What Is IPTV? All You Need to Know About Internet TV

If you’ve cut the cord, you’ve probably considered using IPTV to get your fix of live TV. But what is IPTV? How does IPTV work? And which IPTV services should you use?

Keep reading to learn more.

Table of Contents

What Is IPTV?

IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television. It refers to the practice of streaming live TV channels over the web in real-time.

The concept started to gain traction in the 1990s. Commercial IPTV services in the UK, US, and Canada appeared towards the end of the decade, and by 2005, web capacity was sufficient to allow HD IPTV for the first time.

The increased bandwidth of today’s web means the practice of using IPTV to watch live TV is now more popular than ever.

What Is an IPTV Service?

An IPTV service refers to any provider that offers live TV over the web via subscription.

Services that provide IPTV can be both legal (such as Sling TV), or gray area (such as Mobdro and the services you’ll find on r/IPTV). The legality of gray area IPTV services depends on where you live.

And remember, although Mobdro is one of the best free IPTV providers, there are lots of Mobdro alternatives you can use.

What Can You Watch on IPTV?

soccer balls

Legal services typically only provide access to channels from a specific country, though package add-ons are sometimes available and can offer access to a limited number of international networks.

Grey area IPTV services might try to focus on one country but are likely to broadcast thousands of channels from around the world, often in HD quality.

The legally questionable IPTV also specializes in live sport. In fact, it’s so reliable, it’s a great alternative way to watch Sky Sports if you want to watch UK sport or pay-per-view events if you enjoy boxing, wrestling, and UFC. IPTV could even be a replacement for the entire Sky package.

Which Is the Best IPTV Service?

The best IPTV service depends on the platform you’re planning to use. For example, the best free IPTV services on Android are not the same as the free M3U-based IPTV providers.

To learn more, check out our list of the best IPTV services that fall into a legally gray area.

Typically, you can watch IPTV on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and on most of the leading streaming hardware.

How Does IPTV Work?

On the backend, the live channels are hosted on servers, which, as a subscriber, you can then access.

From an end-user perspective, you’ll either need to download the official app (in the case of IPTV services like FuboTV or Pluto TV), or download a third-party IPTV player and add the supplied M3U playlist (if you use a grey area service). Some of the best third-party apps include Tivimate and IPTV Smarters.

For an example of how to set up and use a third-party IPTV player, check out our explanation of how to install Eternal TV on a Fire Stick or Kodi and how to install Modbro on a Fire Stick.

If you want to take your IPTV game to the next level, you might also consider using an EPG playlist editor like Xtream. You can change the channel artwork, delete channels you do watch, create customized channel categories, and more.

What Is the Best IPTV Box?

Why the Nvidia Shield TV is awesome

Although you can watch IPTV on your computer, doing so won’t allow you to recreate that traditional TV experience.

For that, you will need to install the aforementioned IPTV app on a set-top box. Roku devices are not recommended. Instead, you should choose an Android-based device—such as a Fire Stick or Nvidia Shield—so you can sideload apps that might not be in official stores.

You can also use a box that’s specifically designed for IPTV services that offer MAC addresses; it won’t allow you to install other apps. Examples of such boxes are the MAG 322 and the Dreamlink T2.

If you use an Android box, make sure you install Kodi. The popular app has lots of IPTV add-ons for free TV (and you can also use Kodi to watch movies and TV shows).

What is the Best IPTV VPN?

Ideally, you should always use a VPN while watching IPTV, especially if you’re not using one of the mainstream apps.

Unfortunately, VPN support differs on a service-by-service basis. Some legal services block VPN connections to prevent people from circumventing geo-blocking restrictions. Despite that, you can still use a VPN with Netflix, even though they are “technically” blocked. Check out the best Netflix VPNs in our article before you sign up. You can also use a VPN with Amazon Prime Video.

Many gray area providers also block VPNs, so they can restrict the number of registered devices based on IP addresses.

As a workaround for gray area services, you could try to install the VPN at the router level. Some of the best VPNs for IPTV you should check out are CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN.

If you cannot use a VPN with your IPTV provider, check out the best VPN alternatives to protect you while streaming instead. One of the best alternatives is to use a free proxy.

Consider Other Streaming Services

IPTV only makes up one part of the streaming services sector. You can also use streaming services for watching movies and TV shows, live sport, and listening to music.

Check out our round-up of the best streaming services on the web right now to see what else is out there.