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What is IPTV?

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has revolutionised how we experience digital TV by delivering it over the internet instead of relying on traditional terrestrial, satellite, or cable methods. Unlike other methods, IPTV eliminates the need to download media before viewing, allowing you to stream content directly from the source seamlessly.
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IPTV is television broadcast over Internet Protocols. This means its television services are provided via your 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.

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IPTV vs streaming

Although it may sound confusing, IPTV isn’t necessarily the same thing as streaming, as we tend to refer to it. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus are examples of Over The Top (OTT) content. OTT content is delivered via the internet but on an open and public internet connection rather than a private one. This means you can access it from your computer on a standard internet connection.

By contrast, IPTV content is delivered via a closed or private connection and typically requires a set-top box to access it. IPTV content is more similar to traditional satellite or cable subscriptions, as broadband and TV providers such as BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media allow you to access digital TV content via your broadband connection.

Types of IPTV content in the UK

IPTV content comes in several different formats:

1. Catch-up TV

Most TV set-top boxes include catch-up TV as well as the ability to pause, rewind, and record live TV. This is a useful tool but it’s limited to a specific window of time, allowing you to catch up on, for example, the last 30 minutes of a show that you might have missed.

2. Video on Demand

Video on Demand is, like the name suggests, video content you can select and play on-demand. This will include things like box sets, box office purchases or rentals that you can select and view whenever you like.

Live IPTV streaming

Live IPTV streaming is live broadcasting delivered via your internet connection as opposed to by satellite, the most popular being concerts and live sports events.

Which providers offer IPTV?

Most major broadband providers in the UK include IPTV services that are delivered via a TV set-top box and require a compatible broadband connection.

Sky On Demand

While the majority of Sky’s TV content is still delivered via satellite, many of its services are provided by IPTV, such as Sky Box Sets and On Demand. You will need a Sky Q set-top box and an active internet connection to use these IPTV services.

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BT customers can access BT TV via a YouView box, giving them access to a range of TV packages including entertainment channels, sports channels and movie channels.

To get BT TV, you would need to also have a BT broadband subscription.

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TalkTalk TV

While TalkTalk TV options have been significantly reduced in recent months, the provider still has some options for its IPTV service. Like BT TV, TalkTalk TV is delivered using a YouView set-top box and allows you to watch, pause, rewind and record live TV.

While its TalkTalk TV Boosts have since been replaced with the option to add-on NOW TV memberships, you can still use the IPTV services to watch free-to-air channels.

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Virgin Media

Virgin Media’s IPTV offerings are powered by TiVo and are bundled in with its incredibly fast cable broadband packages.

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Is IPTV any good?

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to digital TV services. And with the growing success and popularity of platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus, TV and broadband providers are working hard to offer comparable services that can be bundled in with their broadband and TV deals.

Benefits of IPTV

1. Flexibility

The flexibility to watch content whenever you want, unlike traditionally scheduled TV shows, is one of the biggest advantages of IPTV. Whether you’re catching up on the latest shows you missed or binge-watching box sets, there’s no set time you need to watch.

2. Accessibility

Unlike traditional terrestrial, satellite or cable TV, you can access IPTV content whenever you want from a suitable device, including a smart TV, laptop or smartphone.

3. Price:

To compete with platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus, IPTV services are usually competitively priced, and will probably be available bundled with your home broadband package.

How do I get IPTV?

To use IPTV, you need to have a connection with an IPTV provider that 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 fee if you’re a new customer.

When comparing TV deals, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Package price

  • Cost of installation

  • Other perks of the broadband bundle

  • Cost of set-top box

  • Speed of connection

Check out our latest TV deals and get access to all the great IPTV content that’s available.

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Which streaming service should I get?

We compare some of the biggest streaming platforms to decide once and for all, which streaming platform is the best: Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus, NOW, or Sky.

Read our guide to TV streaming services
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How to get streaming services for free in the UK

The cost of streaming services can quickly add up, so here's how to get streaming services for free in the UK (legally).

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NOW TV channels

What channels are on NOW TV?

Interested in the flexibility of NOW TV but not sure what you can actually get with it? This guide gives you all the channels you can get with NOW TV memberships.

See all the channels available on NOW