband connection in High Definition Format. It is different from web TV streaming in which content is usually viewed on a computer monitor. IPTV is a closed network wherein content can only be viewed by using a provider's set top box.

To understand IPTV, you need to know a bit about how non-IPTV works. With cable or satellite TV, broadcasters send out signals and viewers receive them—you’re only able to watch what’s being broadcasted. Unless you have some sort of recording device, you don’t get to dictate what’s on when. You just tune in when you can and watch what’s available.

IPTV is different. Instead of transmitting content via light pulses in 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 these are independent of the ones that usually carry your TV signals.)

Instead of broadcasting a range of shows on a specific schedule, most IPTV uses three different formats.

  • Video on Demand (VOD)
  • Time-shifted media
  • Live IPTV

Video on Demand (VOD)

VOD streaming is exactly what it sounds like; you get video whenever you demand it. Movie-streaming sites are VOD providers. There’s no time limit on what you can watch (other than what the service currently has the rights for).

You tell the service what you want to watch, they send it to you via the internet, and you watch it. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video are popular examples of VOD services.

Time-shifted Media

If you’ve watched “catch-up TV,” you’re familiar with this type of IPTV. Many broadcast networks now allow users to watch shows that they missed when they have the time to do it.

The important difference between time-shifted media and VOD is that the content being shared has a limited shelf life. You can’t go back and watch an episode of a show that you missed several years ago (well, you could, but it would be VOD then).

One of the most popular services that offers time-shifted media is BBC’s iPlayer. (If you think that VOD and time-shifted media sound very similar, you’re right. It mostly has to do with how long you’re able to watch a show after it airs.)


Live IPTV

Like broadcast TV, you can also watch shows live on IPTV. Many people watch sporting events this way; it’s easy to stream a game on your phone while you’re on the go.

Other than being broadcast over the internet instead of through traditional TV media, live IPTV is pretty much the same as regular TV.

FOX Sports Go, CBS Sports HQ, Hulu Live TV, and Sling TV all offer live IPTV.