What is IPTV: Definition, Types, Pros & Cons [A Comprehensive Guide]

What is IPTV

IPTV delivers media content over the internet. It includes VOD titles covering movies and TV shows. Moreover, users can stream live sports events and PPV events on this platform. The best part of IPTV services is that they offer affordable subscription plans that users can choose from.

There are multiple reasons why IPTV services are the best replacement for cable and satellite subscriptions. Users can access these services on various streaming devices with lower subscription costs. Also, these services are available worldwide to stream. You may take advantage of streaming IPTV at home or on the go.

What is IPTV?

The default question “What is IPTV?” arises in everyone’s mind while surfing streaming websites. IPTV, called Internet Protocol Television, delivers media content using the Internet Protocol/Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP). It is the best alternative to traditional cable and satellite TV services. It allows you to stream both live and on-demand video content.

Apart from these, users are allowed to record live streams. IPTV provides access to plenty of movies, TV shows, news, sports, and live TV channels from all parts of the world. Using IPTV, you can stream media files 24/7 continuously, without any interruptions. All you need is a proper and stable internet connection.

What is IPTV

How Does IPTV Work?

Generally, traditional cable and satellite services work based on the same model. The cable TV service provides the content through coaxial cable connections. On the other hand, satellite services transmit channels and other content via radio waves. However, IPTV is completely different from the above two services. In other words, the entire process is performed online.

As mentioned, any IPTV requires an active internet or Wi-Fi connection. It uses Internet Protocol (IP) and delivers the TV channel to the user’s respective device. When you click on any stream, videos from multiple sources (servers) are split into data packets and sent via the internet. So, the videos requested and received by the user use IP. i.e., the video server transmits the program to the TV via the Internet using a fiber-optic cable.

Finally, the video file that the user has requested will be compressed and optimized before the user receives it. With IPTV, you can experience a secure and reliable streaming experience.

Is IPTV Legal?

In general, not all IPTV services are legal to use worldwide. It applies as long as the service provider has incorporated licensed channels and contents to access. However, in the case of third-party apps, websites, and plug-ins, they are not promising and depend on the source.

Is IPTV legal

It is really hard to find if the IPTV is legal and if the associated IPTV provider has obtained the licenses. However, you can find out if it is legitimate with the following tricks.

  • Check for a dedicated streaming app.
  • Most legit IPTV players link to their partners.
  • There will be fewer ads, and you will have the subscription option.
  • Those legal providers sell other services besides IPTV, like the Internet.

Why Should You Avoid Illegit IPTV Services?

Streaming illegal IPTV services is extremely unsafe, and the device you’re using will be more vulnerable to hacks. Though the content provider faces most of the legal issues, there is a possibility that the user may also face legal problems.

The illegal IPTV service and its content may disappear at any time when the original content provider files a legal suit. You will be scammed in most cases with illegal IPTV. Your device will get infected with viruses and malware.

As a result, your private data may get stolen. It will cause video buffering or loading issues, and thus, you cannot expect smooth playback again. As a result of using an illegal IPTV service, your ISP might downgrade the internet service or disable it entirely.

illegal IPTV services

Do You Need a VPN to Stream IPTV?

Most IPTV service providers are not legal to use, and their channels and contents don’t have proper copyright permission. On the other hand, some of the services are accessible only in a particular region or country. In such cases, you need to use premium VPN services like NordVPN or ExpressVPN to protect your internet presence and access the geo-restricted content.

Moreover, using a VPN will enhance your security by hiding your real IP address and location. So, it becomes difficult for hackers to track your online activity. VPN is a mandatory tool while accessing public WiFi networks.

Use a VPN

Types of IPTV Formats

IPTV delivers its streaming content and channels in three formats, namely live TV, video on demand, and time-shifted media. We shall take a look at them in brief.

Live TV

Most IPTV services offer live broadcasting from various international and local networks. It lets you watch your favorite TV programs, sports events, and many more online from anywhere. Some IPTV-compatible networks are FOX Sports Go, CBS Sports, Sling TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, etc.

