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What Is IPTV and How It Works
Traditional television has been in decline for several years now due to the changing global trends and technological development. The widespread availability of the internet has made everything more accessible, including TV. Nowadays, you can access your favorite shows and movies at will, thanks to internet protocol television (IPTV). Considering that convenience is the number-one consumer need in today’s fast-paced world, IPTV has quickly conquered the market due to its superior user experience.
But what is IPTV exactly? How does it work? Is it all positives and no negatives? These are just some of the questions we’re going to address in this article.
Let’s start with the basics.
What Is IPTV?
IPTV stands for internet protocol television and entails users receiving television programs over the internet instead of antennas, satellite dishes, or fiber-optic cables. In other words, IPTV streams video content directly over the internet.
Although IPTV content delivery is different from that of online video platforms like YouTube or OTT services like Netflix, it does share many of their conveniences. For instance, IPTV allows users to access video on demand (VOD) content on a subscription-based model and watch live broadcasts. That gives viewers the freedom of accessing their favorite shows at will while still having the option of enjoying live events and programs like on traditional TV.
This flexibility is why IPTV outshines traditional television and is considered the future of TV.
How Does IPTV Work?
Traditional TV sends analog signals directly to users via cables, who can only access the currently broadcasted content. In these cases, users can only control when or what they view via external recording devices.
How IPTV works varies significantly. Unlike traditional TV that can only broadcast content in real time, IPTV has servers it stores content on. That gives users the freedom to request to view programs at will. After a user selects a show they’d like to watch, that content will be converted into digital format and delivered in packets to their playback device via the internet protocol. The files transferred will be compressed and optimized for streaming before they reach the end-users.
But for all the above to be possible, your TV must be able to read the signals received over the internet protocol. Unfortunately, not all TV’s can set up an IPTV service right off the bat since most can’t read the signals received without external help. If you have a TV set that isn’t IPTV compatible, you will have to buy an IPTV set-top box.
What Is an IPTV Box?
An IPTV box or a set-top box is a device used to convert streaming signals received via the internet protocol into a format that a TV can read and reproduce. In other words, set-top boxes translate the language of the internet protocol. These boxes are often connected to the TV via HDMI or AV cables, or even through Wi-Fi connection for newer models.
If you choose to stream IPTV from your computer, though, you won’t need a set-top box as PC’s can already read the data received through the internet protocol. Those who’d like to save on a set-top box but still enjoy watching IPTV on their television screens can mirror their PC screens on the TV and watch from there.
As we have already mentioned, IPTV offers many additional services and video formats beyond just watching traditional television broadcasts. There are three primary content formats most IPTV services offer:
• Live TV — Live IPTV allows users to live stream television broadcasts in real time, similar to traditional TV. Live TV most often serves to broadcast live events like sports events, conferences, etc.
• Video on Demand (VOD) — VOD IPTV services work the same way as with most OTT providers — you pay a subscription fee and, in return, have access to a large library of videos you can request to watch at will.
• Time-Shifted TV — This service is also known as “catch-up TV” and allows users to watch previously broadcasted TV shows at a later date. There is one significant difference between time-shifted TV and VOD, though. Time-shifted TV gives users the option of rewatching old content only for a limited time. Most often, broadcasts will be available for a few days before disappearing. Anything older than that would be considered a VOD.
With being able to choose between watching live broadcasts, revisiting the shows they’ve missed, and enjoying on-demand content, it’s evident that IPTV offers superior options and user experience to its traditional counterpart.