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Thanks to the constant evolution of streaming, there are more and more ways to view content. And, in addition to all the services offered by official channels and platforms such as Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Disney+ and company, operators have been using another way to be able to replicate their content for some time: IPTV.
In this article, we want to focus on explaining what is IPTV, how it works, and how it differs from the streaming platforms that exist on the Internet. In addition, we will also mention what an IPTV list is, which is another way to view your company’s broadcast content.
What is IPTV?
IPTV, whose acronym is Internet Protocol TV, relies on streaming technology to deliver its content. It is usually used by operators that are able to access this content through their TV packages and decoders. Thus, if we pay a monthly fee for any TV service provided by companies such as Movistar, Orange, or Vodafone, we are accessing this content via IPTV.
IPTV uses the bandwidth of our Internet connection to provide live and on-demand content. To access these services, we communicate with our company’s private servers through our decoders and routers, and the hardware is responsible for receiving the signal, decoding, and compressing it so that we can see the content.
To watch traditional TV channels, we usually always need an antenna, satellite, or cable to view the content. However, with IPTV, you can simply connect the decoder to your router and TV via an HDMI cable or other compatible means to transmit audio and video signals.
In addition to the content available via IPTV, we can also have additional features of the decoder itself, such as the possibility to record TV content or rewind programs.
What’s the difference between IPTV and OTT?
The service offered through IPTV is different from what companies offer us through OTT (Over the Top). Here, content is provided over the Internet and streaming, just like Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Disney +, and Co. The main difference is that the services offered through OTT are visible to the public as long as they are registered on the relevant platform, whereas IPTV can only be accessed by customers of the companies that sign up for these services.
Regarding OTT, there are also companies that offer such services. A very obvious example is Movistar+ Lite because to access the content you only need to subscribe and install the application on your mobile device, console, and TV, or access it via the web. The offer here is more limited and we do not have the special features of the decoder, but we are not bound by the hardware.
Another important point about OTTs is that they are not allocated a fixed bandwidth on our network, but the quality of the stream will be correlated to the free bandwidth on our network. IPTV, on the other hand, does allocate a specific amount of bandwidth, making the quality of the content more consistent.
In short, IPTV is the mechanism used by companies to deliver live and on-demand TV content to us, with the main requirements being a decoder and an Internet connection. However, there is another way to access the operator’s content and distribute it over the Internet: IPTV listings.
What is an IPTV list?
These IPTV listings are usually in .m3u, .m3u8, or w3u format and are essentially compilations of streaming channels that can be accessed through programs such as Kodi, V LC, or any application capable of decoding these listings. Most listings circulating on the Internet are compilations of free national channels, although there are also paid listings that (illegally) rely on subscribers signing up for their operator’s IPTV service to re-encode and re-transmit their signal over the Internet, communicating with this listing via the IP address linked to the device.
IPTV Listings for Smart TVs
If we want to access these lists through the TV, on Android TV or Fire TV operating systems, we have Kodi, VLC, and many other alternatives, but for smart TVs with closed operating systems such as Tizen or webOS, we must resort to other applications that can be found in the app store of our TV. For other apps, we also have the option of using a USB stick to install them.
Some examples of these free applications include OttPlayer, SSIPTV, Smart IPTV, etc. To add an IPTV list, simply enter the IP addresses of these lists into the app and the channels will be automatically added to the list. We can also choose to add the URLs of these lists or upload the corresponding M3U files to the app.
The main drawback of free IPTV listings is their low security, as many of them can be gateways that compromise our online security and privacy. It is by hosting on sites of dubious origin that our computers can be infected with some type of malware.
IPTV: How to run it on a PC
If you want to know how IPTV on PC works, this is the best part of the guide for you: in fact, in the next paragraphs, I will show you some software that allows you to access online TV channels from a computer with Windows, macOS or Linux operating system.
What (Windows / macOS / Linux)
Among the different software available for PC, I would like to recommend Kodi, completely free and open-source software that allows you to turn your computer into a multimedia center and watch IPTV with the right add-ons.
Kodi is widely compatible with different platforms, such as smartphones, tablets, and TV boxes with Android, but for now let’s focus on its PC version, which is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. to download the Kodi installation file, link to its official website and click on the icon corresponding to the operating system you are using on your computer.
Once the download is complete, if you are using Windows, double-click on the .exe file you obtained and click the Yes, Next and I agree on buttons. At this point, select the components you want to add to the installation, then click Next, Next, Install, and finally click the Finish button. On the other hand, if you are using Windows 10, you can download the Kodi desktop application directly from the Microsoft Store by clicking the Get button.
