What are IPTVServices?
IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is very simple – instead of getting your TV signals through a cable, a satellite dish, or an antenna, you get them through the internet.
Entertainment streams via live, video on demand (VOD), and time-shifted broadcast methods. This format allows you to dictate what you watch versus taking a passive role in the scheduling.
You can set up IPTV through a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN). In this case, you become both the broadcaster and viewer but the media is what’s housed on your computer systems.
Tools like Plex, Emby, and Universal Media Server make local IPTV possible. In most cases, these same apps let you view IPTV channels. It sounds slightly complicated but it’s actually pretty simple once you begin using it.
Okay, back to the Internet-based media:
You can stream media signals from your computer or you can divert them to a set-top box specifically made to work with IPTV, which in turn connects to your television set.
From the eyes of an IPTV company owner, the concept of IPTV looks a bit more complicated, since you need storage, access to channels and a very fast internet connection to stream to users around the world.
There are hundreds of IPTV providers around the globe, big and small. The industry is mostly broken up into national and regional providers. Sometimes these are small mom and pop type operations to telecoms providing subscribers an alternative method to enjoy content.
IPTV companies are usually cheaper than normal TV and require less fuss to set up, since all you need to do is pay, receive your set-top box if you need one, input your unique code and watch all the TV you could possibly ever want. But, there’s more than one type of IPTV.
IPTV Services and How They Work
There are three types of IPTV:
- Live IPTV
- Time-shifted IPTV
Often, you will be able to enjoy all three with a single service.
Live IPTV Services
Live IPTV is when you watch the thousands of channels with content that’s essentially broadcasting at the moment, even in faraway countries.
Services will often offer 5000+ channels to choose from, and you can easily get lost while sifting through them, but there will always be something to watch! You’ll often find online communities curating channels, helping you discover and enjoy the best the World has to offer its entertainment.
Live IPTV is perfect for news, sports, and events. Basically, live IPTV is the ideal choice if you want to enjoy media as it unfolds.
Video on Demand
Video-on-demand is watching a certain movie or show that you pick out of a library your service possesses. Usually, you will be given access to a library containing most or all of today’s popular shows and movies.
Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, and many other, favorite streaming services are a perfect example of video-on-demand. The user picks from the service’s selection or records and rebroadcasts from their personal collection.
There are two variations of video-on-demand, too:
- Near Video on Demand
- TV on Demand
Near Video on Demand, or nVOD, is like your Showtime, HBO, and other premium channels. Think of them as pay-per-view channels where the nVOD provider curates the daily or event program.
TV on Demand (TVoD) has its own classification but is equally simple. In this case, you have a curated selection of television shows, on demand. Many cable, satellite, and online providers offer set-top boxes for at-home TVoD or offer it through their website or app.
Time-Shifted IPTV Services
The third type is time-shifted IPTV, which allows you to watch the same amount of channels as live IPTV, but you can choose what to watch. If your show was an hour ago and you missed it, you can rewind and see it from the beginning. You can even pause and fast forward through what was only hours ago, live television!
Time-shifted IPTV is great for catching up on shows when you’re busy. Yet, there are often limits to what’s available with this format. Many shows have limited windows of availability before they shift to VOD or other formats.
How do IPTV Services Compare to Normal Television?
IPTV is often considered to be the next logical step in the development of television. If we can eliminate the complicated setup, the large companies which hold a monopoly in many places, the high prices and the endless customer support calls with one step, this would definitely be it.
IPTV Services don’t require any skill to set up, and yet you get far more than what you would get with a cable or a fiber-optic connection. Also, TV tends to be far more expensive than IPTV, which can cost as little as a few dollars per month.
Let’s consider the differences to understand how the lower prices, simplicity, and technologies compare to traditional broadcasts.
The long process of media reaching your home via fiber/coaxial cable seems barbaric compared to IPTV. In this broadcast method, the signal passes through, via radio signals, to communication satellites and through extensive networks before it’s compiled locally before its availability.
Satellite television is very much the same process as cable TV. Except, broadcast signals bounce from satellites to a user, bypassing the “middleman” that is your local provider.