Video On-Demand

Video On Demand is one of the effective and useful features. It allows you to choose movies, TV shows, and other videos from the library. You can watch them any number of times whenever you want. On-demand content is accessible only over the internet.

Time-Shifted Media

Time-shifted media is otherwise called digital video recording. Live broadcasting actions are captured and released digitally by the network. Various action replays, memorization moments, and many more are officially recorded by the streaming network and uploaded to its digital platform after a few days of original airing.


In PPV, you can pay for your desired movie or TV show to watch. If you’re looking to stream more content at an affordable price, then PPV is the best way to stream.

Difference Between IPTV Service Providers and Players

There are two types of IPTV services – IPTV provider and IPTV Player. There are various best IPTV providers available; some may offer free streaming, and some require registration along with the subscription.

On the other hand, you need an external IPTV player to load and play the video content. However, some IPTV providers will have a dedicated IPTV player to stream their video content. In such cases, you don’t need an extra IPTV player. Like IPTV providers, there are tons of free and paid IPTV M3U player apps available in the market. So, whatever IPTV provider or IPTV player you choose, make sure to know about its features.

Factors to Consider While Choosing an IPTV Service

If you wish to get a subscription with an IPTV provider, you need to consider a few factors. Considering these factors can let you shorten the list of popular IPTV services and choose the best one for your device.

Subscription Plans

You can find a lot of free IPTV services today. However, these free services will include a lot of ads that will interrupt your streaming. At the same time, subscription-based IPTV providers are ad-free and provide many features. You can choose an IPTV provider who has an affordable subscription rather than an expensive one. Also, getting a monthly subscription to your IPTV provider is better. This is because these services are not always stable.

Customer Support

Customer support is one of the essential features of an IPTV provider. Most paid IPTV services have dedicated customer support. The customer support team will help you with fixing any issues that you have with your service. You can also get their help when you are setting up the IPTV app on your device.

Channel List

You should ensure that the IPTV provider has all the TV channels that you are looking for. Some providers include global TV channels, while others have only a limited number of channels. So, go through the channel list provided by your IPTV service.

Exclusive Shows

Most of the streaming platforms offer exclusive titles of movies and TV shows. In other words, you might not be able to access this content on competitor platforms. That is why you need to choose a provider who has the best collection of shows that you like.

App Compatibility

Before subscribing to an IPTV service, make sure the application is compatible with all the streaming devices you have. Therefore, you can access IPTV content wherever you are. Some of the IPTV services are compatible with popular IPTV players, making it easy to access on multiple devices.

Good Reviews

Before subscribing to an IPTV service, make sure that you go through the customer reviews. If an IPTV service frequently has streaming issues like buffering and freezing, it is better not to choose it.

Factors to Consider While Choosing an IPTV Player

After purchasing the subscription from IPTV Provider, the next step is to play the IPTV content. To play the IPTV content on your device, you will need a media player to load the IPTV content on the IPTV-compatible device. There are tons of IPTV Players available online. Before choosing the best IPTV Player, check the requirements listed to get the best IPTV Player for your device.

Supported Playlist Formats

Once you have subscribed to the IPTV provider, you will receive the credentials in Xtream Code API or M3U URL format. Only certain IPTV Players allow you to access both formats in one Player. So, it is an essential feature to check the playlist compatibility when choosing an IPTV Player.

Device Compatibility

Only the best IPTV Players can be accessed on all devices. If you’re choosing the premium IPTV Player, make sure it can be accessed on all devices that you’re using.

Parental Control

Parental control is one of the best and most basic features that must be available to all IPTV Players. Because the IPTV includes both adult and general content. If the IPTV Player is incompatible with the Parental Control feature, then anyone can access the adult content without any restrictions. So, ensure to check your IPTV Player has the Parental Control feature by default.

Favorites Manager

Favorite Manager helps you to store all your favorite content in one place. If the IPTV Players are incompatible with the favorite manager, then you may need to note your favorite channels and VOD content separately. A Favorite Manager in the IPTV Player would be handy for the user’s convenience.

