What is IPTV

A person using a laptop at home.
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / ImYanis)

IPTV means Internet Protocol Television, the delivery of television content over the web instead of via satellite or cable. This technology allows you to stream media continuously from an online source and enjoy a show with minimal disturbance. 

IPTV services give you access to multiple TV channels through your internet connection. Most such services charge a monthly subscription fee, while a few are free. The paid ones are often more affordable than traditional cable subscriptions. Better off, they enable you to stream videos on your schedule instead of the schedule set by the cable provider. 

Some IPTV services let you stream live content similar to how it works on cable. For instance, you can stream sporting events directly to your PC or mobile phone. 

Most IPTV services known to the public are legal ones like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu that offer users access to an extensive content library for a subscription fee. However, many others let you stream content illegally. Their benefit is that they grant access to content that may be restricted in your region by legal platforms and let you watch for free. 

If you decide to use an illegal streaming platform, there are specific precautions to hide your identity. We have seen copyright holders suing individuals for watching their pirated content, and it’s not something you want to be on the receiving end of, which is why you should mask your identity. Note that this is an informational piece: we don’t condone piracy.

Types of IPTV services 

These IPTV services let you stream real-time events, often sport matches, speeches, or award shows. The live content broadcasts over the web, and you can watch it on any device connected to the internet, including your smartphone. Compare this to cable, where you can only stream to a TV set.

Video-on-demand services let you access videos without the constraints of a broadcasting schedule. You get a library of content that you can watch at any time. You can stream movies, documentaries, reality shows, and other types of content exactly when you want. Your favorite shows will adjust to your schedule instead of yours adjusting to the shows.

TV-on-demand services let you watch movies or shows individually instead of a recurring subscription granting you access to a library of content. Here, you'll have to pay for each piece you want to watch, making it seem less enticing than video-on-demand. 

With a TV-on-demand service, you can purchase a show you want to watch outright or rent it for a limited time. The latter is usually cheaper than the former.

Precautions when using IPTV platforms 

1. Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) service helps you stay private online by hiding your true IP address and creating an encrypted connection between your device and your internet service provider. 

For instance, you can be in Brazil and browse using an IP address in the US. If there's any legal requirement for your ISP to provide the IP addresses of users who watched pirated content online, they won’t be able to identify your true IP address. Instead, they’ll only pinpoint the IP address offered by your VPN provider, which doesn’t tie to your real identity. 

Furthermore, a VPN lets you access content restricted in your region. You can switch between IP addresses of different countries to watch content available in those regions but unavailable in yours. 

2. Be careful about advertisements

Streaming sites offering copyrighted content for free earn revenue by showing ads that pop up throughout the webpage or when streaming content, like cable commercials. However, the ads on such sites tend to be for sketchy products or services. 

It’s common to see advertisements for dubious investments, games, medical products, etc. Malware vendors also tend to use illegal streaming sites as vectors to infect devices. You should avoid clicking any advertisement on such sites. If possible, download an ad-blocker to avoid advertisements together.

3. Payments

Streaming sites that charge users to access pirated content can’t use mainstream payment processors because of their questionable legal status. Thus, they tend to gravitate toward sketchy payment gateways with lax security features. These gateways are common targets for hackers looking to steal credit/debit card data, so you should avoid using them as much as possible. 

If you really need to make a payment, use a prepaid debit card or look for alternatives like cryptocurrency that doesn’t tie to your real identity.  

Risks of using an illegal IPTV platform 

1. Unreliability

Illegal streaming sites play hide and seek with copyright holders and law enforcement agencies, so it’s common to see them abruptly switch domains and hosting providers. The abrupt switching often requires reprogramming of the website, which can be challenging to do well in a short period, leading to unreliable service. 

The hosts that illegal streaming sites use also tend to less reliable than mainstream cloud computing hosts that legal providers use.

2. Legal Action

It’s not out of the question to see lawsuits targeted at end users of illegal streaming sites, although copyright holders mostly go after the hosts and operators rather than end users. Using illegal streaming sites puts you at the risk of copyright infringement lawsuits, so beware.

3. Viruses/Malware

Illegal streaming sites are one of the main vectors for infecting devices with viruses and malware. Using them puts you at the risk of falling victim to data theft and unauthorized access enabled by computer viruses. 

Considerations when choosing an IPTV service 

Some critical factors to consider when choosing an IPTV service include; 

  • Price: Pick a service that delivers the best content selection for the most affordable price.  
  • Exclusive shows: Streaming platforms offer exclusive content to differentiate themselves from competitors. If you have favorite shows exclusive to a platform, it may be best to subscribe to that one. 
  • Legality: You don’t need to worry about hiding your identity when using a legal streaming platform like Netflix or Disney+. However, if you’re using an illegal one, ensure to follow the precautions we mentioned to hide your identity to avoid legal troubles.   

At this point, you should have a good overview of IPTV services and how to make the best of them. We hope this article is of great help to you.  

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Stefan Ionescu

Stefan has always been a lover of tech. He graduated with an MSc in geological engineering but soon discovered he had a knack for writing instead. So he decided to combine his newfound and life-long passions to become a technology writer. As a freelance content writer, Stefan can break down complex technological topics, making them easily digestible for the lay audience.