The broadcast is encrypted and decrypted throughout this process. This is why satellite broadcasts are inaccessible without the appropriate service package or equipment. Incidentally, IPTV follows a lot of this broadcasting format when you stop to think about it, but without the massive control imposed by telecoms (typically, that is).
Over-the-top streaming is what you get when a provider wants to deliver media but doesn’t own the physical infrastructure. Netflix and the many streaming services are examples of OTT streaming.
OTT and its services are mostly limited by local networks. Yet, broadband and even fiber optic lines are more prevalent than ever.
It’s the media companies that are the culprits for, what seems to be, holding OTT from its true potential — giving IPTV an incredible opportunity and edge (more on this below)
The Reliability Factor
With IPTV Services, compared to most other broadcast methods, there is no complicated infrastructure to break and bad weather conditions are not a problem anymore. Of course, acts of nature do happen.
You would be getting your stream wirelessly and aside from a power failure in your home, nothing can happen that will cause your IPTV to stop. You won’t need to worry about a neighbor haphazardly digging and slicing a power or cable line. Nor would you panic as local breaking coverage disrupts your viewing as you could likely switch to a similar channel in a different location or time zone.
Reliability has been a major concern over the years and IPTV has demonstrated that it’s stable enough to be in mass use. Disrupted viewing? You’ll have a seemingly endless set of options and fall-backs since you’re no longer bound by broadcast signals from traditional networks.
IPTV Services Pros & Cons
The benefits of IPTV Services are obvious.
Take what you love about your streaming services and 10X them. Imagine more accessibility, fewer disruptions, and greater control. There’s more to it, of course, as we explain below.
Advantage: Media, Choice, and Availability
If you get a service with all three types of IPTV, live, time-shifted and with a library of on-demand files, you are not simply buying TV from a new provider – you’re changing your entire TV experience.
You now have access to an exponentially higher number of channels numbering in the thousands, and you pay far less than your cable bill, all while requiring almost no setup at all and ensuring complete reliability of your stream. All you need is an internet connection and if you want to stream to a television set, a set-top box.
The right service and hardware unlock many benefits for your viewing pleasure — including:
- Media – You’re no longer bound by your local or national channels. IPTV often connects streams from around the World, meaning you can discover and enjoy media in hundreds of languages. This is perfect if you’re traveling, have relocated, or simply want to experience something different since many countries have different personalities, media tropes, and culture.
- Control — You get to control when you consume content and at a pace ideal for your lifestyle. Binge entire series in an afternoon or break up individual episodes when you’re busy with other tasks.
- Availability — You’re no longer locked to the television screen. IPTV services offer apps for several tech formats from your phone and laptop to tablets and more. You can start, pause, stop, rewind, and skip ahead on one device and pick it where you left off on another. You can also bypass some locks restricting viewership to some broadcasts that aren’t available in your region.
In essence, IPTV Services are ideal if you want greater access to entertainment on your terms. You become the program director.
Disadvantage: Hardware and Bandwidth Limitations
Your IPTV service is largely dictated by your hardware. And, local network and their hardware/software.
What happens with lackluster hardware limitations?
- Packet loss creating buffering and interruptions
- Quality downgrades during heavily congested bandwidth use
An IPTV stream can begin to drop out like satellite broadcast because there are interruptions and problems with the system. You may also notice artifacting, desynchronization, and frame rate jumps.
The quality of your set-top box or computer’s hardware (when using a browser) can affect IPTV quality, too. Cheap boxes, although they were great for your wallet, may lack the processing power to handle HD streams let alone trying to push it to 4K! The same goes if you bought a lower-end computer, phone, tablet, or any other device you’re streaming to.
Bandwidth limitations set by your ISP could prevent you from fully enjoying IPTV services. An ISP could throttle your connection after using too much monthly bandwidth, downgrading the streaming quality.
Many phone services do this, too, even when advertise as an unlimited service. You can rapidly burn through your data cap and potentially pay more if you don’t understand the terms and conditions.
