IPTV vs. OTT: Which One Do You Need?

Last Updated: September 15, 2022By

Person holding black remote

Satellite and fiber optic cable TVs are progressively becoming obsolete. In the internet age, we no longer have to view content in the “tunnel” based model of these content viewing services. We get to choose what we want to watch.

Also, we get to choose when we want to watch it. We no longer have to adjust our schedules to catch our favorite shows, we can watch them whenever we get the time to.

This is enabled by the many internet-based streaming models available today. In today’s discussion, we’re interested in understanding and comparing two of these techniques, IPTV and OTT.

IPTVs Explained

IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is an alternative technique for broadcasting television programs. Except with IPTV, this is done entirely through the internet rather than a cable or a satellite.

IPTV delivers video material through your Wi-Fi connection directly, which may appear confusing considering OTT also does something similar. But the two video streaming techniques are different in one key aspect.

IPTV is a service that uses the Internet Protocol or the Transmission Control Protocol to provide viewers with television shows and other media.

IPTV services are often supplied by service providers over dedicated networks (i.e., DSL (or Digital Subscriber Line Connection)), which ensure a higher degree of surveillance over video traffic and adequate service quality.

IPTV, like OTT, requires no use of conventional cable or satellite devices to deliver media content. Still, it is a more isolated medium of data transfer, which is why it requires set-top boxes linked to a Wi-Fi router to function.

Moreover, IPTV content distribution has benefits that are similar to those of OTT platforms. Examples include enabling consumers to subscribe to VOD (or video on demand) material and view live broadcasts.

It also means that customers may continue to watch their favorite programs while reserving the option to view live events, just as they would on conventional television.

Another way IPTV differs from OTT is in terms of the set-up process. IPTVs are way more costly, time-consuming, and complex to set up than OTT services.

Additionally, IPTV requires users to purchase many additional accessories because the service is modeled to be a controlled network that securely delivers content over the internet.

Pros and Cons Of IPTV

The table below provides a summary of the pros and cons of IPTV:


  • High-quality video content
  • Fewer interruptions compared to other options
  • You get the option to view on-demand content and watch shows exactly when they’re released


  • You can only buy subscription-based packages
  • It would help if you had a good internet connection at all times to use this service. If you have poor or no Wi-Fi, you won’t be able to watch your favorite shows

OTT Explained

Close up of person holding black remote

IPTVs and OTTs are thought to be pretty similar. This isn’t true at all, though. In fact, both services are often used in different contexts entirely.

So, what Is an OTT service? OTT stands for “Over the top,” referring to how content is sent to users directly through an internet connection. With OTT, you don’t need a satellite or cable connection subscription. Everything you want to watch will be made available through the internet.

Plus, users aren’t limited to watching content on TV screens; they can watch anything they want with any smart device they want, including smart TVs, smartphones, firesticks, laptops, and even gaming consoles. All viewers need to do is choose a video service provider and install their app on their preferred device.

Viewers get annual or monthly subscription offers for this service and can get access to videos on demand as well. OTT business models generate revenues mainly through ads that viewers will timely have to see.

Lastly, there’s some free content available for viewers as well, but the selection is usually limited.

Pros and Cons of OTT


  • Comparatively cheaper
  • Different program options
  • Easy to install


  • You need a Wi-Fi connection to stream content. If you have no or poor Wi-Fi, you won’t be able to watch anything
  • You don’t get access to cable-only programs or shows


Silver remote tv on wooden desk

It is time to finally pit these two content streaming services against each other and compare them on multiple user fronts. Even though their distribution models are similar, publishers and marketers should be aware of the distinctions between OTT and IPTV.

IPTV archives material on dedicated servers, allowing customers to see programs whenever they want. The content chosen by the viewer is then converted to the appropriate digital format and transmitted to their playing device through the internet protocol.

Before the customers get these files, they are compressed and optimized for streaming. For this, the consumer’s television has to be able to interpret the signals sent over the IP. However, remember that not every TV can operate an IPTV service immediately. In most cases, an additional, dedicated set-up box will be required to complete the system.

OTT services are much simpler than this. All you’ll need is a good internet connection and an internet-compatible smart device to watch OTT content. Most smart TV models come with pre-installed OTT applications, although users may install their own if they wish. Most current laptop computers, mobile devices, and even video game consoles are compatible with OTT applications, so you can view content on them.

Pricing and Plans

Over-the-top (OTT) content is usually non-premium. So, for those of you looking for a budget-friendly way of viewing content, this is the right option for you. Although do note that some of the content available here is premium, so you’ll need to pay extra to access it.

IPTV services have a subscription-based on-demand video model. This means you’ll have to get one of their monthly or annual subscriptions to view the library’s content. You do get free access to some content, but it is usually very limited. Those who don’t mind paying a bit extra for more viewing options should go for IPTVs.

Types of Networks

OTT distributes content through the public internet. On the flip side, IPTV delivers your content through your LAN (or local area network) or WAN (or Wide area network).

In terms of user experience, IPTV’s delivery is better since it doesn’t load too much on the internet bandwidth. On the other hand, OTT services put a lot of load on your Wi-Fi. You have to either have a really good connection, or you won’t be able to watch content through them.


OTT services take the lead by a landslide on this front. To watch content via OTT, viewers only need an OTT-providing app on their smart devices, i.e., phone or laptop, and a solid internet connection. The location doesn’t matter, and they don’t have to get any new accessories to access their content.

On the other hand, IPTV is much more restricted on this front. It will only work within your house and need a dedicated set-up box to work like a closed network.

Content Quality

The closed ecosystem of IPTVs and their premium pricing means that the content available on IPTVs is sometimes better than that available on OTT. Additionally, OTT loses points in terms of user experience because streaming OTT content can get really slow (since it runs through the internet publicly).


Since OTT services don’t restrict you to a closed network at one location, they take the win in terms of reach. Unlike IPTV, you can access OTT services anywhere with a smart device, an internet connection, and an OTT app.

Summary Table

Over the Top (OTT) Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)
Definition Any content delivered to you through the internet. The content is sent through the internet protocol to a set-up box. This content is then streamed on TV.
Transmission technique Through the internet, no cables or satellites are required. Through the internet to a set-up-box- no cables or satellites required.
Video Playback You can’t view content whenever you want. i.e., sports live stream. You can play content as you would on a regular TV. The difference is that it will be streamed over the internet.
Also, you have some liberty in choosing what you want to watch and when you want to watch it.
Type of content Not premium Premium (in most cases)
Required accessories Any smart device, i.e., a laptop or a smartphone. You will also need a stable Wi-Fi connection Requires an additional device that connects to a broadband connection.
Delivery Operator-provided infrastructure. Dedicated networks are not required. Content is delivered through an ISP-based infrastructure. It resembles the system of traditional television, with the exception that it doesn’t use cables or satellites.
Examples •Live stream options
•Prism TV
•Amazon Firestick

Which One Should I Choose?

This depends on your budget and requirements. If you’re looking for a media streaming option that you can access anywhere and is budget-friendly, then OTT services might be the right pick for you.

However, if you’re willing to pay a few extra bucks, gain access to premium content, and you don’t mind being limited to your house while accessing this content, IPTVs are the right option.