Difference between OTT and IPTV

Key Difference: OTT, short for Over the Top, provides content over the internet instead of cable or satellite. IPTV, short for Internet Protocol Television transmits content over the internet using a dedicated and managed network such as a set-up box that needs a broadband connection.

Over the Top (OTT)Our relationship with television sets have changed drastically in the last few years. We’ve gone from having large TV sets to now watching content on mobiles and tablets. The introduction of services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have resulted in a huge change in how we now consume content. The major change in the world of television will definitely have to be – internet.  Internet made it easier for not only the service providers to deliver the content, but also for the viewers to watch it without requiring extensive equipment.

Many people may have heard their providers often talk about the terms, OTT and IPTV, but if you don’t have extensive knowledge of how content is delivered to your television, it might leave you confused. Let’s take a closer look at what these two terms mean and why do they matter.

Both the terms refer to the way content is delivered to the viewers. OTT, short for Over the Top, provides content over the internet instead of cable or satellite. This refers to any content that is transmitted over the internet but these days it is often combined with Video on Demand, which allows users to watch content at any time that they want. However, pure OTT content includes live-streaming or live-sports streaming over the internet, etc.

The other popular method of content delivery system is IPTV, which is short for Internet Protocol Television. This type of delivery system transmits content over the internet using a dedicated and managed network such as a set-up box that needs a broadband connection for streaming. This method is commonly used for providing premium channels such as sports or premium content.

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)The main difference between the two is the way the content is delivered, the cost, set-up and transmission quality. While OTT includes any content delivered over internet, in IPTV the content must be transmitted through a dedicated broadband connection to a set-up box. OTT is generally cheaper compared to IPTV and also requires zero installation. The biggest difference is the transmission quality as OTT transmission depends your internet quality, so a low bandwidth will most likely result in a low-quality viewing, while in IPTV there is a dedicated broadband connection for the transmission.

These are two of the different ways content is delivered to you.

Comparison between Over The Top (OTT) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV):


Over The Top (OTT)

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)


Any type of content that is provided over the internet is referred to as an OTT service

Content is provided over the internet to a set-up-box using a dedicated, managed network or infrastructure, which can then be streamed on the TV


Transmits over the internet instead of satellite or cable

Transmits over the internet to a dedicated set-up-box


Doesn’t allow you to play the content whenever you want such as live-streaming sports

Plays like regular TV, but it is streamed over the internet rather than satellite or cable


Uses no dedicated network, infrastructure is made available provided  by an operator

Delivered via an ISP’s own infrastructure which can resemble TV but differs because of lack of satellite or cable

Content Type

Not premium

Mostly premium

Primary Requirement

Can be viewed on any device data or Wi-Fi and does not require a dedicated broadband based connectivity

Requires a device to be connected to a dedicated broadband based connection


  • Live-streaming
  • Online live-sports
  • Skype
  • U-Verse (AT&T)
  • Prism TV
  • Verizon FiOS


  • Low cost
  • Minimal Installation
  • Varied Programming
  • High-quality video with fewer interruptions
  • View-on-demand and get shows date of release
  • No installation, just the set-up-box


  • Streaming depends on internet quality
  • No access to cable only shows
  • Some ISPs enforce a data cap on data bandwidth
  • Sold as subscription-based packages
  • Internet speed can affect the quality of streaming
Reference: Wikipedia, Broadband Now, Muvi, Media Entertainment Info,
MwareIPTV, SDMC Tech, BR Softech
Image Courtesy: intoday.in, amazon.com

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