Advantage: A-La-Carte Packages
IPTV is perfect for both young people, looking to explore various channels from around the world, as well as senior citizens which will definitely find it interesting. If you don’t want all of those channels but just a select few, you can do that too – most services offer various packages such as ‘Sport’ or ‘USA’ or ‘Spanish’ to give you exactly what you need.
Most of the time, all of these packages will come integrated in your complete channel list, but you can request just them as well.
You’ll also find packages based on:
- Pay-per-view options
- Streaming quality
- Software and hardware integrations
You can geek out with an IPTV service giving you flexible access to your favorite, obscure TV shows from unpronounceable countries. Or, pick services that mimic your typical providers with easy-to-use interfaces, features, and guides as if you turned on the cable box.
Disadvantage: Too Much Choice
It sounds silly but you can have too much choice. The 5,000+ channels sound great in theory but look at your habits now: you likely spend as much time trying to find something to watch as you do watching it.
For some, having so many options can be a hassle. This known as information overload — where you rather not choose something versus being challenged with having to make a choice.
You can turn to online communities curating IPTV lists like forums, social media, and favorite bloggers. But, this adds an extra step when trying to enjoy programming — especially when you’re used to passive viewing.
This disadvantage is more of a personal problem above anything else. But, it exists and is quite common among IPTV users that have several packages and love to channel surf (a bit too much).
Advantage: Affordable Pricing
Full and a-la-carte packages are also great on your wallet. You’ll find many services starting at just 5 to 10 USD a month. Or, you can pick and choose which services you want and build a package.
You can also save money by subscribing for a year or more at a time. You may even find some, small IPTV providers offering lifetime services.
You should also factor how much you save as a whole:
- Ditching cable or satellite TV packages
- Dropping streaming services and apps
- Spending less on hardware equipment rentals
It’s not uncommon families spending 100 to 150 USD between the various boxes and packages. Alternatively, having several streaming services can just as easily add up to cable/satellite prices.
With IPTV, you could theoretically get the bare minimum Internet package.
The minimum speed for many IPTV services range from 3 mbps for standard quality to 5 mbps for HD. Ultra HD typically needs 25 mbps.
Therefore, DSL becomes an option if you live in a location that doesn’t offer great broadband services. Or, if you want to save even more since DSL packages are often half what you’d expect from cable/satellite providers.
Did we mention the hardware? Yes! Cable/satellite boxes for each room can range from 5 to 10 USD each month. Have a large home and the hardware rental is almost as much as the service!
As noted: IPTV broadcasts to almost all device types meaning you can save by using your own device. Or, paying a single time for a set top box. You could even build and hack together a box using kits!
The Grey Area
There’s no dodging the question… is IPTV legal?
IPTV falls into a weird spot in the United States:
- There are legit IPTV providers offering legal streams
- There are shady IPTV services fueled by piracy
The use of an IPTV service in itself isn’t illegal. You can install and use Kodi, and several other IPTV apps/devices, all you want. The problem starts when you view copyrighted material through pirate streams and distributions.
Distributing and profiting from illegal streams is a problem, too. You can sell hardware with IPTV apps installed but don’t begin populating them with streams you’re not 100% sure are official and legal.
When in doubt:
- Use a mainstream services and subscriptions
- Stream public access programming available in your region
- Use the bundled app or service provided by your ISP
A VPN is the typical suggestion when streaming media. This is on you how you choose to proceed with the services.
The Advantages Grow with the Tech
IPTV is an emerging concept, but from what we’ve seen so far and from how fast the industry has developed, we can say with absolute certainty that it is going to be one of the new major household technologies.
A few years ago, the telephone was generally upgraded to smartphones as the default tool for communication. It became one of these new major technologies and now we’re looking at another upgrade – the television set has been transformed into an online database of files, as well as all the live channels you could ever want – now or up to a week ago!
IPTV functions globally, so wherever you are, you can order a set-top box and with a stable internet connection you’ll be able to watch TV from any country in the world.
We think the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages. And, you will too once you begin exploring IPTV, its packages, and configuration. This is a tech that’s still in its infancy — so we’re bound to see new and exciting developments that’ll put it far above what’s offered now.
