How IPTV works

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel

What is IPTV

Before getting to the heart of the tutorial, let me explain what IPTV is all about. For IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) means a system that allows you to watch television channels using the protocol TCP / IP an Internet connection.

You might think it's the same system used by broadcasters to play broadcasts via their web portal, or by companies like Netflix o Amazon Prime Video to distribute on-demand audiovisual content. In reality, although the principle is similar, the examples I have given you use a different technology, called OTT (Over-the-top).



While for Web TV and on-demand platforms it is necessary to subscribe, or access the service through the software or the Web portal made available by the various broadcasters, for IPTV it is required, in most of the times, the use of lists in M3U or other supported formats. In some cases, software or applications with integrated channel lists are distributed, often from other countries, such as Asia or Europe.

Although IPTV technology is legal in principle, in some cases its use is not. In fact, IPTV is often used to watch paid or encrypted channels for free: this practice is prohibited by law and offenders are punished with very severe penalties. For this reason, I recommend that you use IPTV only to watch free-to-air TV channels. If you make a different use of IPTV that involves the violation of the law, I will not be held responsible in any way for this, mind you.


Now that you understand what IPTV is, let's get to the heart of the matter: in the next chapters, I will explain how to use this technology to watch free-to-air digital terrestrial or satellite TV channels on computers, smartphones, tablets and Smart TVs. The only thing you need is some software, which I'll tell you about shortly, and a fast internet connection (as IPTV uses a lot of bandwidth).


IPTV: how it works on PC

If you want to know how IPTV on PC works, this is the section of the guide that suits you best: in the next paragraphs, in fact, I will show you some software that allows you to access online TV channels from computers with Windows, macOS or Linux operating systems.

What (Windows / macOS / Linux)

Among the different software available on PC, the one I want to recommend is Kodi. This software, completely free and open source, allows you to transform your computer into a multimedia center and, using suitable add-ons, enable the viewing of IPTV.

Kodi has a wide compatibility with different platforms, such as smartphones, tablets and TV Boxes with Android, but now let's focus on its PC version, which is available for Windows, MacOS e Linux. To download the Kodi installation file, connect to its official website and click on the icon corresponding to the operating system in use on your computer.

When the download is complete, if you use Windows, double-click the file .exe obtained and then press on the buttons Yes, Next e I agree. At this point, select the components to add to the installation and click the buttons NextNextinstall and, finally, Finish. If you use Windows 10Instead, you can download the Kodi desktop application directly from the Microsoft Store by clicking the button Get.


If you have one Mac, to install Kodi, double-click the .dmg downloaded from the official website of the program and drag theKodi icon in the folder Applications. If you have any doubts and would like to deepen the installation procedure, you can consult my guide dedicated to the topic.


Now start Kodi and follow the directions I am about to give you. On the main program screen, click on theicon with an ingranaggio, in order to access the software settings and change the display language. Then press the button Interface settings and then choose the items Regional > Language> city to translate the program interface into in your languagen.

Now, go back to the main Kodi screen and click on the entry TV. In the message that is shown to you, click on the button Enter browser add-ons and click on the add-on PVR IPTV Single Client. Now, press the button Enable e poi quello Configure, to add an M3U list.

At this point, in the screen you see, reach the tab General and then press on the wording M3U Playlist URL, to type the URL of the M3U list. Alternatively, click the icon alongside to import a list from a file on your computer. Once this is done, press the button OK twice in a row: you will find the television channels in the section TV on the main screen.

If you want more information on how Kodi, I suggest you read some of my guides dedicated to this topic, such as the one dedicated to its operation or the one in which I give you some advice on its configuration.

Other software for IPTV on PC


Kodi is not the only software to watch IPTV on your computer: there are several that can be useful for this purpose. In the next few lines, I will therefore list some programs that can be used instead.


  • 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 functions, there is also that of reproducing the contents of IPTV lists in M3U format.
  • MyIPTV Player (Windows) - is a free application for Windows 10 available on the Microsoft Store. It allows, after the import of the M3U lists by the user, to be able to enjoy the vision of the IPTV.
  • Perfect Player (Windows / Linux) - is a free player which, among its features, allows you to play the TV channels present in an M3U list. It is a simple software 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 PC, I suggest you consult this guide of mine.

IPTV: how it works on Android

There are many apps for watching IPTV on Android: among these, I recommend you GSE SMART IPTV. It is a free application that allows you to import lists in M3U e JSON for the use of television channels through IPTV technology. It is supported by advertising banners, which can be removed by purchasing the version Premium of the app for 2,09 euros.

If you are interested in GSE SMART IPTV, go to its page on the Play Store and tap the buttons Installapri. After starting GSE SMART IPTV, you consent to the requests for access to the device functionality permissions and then tap on the words Agree e OK, in the boxes that are shown to you.

At this point, to add a list in M3U o JSON to the app, access the sections Remote playlists o Local playlists, which you find in the sidebar, by tapping on the icon ☰ located at the top left. Then press on + button and choose the file format you want to add by entering the URL or importing a file from the device memory.

In these sections, you will find the added lists: just tap on them, then select the group of channels and, finally, choose the channel to play, by means of the wording Play in the displayed pane.

If you want to know more about this application or if you want to know other apps that you can install on your smartphone or tablet with Android operating system, I suggest you read my guide dedicated to IPTV apps.

IPTV: how it works on iPhone

If you use a iPhone or iPad, the free app I recommend you download to watch IPTV is GoIPTV M3U, downloadable from the iOS App Store. It supports different types of IPTV stream acquisition, including the classic format M3U.

If you are interested in this app, reach the link I provided and press the button Get, then unlock the download and installation via Face ID, Touch ID or Apple ID password and, finally, press on apri.

On the main screen of GoIPTV M3U, then tap on the ☰ icon at the top left and select the way you want to import the IPTV list: you can choose between Link Playlist, to add the URL of the M3U list, or Local Playlist, to import a list via HTTP or FTP server protocol.

If you want to add an M3U list via URL, tap on the wording Link Playlist and then presses on + button. In the screen that you see, type the name of the playlist and the reference URL. Then press the button Done to complete the process of importing all TV channels.

By doing so, you will be able to access the TV channels of the IPTV list and play them through the internal player. If you want to have more details about this app or about other apps that you can install on your iPhone or iPad, I suggest you read my guide on the best IPTV apps.

IPTV Smart TV: how it works

on Smart TV it is possible to install, where possible, third-party applications for the use of IPTV contents. One of these is SS IPTV, available for free on the stores LG e Samsung. 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 theinstallation application and, at the end of the procedure, that for start it.

At this point, after starting the application, press the button Accept and, in the main screen, press onicona dell'ingranaggio that you find positioned at the top right. Reached the settings panel of SS IPTV, in the left side menu, select the item Content and then press the button Add. In the appropriate text field, enter the URL of the M3U list and press the button Save.

By doing so, the TV channels will be imported and will be accessible directly from the main screen of the app. In the latter, you will also find the preloaded IPTV lists, ready to use.

If you want to learn more about this topic, I suggest you consult my guide on how to install IPTV on Smart TV.

How IPTV works

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