What Is IPTV?

By Emily KringsSep 27, 2023

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is a method for delivering television content through the internet instead of traditional television formats like broadcast, cable, or satellite. It does this with a privately managed network, such as a LAN, WAN, or ISP.

For business owners, content creators, brands, and entrepreneurs, IPTV is more than just a technological advancement – it’s a strategic opportunity. IPTV may or may not be the right format for sharing your video with the world, but it’s definitely worth exploring.

Ultimately, if you’re looking to produce and distribute your own video content to an audience, you should at least understand how IPTV works. Don’t let this unique technology pass you by – learn how to get direct access to viewers and control how you monetize that engagement!

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

What is IPTV?

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IPTV refers to Internet Protocol Television, and it’s simply a more modern method for distributing video content. Now, you can share video with an audience over the internet, as opposed to terrestrial television or other past television formats.

IPTV vs. Traditional Television

The biggest difference between IPTV and traditional television is IPTV eliminates the need for satellite and cable, so the setup is much simpler for viewers since they don’t need extra boxes, cables, dishes, or antennas. All you need to access IPTV is an internet-enabled device, such as a computer or smart TV, and a strong internet connection.

Aside from the technical differences, there’s one other way in which IPTV is very different. 

With traditional television, a signal is being broadcast whether a viewer tunes into that channel or not. With IPTV, a viewer will only see content that they’ve specifically requested. This conserves bandwidth and gives audiences a lot more control over when (and what) they watch.

How IPTV Works

At a high level, here’s how IPTV works:

  1. You add video content to a host server connected to the internet
  2. When a viewer wants to watch one of your videos, they send a request to the server
  3. The server sends the video via IP packets straight to the viewer’s set-top box or IP-based connected TV
  4. The viewer watches their chosen content in real-time as live or on-demand video
  5. When the viewer is done, the content remains available to access

All of this takes place via servers dedicated to transmitting this content as live TV, video on demand (VOD), and interactive TV (iTV). Each of these formats serves a different purpose, catering to various viewer needs and preferences:

  • Live TV: This mimics traditional television broadcasting, allowing viewers to watch scheduled programs in real-time
  • Video on Demand (VOD): VOD services allow viewers to choose and view content at their leisure from a vast library of on-demand videos
  • Interactive TV (iTV): iTV facilitates a two-way interaction between the viewer and the service, enabling users to customize their viewing experience, interact with content, and access additional information or features

The Value of IPTV

Now, why does this matter? What makes IPTV so worthwhile?

Well, internet speeds are increasing rapidly while the cost of data continues to go down at the same time. These trends make IPTV an affordable and convenient option for consumers around the world to view video content.

In addition, IPTV offers a lot more flexibility for viewers in choosing what to watch and when. IPTV even allows for quality-of-life features like pausing, rewinding, and searching for content – things we may take for granted now but weren’t so common even 10 years ago.

Most importantly, IPTV is affordable and easy to use for viewers and content creators. 

IPTV Examples

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What do you do when you’re done with work for the day and head home to relax? If you’re like millions of others around the world, you might fire up a service like Sling TV, Hulu Live TV, or Verizon Fios TV. 

Believe it or not, these platforms are a few of the most prominent examples of IPTV, with all of their TV shows and movies consumed through the internet.

Many businesses also use IPTV to distribute video through on-premises televisions, such as hotels, airports, schools, and sports stadiums. With that in mind, did you know you can create your own IPTV for video content and reach audiences online?

As an example, say you’re involved in your local sports scene, and there just isn’t a lot of TV coverage of local matches. Thanks to IPTV, you could become a broadcaster of live or on-demand video content and generate revenue through ads, tickets, or ongoing subscriptions!


Okay, we’ve touched on IPTV, but what is over-the-top (OTT), and how do the two compare?

OTT is a term referring to any streaming service that provides content over the public internet. An OTT streaming platform provides its content directly to viewers through the web on devices like TVs, tablets, smartphones, and computers. 

Common examples of OTT platforms include Disney+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video. Here are three of the biggest differences between IPTV and OTT:

  • Infrastructure: IPTV is a closed, controlled system with privately managed networks, while OTT uses an open, public network.
  • Quality: IPTV is more reliable with a higher image and audio quality, but it’s more costly – while OTT is more variable in quality based on any given user’s available bandwidth, but also cheaper to deploy.
  • Accessibility: OTT is more accessible because it only requires an internet connection  (data or Wi-Fi), while IPTV requires more hardware (such as a router and set-top box), an on-premises installation, and an active subscription to the IPTV provider. 

Which One is Better and Why?

Honestly, there’s no such thing as “better” when it comes to IPTV vs. OTT. The real question is, which is a better fit for your business if you want to deliver original video content to your audience?

IPTV subscription packages are usually expensive enough to compete with traditional cable or satellite TV packages. By comparison, OTT services make money with monthly subscriptions as low as $5 per month or even free with ads.

At Maestro, we believe that OTT is probably a better fit for most businesses, organizations, and individual creators looking to host and stream their video content because it allows you to reach a much wider audience on various devices. 

On the other hand, IPTV is an excellent choice for a local broadcasting use case. Ultimately, you’ll want to do your own research to determine whether OTT or IPTV is the right choice for you.

Is IPTV Legal?

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Yes, IPTV and the technology that underpins it are totally legal. However, like with any platform, IPTV can cross the line if it’s used to broadcast copyrighted content without permission. The same applies to OTT platforms, of course.

But most broadcasters and content creators are within their rights to use IPTV to get their original content out there.

What Are the Legal Implications of IPTV?

The real legal concern here has nothing to do with the underlying technology of IPTV but, instead, the actual content that may appear on it. 

As a business or organization using IPTV, you can face legal liability if you’re not careful only to share original content. Broadcasting copyrighted material without a license can lead to a copyright infringement lawsuit. It can also lead to fines or jail time. At the same time, viewers of this unauthorized content may suffer penalties as well, including formal warnings, fines, and even legal action. 

Regardless of your platform or technology, be sure you have the full rights to broadcast it – end of story.

Stream on Maestro


We hope this article on IPTV has helped you learn more about the many exciting opportunities available to distribute your video content. While it’s not the only way to broadcast your videos, IPTV is a worthwhile option to consider.

Here at Maestro, our popular video hosting platform is primarily an OTT solution, which tends to be the best fit for most content creators and brands looking to distribute their video content to the largest audience possible. 

Maestro strikes the perfect balance between the versatility and power of an enterprise-level video platform but at a much greater value that’s great for both brands and solopreneurs. Our OTT platform allows you to create interactive video experiences, monetize your videos, and even build a unique branded site for live streamed and on-demand video content.

Are you ready to publish and monetize your own high-quality videos on Maestro? Sign up today to get started for free.

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