What Is IPTV and How It Works: An A-to-Z Guide (2023)

what is iptv and how it works by bridtv

what is iptv and how it works by Digitalizard

Changing worldwide trends and technical advancement have contributed to the collapse of traditional television for some time. Everything has become more accessible as a result of the internet’s broad use, including TV. Thanks to internet protocol television, you may now access your favorite shows and movies whenever you want (IPTV). In today’s fast-paced world, consumers’ top requirement is convenience, hence IPTV has quickly dominated the market thanks to its superior user experience.

But what is IPTV? How does it function? Is there anything unpleasant at all? These are just a few of the queries this post will try to answer.

Let’s begin with the fundamentals.

Table of Contents


What Is IPTV?

Internet protocol television, or IPTV, uses the same technology as live streaming video via the internet to replace antennas, satellite dishes, and fiber-optic connections. IPTV transmits video content in real time via the internet, to put it another way.

Although IPTV content distribution is different from OTT services like Netflix and online video-sharing platforms like YouTube, it shares many of their benefits. For instance, IPTV enables viewers to watch live broadcasts and access video on demand (VOD) content through a subscription-based model. As a result, viewers have the freedom to watch their favorite programs whenever they want and still have the choice to watch live events and programs like on traditional TV.

Because of its versatility, IPTV outperforms conventional television and is seen as the TV of the future.

How IPTV Works

How IPTV Works Brid TV
What is Iptv – How IPTV Works

IPTV transmits digital signals over a controlled, private internet network, whereas traditional TV distributes analog signals to consumers via cables. IPTV features servers for storing content, in contrast to traditional TV, which can only transmit programming in real time. Users now have the flexibility to watch shows at their leisure (if their IPTV provider allows this option).

The complete content delivery procedure is extremely easy to understand and can be summarized in the following steps:

The IPTV provider gets a request from the user to watch a particular program.

An end user receives a video stream from the IPTV provider’s server after the request has been processed.

The content stream moves through the private, secure network in direction of a user-side gateway.

Real-time streaming protocol (RTSP) is used to provide the content to the playback device in packets, which are then compressed to improve playback quality.

But, in order for everything mentioned above to work, your TV needs to be able to decode signals sent over internet protocol. As most TVs can’t read the signals received without assistance, not all of them can immediately set up an IPTV service. You will need to purchase an IPTV set-top box if your TV isn’t IPTV compatible.

What Is IPTV Box?

Similar to an OTT box, an IPTV box or set-top box transforms streaming signals obtained via the internet protocol into a format that a TV can read and reproduce. In other words, set-top boxes interpret the internet protocol’s language. These devices are frequently connected to the TV using HDMI or AV cables, or with newer models, even Wi-Fi.

You won’t need a set-top box if you prefer to stream IPTV from your computer because PCs can already read data received through the internet protocol. If you don’t need a set-top box but still want to view IPTV on your TV, you can mirror your Laptop screen onto the TV and watch from there.

Hybrid IPTV

A new, hybrid IPTV business model has emerged as a result of the significant demand for internet-based streaming services and on-demand content. Traditional broadcasters found that hybrid IPTV was the ideal solution for making the switch to a more modern business model.

This strategy allowed traditional TV broadcasters to continue offering traditional TV services while merging it with the on-demand model used by the majority of OTT platforms since they had to adjust to changing customer behavior.

With a single set-top box, customers of the hybrid IPTV model can access both linear TV and on-demand programming.

As neither customers nor providers must continually update their infrastructure, this model’s flexibility and cost are its two most important advantages.

Customers can freely choose to use or not use various features without having to modify their set-top box, and providers can inexpensively roll out updates and new services. It’s a win-win situation in either case.

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Types of IPTV Formats

an infographical illustration of the different types of IPTV
Live TV, Video-on-Demand, and Time-Shifted TV are the most common IPTV formats.

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.

However, this model has the same downsides as the dying cable TV. Users can’t choose when to watch content, and they don’t have the flexibility of watching it on the go.

Some examples of IPTV providers with this model include FOX Sports Go, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, and CBS Sports HQ.

Video on Demand (VOD) 

Similar to most OTT providers, VOD IPTV services operate by charging a membership fee in exchange for access to a sizable video library that you can request at any time.

Customers are particularly drawn to this concept because of how flexible it is. 

In order to compete with the rising popularity of over-the-top streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, more and more IPTV providers have started offering on-demand services.

Time-Shifted TV

TV on demand or catch-up The ability to watch previously broadcast TV shows later is provided through the exclusive IPTV service known as TV.

But, there is one significant distinction between time-shifted TV and VOD. Users of time-shifted TV can only rewatch past programs for a short period of time. Broadcasts typically remain online for a few days before fading. Anything older would be regarded as a VOD.

The BBC’s iPlayer is one of the most well-known IPTV services that employs this paradigm.