Modern Features

Also, make sure the IPTV Player you’re choosing is fully loaded with modern features. These modern features help to improve the streaming experience of the IPTV content. Some of the best modern features in IPTV Players are dynamic language switching, multiple playlist handling, Chromecast, 4K streaming, and more.

Precautions While Accessing IPTV Providers

It is hard to know whether your IPTV provider is legal. In that case, you need to be careful while streaming content on your devices.

Enable a VPN

You can choose the best VPN for IPTV that can help you with getting the best online security. It will also unblock any geographical restrictions on your provider’s end. Therefore, you can access the whole library of the service.

Interrupting Ads

Some of the IPTV providers include ads while streaming content. It is a way to monetize from streaming these contents. However, some of the ads might be a little sketchy. For instance, you can see ads for games and unnecessary products. It is better to use an ad-blocker while you have the same IPTV content on your device.


The IPTV providers who include pirated content do not use mainstream payment platforms. Instead, they use sketchy payment methods, which are the targets of hackers. So, when you provide your credit card details, they can be obtained by these hackers. That is why you need to choose a payment alternative like cryptocurrency. Make sure that the payment method does not link to your real identity.

Can I Stream IPTV on All Devices?

No. You cannot stream IPTV on all devices. Internet Protocol Television services are accessible only on certain devices. Some providers offer IPTV boxes that can be connected to a monitor or TV. Smart TVs are built-in with IP supports that can be connected to the internet or Wi-Fi connection. Other than Smart TV, IPTV can be accessed on a laptop or PC, Smartphone (Android & iOS), streaming devices (Firestick, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV, etc.), and Gaming Consoles like Xbox and PlayStation.

IPTV compatible devices

Do You Need a Set-Top Box for IPTV?

The answer is yes and no. If you’re using a smartphone or PC to stream IPTV, you don’t need a Set-Top Box. There are lots of best Set-Top Boxes available, and they are used only for streaming IPTV on Smart TVs. It translates the internet broadcasting and converts them to a convenient format supported by your home device. Nowadays, most IPTV services offer their own set-top box with the M3U URL and other login credentials. This is because traditional TVs are not designed with the ability to support IPTV directly from the internet.

IPTV Set-Top Box

Pros and Cons of the IPTV service

Before getting into the IPTV service, you should clearly know the advantages and disadvantages of the service.


There are lots of benefits you will get with IPTV. They are,

  • It features an interactive TV guide, and you will find the programs for the day with timings.
  • The bi-directional nature of IPTV enables personalization. With this, you can choose what and when to stream.
  • With automatic switching, mark shows, movies, series, etc., in the TV guide and schedule the channel to switch it automatically.
  • It provides an option to record any content and stream it at your convenience timings.
  • You can set parental control as a code on channels or content to restrict children from streaming them.
  • IPTV supports streaming certain channels in HD with better and sharper pictures or colors.
  • The service is not limited to TV as it works on multiple other devices like phones, PCs, tablets, etc.
  • Use the time-shifting feature to shift the program to your preferred time and stream them.


A few disadvantages of using IPTV are as follows.

  • IPTV uses IP to send and receive info, and this may cause you to experience loss or delay when the connection is not fast.
  • Many IPTVs have a suspicious origin, and illegal sources cannot be tracked easily.
  • At times, you require a decoder to receive, decompose, and decode the signal.

The Future of IPTV

Predicting the future of IPTV isn’t possible at the moment. This is because many providers include formats and pirated content that cannot be tracked. Without any doubt, IPTV services will find a large user base and popularity over time. According to a report, there is a high chance for subscription-based IPTV to gain users in the next decade.

Getting a subscription to IPTV services is recommended as they offer thousands of live TV channels, VOD, and other multimedia content. All of this content is available at very reasonable prices. Moreover, they demand only a stable internet connection. It is one of the noteworthy qualities of the provider. Still, make sure that the provider is stable and offers proper customer assistance before subscribing.