In the UK, the four ways to access digital TV are terrestrial, satellite, cable and IPTV.
As the name suggests, IPTV is television broadcast over Internet Protocols, which just means it's television services provided through internet and broadband connections instead of radio frequency. It's one of the most efficient ways to broadcast television, and it's one of the most common nowadays.
IPTV refers to how TV signals are received, not the device you're watching TV on. Watching television shows on your computer using an on-demand service (like 4oD or Netflix) or watching video on your computer isn't the same thing as IPTV.
With IPTV, you can get a huge array of channels transmitted to your home TV over your home phone line using an IPTV set-top box. IPTV is often bundled with packages offering broadband.
Who is offering IPTV?
IPTV is offered by most major providers these days, including:
Powered by the YouView box, BT's service features some fantastic premium programming, including highly-rated sports coverage, and is available with home telephone and internet bundles.
Virgin Media's equivalent (powered by TiVo) can be combined with some excellent fibre-optic broadband packages.
TalkTalk's IPTV service also uses a YouView box and stands out for its affordable price points and flexible TV Boosts, which allow you to dip in and out of the content you want — like movies or sports — on a monthly basis.
Interested in BT YouView? Compare BT TV Deals now.
Prefer Virgin Media? Compare Virgin Media TV deals now.
Considerations when buying IPTV
- Package price
- Cost of installation
- Other perks of the broadband bundle
- Cost of set-top box
- Speed of connection
In order to use IPTV, you need to have a connection with an IPTV provider who will supply you with a set-top box. Most premium packages from BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media provide the box and waive an installation free.
Providers also offer a 'catch-up TV' feature which allows users to pause, fast forward and rewind programmes. Some set-top boxes also let you record TV.