IPTV Software, Services, and Hardware
Now comes the fun part in our guide to IPTV Services… getting it gong. There are many options from using software to setting up set-top boxes. Do a search and you’ll be inundated with the options, so we’re going to keep this simple.
IPTV Services for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Mobile
There are several IPTV software and app players on the market. Most, as one can expect, carry similar features with the baseline being the ability to set up and watch IPTV streams.
For most systems:
- VLC Media Player
VLC features built-in support for IPTV in its ‘Network Streams’ option. Here, you’ll input the stream URL and in moments you’ll enjoy the media. The feature is about as barebones as it gets but a great introductory to IPTV.
Kodi is a rather robust media player available on all systems.
Know how you’ll see devices advertised with Kodi installed? It’s because they’re made to stream Internet TV, events, movies, and more. Install the Kodi software, find your stream URLs and distros, and you’ll have incredible access to online, streaming content.
IPTV is a subscription-based IPTV player and application. The software is available for all systems and subscriptions begin at 30 EURO a month. When subscribed, you’ll gain access to more than 6000 channels including movies, TV, premium content, and a TV guide for easy navigation.
There are several others worth exploring once you get the basics — like:
- Tubi TV
- Players Club
- Beast TV
- Pluto TV
Android has its own set of great IPTV apps, like:
- Exodus Live TV
- Swift Streams
- IPTV Extreme
- Lazy IPTV
…and you’ll find the IPTV.shop subscription service on the platform, too.
iOS has fewer IPTV options. GSE is the current champion of IPTV on iOS with ample support, features, and a budding community.
IPTV via Set-Top Boxes and Devices
Set-top boxes, or hybrid boxes, deliver IPTV streams to hardware hooked up to your TV. If you’ve used a Roku, AppleTV, Firestick, or Chromecast then you get the general idea of these set-top boxes.
A few, popular brands include:
A great entry-point is the Amazon Firestick. These are very easy to modify so you can begin watching IPTV streams. Kodi is a popular app to install on a Firestick to make this a possibility.
The MAG, Beelink, and Minix boxes are another popular option making the rounds. These are preconfigured to give you ample IPTV support. They’re packed with decent tech so your streams are crisp and buffer-free.
Look to the higher-end of these brands for optimal IPTV support.
Features to be aware of include:
- HD and 4K video streaming
- OS configuration (almost always Android)
- Storage capacity and USB or SD card extensions
- Fast, reliable wifi card and/or ethernet port
Units often come with a remote else you can upgrade. Look for bluetooth keyboard/trackpad controllers for the ultimate support. These are fantastic as you’ll need to input URLs and work through the systems frequently.
Consider the Features
Those not wanting to use these relatively obscure services can opt for mainstream IPTV providers. These include Hulu, Playstation Vue, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV, and Sling TV.
To narrow your selection — consider these features and options:
- Uptime — The higher the better since you don’t want to lose service
- Buffering — Look for providers offering little to no buffering
- Trials — Test the service before you commit
- Plans — See what they offer monthly and yearly
- Price — Cheap is good but you get what you pay for!
Remember, some of these oddball IPTV providers are fly-by-night. Some go down, bail, and close shop without notice. Don’t overly invest in a service unless you’re 100% sure and you’ve done proper research.
IPTV is the Future of Entertainment - The Future is Now
IPTV has come a long way since its introduction in 1995. Today, IPTV and its derivative capabilities from video on demand to live and time-shifted content is changing the way we consume media.
It’s only a matter of time before IPTV becomes the new, de facto standard.
The accessibility to a seemingly endless stream of content, near unrestricted access, a break from telecom control, and incredible affordability will continue to drive IPTV popularity. We’ve covered this topic extensively and hope you take a wild, deep dive into what it offers.
It may feel intimidating and almost alien to your entertainment, today, but we’re sure you’ll love the service and experience once it’s set up. Do get in touch if you need help with your IPTV service and hardware. And, be sure to share this with anyone looking to cut the cord and decentralize their media.