If you have a Mac, to install Kodi, double-click the .dmg file downloaded from the program’s official website and drag the Kodi icon into the Applications folder. If you have any questions and want to go over the installation process, you can check out my guide dedicated to that topic.
Now start Kodi and follow the instructions I’m about to give you. From the main screen of the program, click on the icon with the gear wheel to access the software settings and change the display language. Then click the Interface Settings button and select the Region > Language > Italian item to translate the program interface into Italian.
Now, return to the Kodi home screen and click on the TV entry. In the message displayed to you, click the Insert Browser Plugin button and click the PVR IPTV Simple Client Plugin. Now, click the Enable button and then click the Configure button to add the M3U list.
At this point, on the screen you see, go to the General tab and click on the URL Playlist M3U word and enter the URL of the M3U list. or, click on the icon next to it to import the list from a file on your computer. When you are done, press the OK button twice in succession: you will find the TV channel in the TV section of the Home screen.
If you want to learn more about how Kodi works, I suggest you read some of my guides dedicated to the topic, such as the one dedicated to its operation or the one in which I give you some advice about its configuration.
Other software for IPTV on PC
Kodi is not the only software that can be used to watch IPTV on your computer: there are several programs that can be used for this purpose. In the next few lines, I will list some alternative programs that can be used.
- VLC ( Windows / macOS / Linux ) – this program is one of the most famous free players, compatible with many platforms, including computers with Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. Among its features, there is the ability to reproduce IPTV listings in M3U format.
- MyIPTV Player ( Windows ) – is a free application for Windows 10 available on the Microsoft Store. It allows users to enjoy IPTV visuals after importing M3U listings.
- Perfect Player ( Windows / Linux ) – is a free player, one of its features is to allow you to play TV channels from the M3U list. The software is easy to use and can also be installed on smartphones and tablets with the Android operating system.
For more solutions and insights on how to watch IPTV on your PC, I suggest you refer to my guide here.
IPTV: How it works on Android
There are many apps for watching IPTV on Android: among them, I recommend GSE SMART IPTV, a free app that allows you to import lists in M3U and JSON formats in order to use TV channels with IPTV technology. It is supported by banners that can be removed by purchasing the premium version of the application for 2.09 Euros.
If you are interested in GSE SMART IPTV, go to the page on the IPTV APP and click on the Install and Open button. After launching GSE SMART IPTV, you agree to the request for access to the device’s features and then click “Agree” and “OK” in the boxes displayed to you.
At this point, to add a list in M3U or JSON format to the application, access the Remote Playlists or Local Playlists section you found in the sidebar by clicking the ☰ icon in the upper left corner. Then press the + key and select the file format you want to add by entering a URL or importing a file from the device’s memory.
In these sections you will find the added lists: just click on them, then select the channel group and finally select the channel you want to play, using the word “Play” in the display box.
If you want to learn more about this application, or if you want to learn about other applications that can be installed on a smartphone or tablet with Android OS, I suggest you read my guide dedicated to IPTV applications.
IPTV: How it works on the iPhone
If you are using an iPhone or iPad, the free app I recommend you download to watch IPTV is GSE Smart IPTV, which can be downloaded from the iOS App Store. It supports different types of IPTV stream acquisition, including the classic M3U format.
The installation and activation methods are similar to those on Android.
By doing so, you will be able to access the IPTV list of TV channels and play them through the internal player. If you would like more details about this app or other apps that can be installed on your iPhone or iPad, I recommend reading my guide to the best apps for iOS IPTV.
IPTV Smart TV: How It Works
On Smart TVs, third-party applications can be installed to use IPTV content where possible. One of them is SS IPTV, which is available for free at LG and Samsung stores. To download it to your TV, go to the manufacturer’s store and use the search engine to find it. Then press the button to start installing the application and press the button at the end of the program to start the installation.
At this point, after launching the application, press the Accept button and then press the gear icon in the upper right corner of the main screen. When you reach the SS IPTV setup panel, in the left menu, select the content item and then click the Add button. In the corresponding text field, enter the URL of the M3U list and then press the Save button.
By doing so, the TV channel will be imported and can be accessed directly from the application’s home screen. In the latter, you will also find a list of pre-loaded IPTVs that can be used.
If you want to learn more about this topic, I suggest you check out my guide on how to install IPTV on your Smart TV.