Televisions have been a staple of the home for decades, but as the years pass and technology improves, so have TVs. They’ve transformed from small screen, chunky cubes, to enormous flat screens, filling our walls while only sipping power in comparison to the old style of TV set. However, it’s not just the technology in the televisions themselves that’s advancing; as technology everywhere is making strides, people are changing the ways they get content onto their screens. Leading the charge in this market of alternative distribution is IPTV content delivery, but what is IPTV?
What Is IPTV and How Does It Work?
IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television. The IP refers to a technology standard created in the 1970s and is behind the connectivity of many devices we’ve come to rely upon, such as laptops and smartphones. This allows the internet to usurp more traditional methods of TV broadcasting to deliver content in an increasingly flexible manner for the consumer. Traditionally, television content is broadcasted via one of three methods, and viewed as it is broadcasted, following a strict schedule. The traditional methods are:
- Cable: This works by transmitting electrical signals via a physical cable straight into your home. Depending on your location it may be a fiber optic, a cable which uses light instead of electricity for higher speeds, covering the distance to your local area and then switching to copper cable to connect to your building.
- Antenna: Radio waves are broadcast through the air and received by the antenna mounted to your home or, in bygone times, sitting on top of your TV set. The antenna converts these radio waves into electrical signals which can then be understood by your TV and turned into sound and picture.
- Satellite: Functions similarly to the antenna method, however, instead of only broadcasting across distances through the air, satellite instead sends signals into space, which are then bounced back down to Earth.
Unlike the above, IPTV is broadcast over the internet, meaning you can access your content as long as you’re connected to the web. This has the benefit of being more flexible than traditional television as internet access is ubiquitous in our connected age, being able to take advantage of many different technologies to gain the same end result.
What Types of IPTV Are There?
Whereas traditional television comes in one format and is broadcast on a generic schedule that may not fit a viewer’s schedule, IPTV comes in different forms which can be broken down into three different services:
- Live: Works in the same manner as the old fashioned way of watching TV, but delivered through the internet instead. This format is normally used for live events, like news and sports.
- Time-shifted (Catch-up TV): As the colloquial name would suggest, this is a method of catching up on programming you may have missed, or simply wish to rewatch. Content can be watched whenever the consumer desires, but is usually restricted to being available only within a short window, typically a few days after it was initially broadcast.
- Video on Demand (VOD): Similar to catch-up TV, content is available whenever the consumer wants to watch it, however, there is no time restriction on when to view the content. Instead, paid subscriptions are provided which allow unlimited access to a large library of content to be watched at the consumer’s leisure.
Internet speed for IPTV is improving everywhere, and devices capable of using an IPTV program, from smart TVs to game consoles and every dongle in between, are becoming cheaper and more commonplace. With so much potential for growth available, companies who embrace the new ways of watching television are sure to flourish.