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IPTV Explained

IPTV Explained

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Last updated: 06 January 2022

You may not be familiar with the term IPTV but you most likely have been using the format for years. If you’ve ever sat down for a Netflix marathon, streamed a football game off your phone or used a catch-up service like BBC iPlayer you have used IPTV. 

What is IPTV?

IPTV (or internet protocol television) in its simplest form is watching television using the internet instead of traditional terrestrial, satellites signal or cable television formats.

How does IPTV work?

There are three IPTV formats that can be used via a web browser on your computer, a set-top box or a digital TV:


Broadcasting a TV show live across the Internet is live IPTV, this is a popular way to watch sporting events such as live streaming a football match on your phone whilst on the go. HULU live TV and BT sport are examples of services that offer this. 

Time Shifted Media

If you have ever used 4OD or BBC iPlayer to catch up on a program after you missed its original broadcast in the traditional TV schedule, then you have used this IPTV format. Several broadcast networks now use this, you can either download their app onto your tablet or phone or login straight from an internet browser. Time shifted media is however defined by the fact the program you want to watch will only be available for a certain period of time. 

Video on demand (VOD)

Amazon Prime and Netflix are examples of popular video on-demand services. You can choose what you want to watch from a wide selection of options whenever you wish to watch it. It is restricted by a broadcast schedule or only available for a certain length of time. 

How do I get access to IPTV?

First things first you need to make sure you have access to an internet connection, if you’re in need of a new broadband deal use the usave comparison engine to compare broadband deals and find a deal that will suit you. To use our broadband comparison tool just enter your postcode, choose the filters you require e.g. speed, compare the offers and choose your deal.  

If using your own computer or smartphone you will just need to sign up to a service to stream what you want to watch. 

However, if you want to use your own television for the perfect 4K HD experience you will need a set-top box that will translate what is sent over the internet, making it readable for your TV. 

This will come in the form of something like an Amazon Fire TV stick which is reasonably priced and inserts into the back of your TV. Several TV providers also offer IPTV services like Virgin Media or BT. Plus, they often include a set-up box as part of a broadband and TV bundle package.

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What are the benefits of IPTV?

IPTV is a very popular service and will only increase in popularity. More media providers are trying to compete with the streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime. And many broadcast networks now let you use time-shifted media to watch their shows. But what makes it so popular?


You can access content whenever you want, you don’t have to make sure you’re home at a certain time to make sure you make that nights TV schedule. And you can also binge a whole series without having to wait for next weeks episode. 


You can access content in a variety of ways whether on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. This also means you can take your favorite shows with you wherever you go. 


Gone are the days of jealousy when you went round to that one friends house who had all the cable channels – all the films, the sports package and the Disney channel! IPTV has opened the flood gates for all and often at a cheaper price, without having to commit to a long cable TV contract. With IPTV your subscription often includes full access and gives you the option to cancel whenever you wish, making it a very cost effective choice.

What to watch out for with IPTV

If you’re buying an IPTV service there are some things to watch out for:

  • The cost of the set up box
  • Speed of connection
  • If it’s part of a broadband bundle, what are the other perks and is it worth the price of the package?
  • Provided services, e.g. sport options and number of channels 

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Harry Pererra

Author: Harry Pererra

Harry turns on his experience in web design and programming to write about the latest news in the world of tech and broadband. When he isn’t writing for usave he is working towards his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and prefers dogs to cats.

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