Although traditional TVs provide a good number of channels, they are still limited and you can only view them when they’re broadcast. However, with IPTVs, you can watch programmes whenever and wherever you feel like watching. Read below to know more about IPTVs and how they work.

What does IPTV mean? | How do IPTVs work? | What are the best free IPTV apps for Android TV?


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Different Types of IPTVs And How They Work

What does IPTV mean?

An IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) allows you to watch TV programmes like you are browsing the internet. It gives you the freedom to choose which programmes to watch at a time that’s convenient for you. IPTV has an advantage over satellite, terrestrial, or cable TV systems because it has an embedded return channel. This enables a service provider to add more interactivity to an IPTV subscription.

It also comes in three different types, each has its own way of working. The three types include VOD, time-shifted, and live. All of them can be accessed using an internet-enabled device, say, a TV that is connected to your home network or WiFi.

Video on demand (VOD)

This is the most popular type of IPTV service. Streaming media services like Netflix is a prime example of a VOD. It lets you choose a TV show or movie of interest from a vast selection. You pay the subscription to gain access to digital content from movies to TV series on your television, PC or mobile device.

Time-shifted IPTV

TV news networks like BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) have a streaming media player online called BBC iPlayer. It makes BBC’s broadcasted programmes available online so that anyone can enjoy the network’s content at a time that’s convenient for them.


As the name suggests, it involves airing of live TV programmes on the internet, allowing viewers to watch their favourite events on live channels in real time. An instance of a TV network is NBC, which sometimes delivers its programmes online so more people can catch the latest episode of a TV series or Saturday Night Live at the same time as in the US.

How do IPTVs work?

Traditional TVs broadcast programmes by converting them into radio waves and making them travel through the air to a home’s rooftop antenna. Then, the antenna encodes the waves into electric signals which the TV decodes to create sounds and pictures. So, how are IPTVs different?

Store programmes

Unlike live programmes, pre-recorded movies and shows have to be stored and displayed online so anyone can select and stream them on demand. Some streaming media services limit the number of programmes they air online to help regulate the total bandwidth and its effect on the internet. For instance, if a popular TV network in your country made all of its programmes available online, a large portion of your country’s internet bandwidth would be used up. Thus, it will slow down your country’s internet traffic.

Prepare Programmes

TV programmes, whether pre-recorded or live, are encoded into a digital version so they can be delivered as small pieces of information and sent to their destination over the internet. Also, due to the limitations on bandwidth, some videos are required to be compressed so they can travel smoothly with no delays or buffer. The same goes for TV programmes which are converted into either MPEG2 or MPEG4 format. The latter provides better quality TV images and uses only half as much bandwidth compared to MPEG2.

Stream Programmes

When you are going to access a website to watch programmes via media players online, you’re making a temporary link between your computer and the server that caters the programmes. Your computer will request all files it needs to create on your browser to build the web page you want to access from the server. Servers are often fast enough that many computers (or clients) can download files with little to no delay.

All in all, IPTV services offer hundreds to thousands of channels as well as professional sports season passes for football, basketball, and more.

Is IPTV the same as an Android box?

No, IPTV isn’t the same as an Android TV box. When it comes to live broadcast, IPTV displays clearer resolution and has better fluency than the Android TV box. Although the Android TV box has more choices in channels and TV programmes, it is quite likely to experience pauses from time to time. That said, the advantage of a TV box is that it can achieve a lot of functions including playing games, listening to songs, watching YouTube videos, and more. If your interest mostly lies in live sporting events, then IPTV is a better option.

What are the best free IPTV apps for Android TV?

  • IPTV Smarters Pro
  • Lazy IPTV
  • TiviMate
  • GSE Smart IPTV
  • Perfect Player IPTV
  • OTT Navigator