Advantages and Disadvantages of IPTV

Although IPTV offers incredible flexibility and user experience, there’s much more to it. It’s also vital to look at both sides of the coin here, as IPTV isn’t perfect either. Here are some of the most notable pros and cons of IPTV:


  • Easy to Set Up and Use — All you need to get started is to buy a set-top box and connect it to your TV set. Also, the Wi-Fi connectivity that newer models have makes the process significantly easier.
  • It Is 100% Digital — The world is becoming more digital-oriented by the day, so transitioning to digital TV is an excellent foundation for the future and new tech.
  • IPTV Allows Smooth Simultaneous Streaming of Multiple Programs — IPTV services let users stream multiple programs simultaneously on different devices (TV, PC, etc.).
  • Variety of Service Types — The multiple types of services IPTV offers exist to fit different consumer tastes.
  • Allows Users a Commercial-Free Experience — Many people hate advertisements, so being able to skip or fast-forward them is an excellent quality-of-life improvement.
  • Incredibly Time-Efficient — Not having to wait for specific times to access your favorite broadcasts and skippable commercials is why IPTV is so appealing to users worldwide.


  • Network Overloads May Cause Technical Issues — If too many users watch a specific show simultaneously, the network may overload and cause buffering or playback issues.
  • Users Have Little to No Control Over Channel-Related Issues — If an error occurs on a channel’s end, there’s little to nothing viewers can do to fix the issue but wait.
  • Synchronization Problems Are Commonplace – Due to natural fluctuations in network speed and quality, viewers may experience synchronization problems. If these occur, they deal a massive blow to the quality of user experience.

As you can see, IPTV isn’t omnipotent and has a few downsides to traditional TV. But since technology keeps developing rapidly, we wouldn’t be surprised if these few issues got dealt with sooner than later. Besides, the UX improvements IPTV brings to the table far outweigh these potential problems, wouldn’t you agree?

IPTV Service Providers

There are hundreds of IPTV service providers out there, and the features and programs they offer will vary greatly depending on your country or state. Here are some of the most popular IPTV providers in the U.S.

  • Digitalizard IPTV
  • Bestbuy IPTV
  • Comstar
  • Apollo Group TV
  • Necro IPTV
  • Tubi
  • Vudu
  • The Players Klub
  • Falcon TV
  • IPTVtune

Note: Before you start looking for an IPTV provider, you should first check if IPTV is legal in your country or state. Although IPTV is legal in most countries, there are some bad actors on the market that you should avoid at all costs.

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The Valuable and Rapidly Growing IPTV Market Size

The IPTV market size is massive, and new providers are entering the industry daily. That is part of the reason the demand for IPTV is growing rapidly. Here are a few IPTV statistics to better illustrate the market’s rapid growth:

  • The demand for IPTV services is increasing at an annual rate of 30%–35% globally.
  • There are currently more than a billion subscribers to IPTV services worldwide.
  • IPTV is most popular in European countries like France, Germany, and the U.K. These countries currently have the largest IPTV market share.
  • India is the fastest growing IPTV market currently and will likely pass its European counterparts in a few years.

The biggest reason for the boom of the IPTV market is the massive advertising potential it has. Advertisers can use IPTV to get in front of millions of viewers worldwide they can’t reach by other means. That is why most IPTV services operate on an advertising video-on-demand monetization model.

Is IPTV the Future of TV?

Despite IPTV’s constant growth, its future is challenging to gauge. The reason is that IPTV directly competes with the even more popular OTT and CTV industries.

These industries are growing even faster than IPTV and are a force to be reckoned with. Although the future of TV undoubtedly lies in online video delivery, we have yet to see which technology will take the throne. As things stand right now, we can only make an educated guess.

How IPTV Compares to OTT and CTV

Although both IPTV and OTT deliver content over the internet, they use different technologies. With each of those technologies come different benefits and downsides.

IPTV operates in an isolated, private ecosystem, making it superior to OTT’s delivery method, which relies on open internet networks. Since OTT relies on your internet’s bandwidth, it is more prone to lag or connection breaks than IPTV. Similarly, this technology also enables IPTV to deliver higher quality content than you could get with OTT.

However, OTT has several huge advantages over IPTV, like better accessibility, a higher variety of video monetization models, and lower infrastructure and maintenance costs for providers. 

Around 65% of users stream videos on mobile and TV apps nowadays in favor of TV or browsers. That means it’s more important than ever to be accessible to users across these devices, which OTT easily allows (through OTT apps). 

At the same time, OTT monetization is more flexible. Providers can opt to monetize with ads, subscriptions, or even pay-per-view models.

Another massive upside to OTT is that it doesn’t require expensive infrastructure and maintenance. These lower initial costs are what make OTT more appealing to newcomers in the video streaming world. 

With the above in mind, we can’t help but wonder if IPTV can stay competitive with OTT for much longer unless something drastically changes.

Is Getting Content on IPTV a Good Choice for Your Broadcasting Business? 

With everything we discussed so far, we’d have to say this decision is entirely up to you. The easiest way to decide would be to figure out if you value reach or content quality more. 

If you’d rather deliver the best service possible despite higher costs and lower reach, then, by all means, start an IPTV service.

On the other hand, if you prefer going global and offering an easily accessible service that will appeal to broader audiences, then OTT is likely the better choice.

And if you decide to go the OTT route and build an OTT app or streaming service, Brid.TV can help you. Publishers and broadcasters can use our white-label OTT apps to easily launch an ad-supported app across Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, or Samsung and LG smart TVs.

The Brid.TV online video platform was built from the ground up to help publishers and video providers maximize website, OTT, and CTV ad revenue. So if your goal is to launch an ad-supported OTT service, get in touch, and we’ll help you make that goal a reality.