When we talk about internet streaming we come across several terms, IPTV is one of them. We are witnessing a paradigm alteration from traditional modes of transmission, such as cable or satellite TV, to Internet transmission, and IPTV as a system is playing an essential role in this transition phase.
Customers don’t care as much about content ownership as they care about content access. This is where IPTV comes in.
Let’s take a nearer look at what exactly IPTV is, how its architecture works, types of IPTV services, and the future of IPTV.
What is IPTV?
IPTV refers to Internet Protocol TV in which the Internet is used to broadcast live TV programs and videos or on-demand. IPTV means a system in which digital TV service is presented to the subscriber via Internet Protocol technology through a broadband connection or the Internet.
It’s somewhat different from digital video, accessed by millions of users on websites or in apps like YouTube or Netflix, but it shares the same ubiquitous, ubiquitous nature. Additionally, unlike a standard cable or satellite connection, multiple TVs can use a single internal IPTV subscription.
IPTV provides viewers with the added benefit and convenience of being able to select the show they want to watch where and when they want to watch it, as well as adapting to all the TV shows being broadcast.
To understand how IPTV differs from traditional TV, let’s compare the conventional way of watching TV with IPTV:
Cable and satellite work by enabling users to “tune” to specific channels in that signal and the fundamental difference is that cable goes through a wired connection. In contrast, the satellite is wireless (until it reaches your home, anyway).
A great example of cable television is Time Warner Cable, which is delivered over a coaxial cable connection, and an instance of satellite television is a provider like DirecTV which is broadcast and delivered to viewers over radio waves.
IPTV employs an Internet Protocol (IP) based network to deliver TV channels to users’ cable boxes.
Internet networks differ from cable and satellite networks in providing content through the same client-server model supplied by email, websites, and other Internet services.
As we will observe later in this blog, IP or Internet Protocol is the language used to convey data packets between computers connected to the Internet.
The consumer requests and receives television programming, and the video content is delivered to the viewer over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, not over cables or satellites.
Unlike satellite or cable where content is broadcast in real-time, in the broadcast and forget-me-not model, IPTV can store programs on servers at the end of the broadcast, allowing users to search for Internet content at all times.
How Does IPTV Work?
IPTV is very comparable to browsing the Internet rather than browsing traditional channels. It uses IP (Internet Protocol) only, a transport protocol which is a delivery mechanism for delivering videos to the viewer.
When a viewer ticks on a TV show or requests a video, the video from different sources (servers) is split into data packets and sent over the Internet.
Video servers transmit programs over an optical cable to an existing home over an Internet connection, and requests are sent, and programs are resent.
Let’s take a glance at the IPTV architecture to understand better how IPTV works.
Based on the network architecture of the service provider, two main types of IPTV architecture can be considered for the IPTV implementation: centralized and distributed.
A centralized architecture model is a relatively simple and easy to manage solution. Since every media content is stored on centralized servers, it is not necessary to have a complete content distribution system.
A centralized architecture is generally suitable for a network that provides relatively few implementations of VOD services, has an adequate edge and core bandwidth, and an efficient content delivery network (CDN).
The dispersed architecture is as scalable as the centralized model. Still, it has the inherent advantages of utilizing the bandwidth and system management features that are essential to managing a more extensive server network.
Operators who plan to implement a relatively large system should therefore consider applying a distributed architecture model from the start.
The distributed architecture requires intelligent and sophisticated content delivery technologies to increase the efficiency of multimedia content delivery through a network of service providers.
Typical IPTV Network Architecture Diagram –
The central unit receives the transmission content of satellites and local antennas. The central unit is where the live TV channels and AV sources are encrypted, encrypted and broadcast as IP multicast streams.
The CPU will also contain ad servers, live TV streaming servers, servers, and a video on demand (VOD) platform, where on-demand funds are stored and serve as an IP unicast stream when ‘a user submits a request. Sometimes the VOD platform can be located and seen as part of a central IPTV unit.
The inquired videos and TV channels are delivered to the viewer via a delivery network consisting of a robust internet connection using fibre optics from the end of the IPTV stations.
The viewer will get this signal at their end via their local or preferred ISP, which may differ from different options like broadband, fibre, DSL, etc.
When a viewer subscribes to a particular IPTV service, a set-top box (STB) is provided for the service. The decoder is part of the end equipment that decodes and decodes TV and VOD broadcasts for display on a TV screen.
This STB is connected to the internet connection (router) of the viewer and uses the Internet to display the video and TV content to the viewer.
The viewer searches for videos or TV channels via an interactive portal on the STB, which allows him to browse various IPTV services, such as the VOD catalogue.
Although this is a typical example of an IPTV architecture model, due to the wide range of service providers in the market now and the computing capabilities available in the market, each service provider can choose to implement a slightly different architecture than what suits your geographic needs, area, terminal internet connection, local market conditions and requirements, and business model.
However, the principles remain the same and may not differ much from what you see here.
Types of IPTV Services
In addition to broadcasting traditional TV channels, IPTV also offers the following interactive services:
- Video on demand – individual delivery of video content to the subscriber. Enables users to watch any movie from the VoD server media library.
- Near Video on Demand – this is an on-demand video service intended for several users who have subscribed to the nVoD service. The content feed schedule is compiled in advance, and subscribers can check the schedule and view the content based on their interest.
- Move TV – Move TV allows subscribers to watch live shows later so they can play and resume when it suits them. Rewind option is also available for TV shows.
- TV on Demand (TVoD) – The selected TV channels are recorded so that they can be watched if necessary.
- Live TV – with or without interactivity affixed to the currently broadcast television programs.
Current state and the Future of IPTV
IPTV is on the path of continuous growth in recent years. The aggregate number of IPTV subscribers worldwide has now passed the 130 million mark.
The net addition of six million subscribers is the largest in the past 24 months to the end of 2015. They were mainly driven by typical suspects, such as China, which registered 3.7 million new subscribers to IPTV in the fourth quarter from 2015.
Europe and Asia are the leading regions in terms of the total number of subscribers. But in terms of service revenue, Europe and North America account for a larger share of global revenue, due to the meagre average revenue per user (ARPU) in China and India, the fastest-growing market (and ultimately the biggest) is Asia.
According to a market research report from Zion, the global IPTV market is expected to rise at a CAGR of approximately 18.01% to generate $93.59 billion in 2021 from around $34.67 billion in 2015, amid 2016 and 2021.
The second transparency market research report predicts that revenues will reach $ 79.38 billion by 2020, up from $ 24.94 billion in 2013, with a substantial CAGR of 18, 1%.
The increase in IPTV’s market share will mostly come at the expense of cable, and satellite will hold up quite well. Satellite platforms are profiting from the growth of IPTV, as they bring channels in essential parts for distribution through fixed terrestrial broadband infrastructure.
IPTV networks are available in countries like Russia, the UK, Canada, India, Germany, China, France, Belgium, Sweden, and even the Dominican Republic, according to this list of providers of global IPTV services obtained from Reddit.
Although global players provide IPTV services that drive its growth, we are seeing a shift in the use of IPTV and believe that viewing habits will shift more to OTT and SVOD as services like Netflix and Hulu in the part of an ongoing trend.