IPTV stands for internet protocol television. If you’re unfamiliar, you can see our rundown of what it is (here). It has a lot of features that cable doesn’t, but what is the difference, and what are the advantages and disadvantages, of the two?
Currently, cable is more widely available in Canada. Aside from places that require a satellite dish, cable is nearly everywhere. But IPTV is becoming more and more available. Obviously you’ll have to check on your specific location, but a good rule of thumb is if good, high-speed internet plans are available where you are, IPTV is too.
Winner: Cable. For now.
Cable gets high quality, HD images without buffering. Because your IPTV uses the internet to stream video, you may suffer degraded video during peak hours if you have a substandard internet connection.
Winner: Depends. Cable is the better choice if you have a poor internet plan, but with the right amount of bandwidth, IPTV may be the better choice. Of course, the best choice is to get the best possible internet plan.
With cable, you’re married to a TV schedule, unless you get a PVR. With IPTV, you can pick and choose when you want to watch particular programs for most channels. And most IPTV packages come with a PRV anyway, just so your live TV experience can be as convenient as your streaming. That’s right. We say when we watch the news, Ian Hanomansing.
With cable, your show is on when it’s on. With IPTV, you get a bunch of tools that let you interact with your show. Watching John Wick and want to know what else Keanu Reeves is in? You don’t have to look at your phone to see the rest of his high-brow oeuvre like My Own Private Idaho, Feeling Minnesota, and Point Break . . . where he plays Johnny Utah. What is it with that guy and western states?
Most channels are broadcasting in HD (that is, 1080p). Most don’t broadcast in Ultra HD (that is, 4K). By contrast, streaming services offer 4K for lots of their content. If you want that beautiful, Ultra HD content, you’ll have to shell out for a good internet plan.
Your cable is only available on your TV. By contrast, IPTV is also available on your computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Don’t want watch your kid’s latest high school drama about competing dance troupes? Make ‘em watch from their tablet in their bedroom while you watch reruns of Three’s Company in the living room. See? Progress!
Chances are, your TV package provider also provides internet, VoIP, phone service, or some combination thereof. If you want a deal, you get a bunch of services bundled. For a long time, the TV package you get with a bundle was by default cable, but lately more and more providers are switching over to IPTV. So if the services you get bundled is a major deciding factor for you, you may be switching over to IPTV in due course.
Winner: Draw—but IPTV is becoming more and more prevalent.
Cable bundles are pretty big, and as a result, typically cost more than IPTV bundles, which let you pick what channels you like and leave what you don’t. See you later, Game Show Network. You should’ve never stopped airing Beat the Geeks.
Winner: Depends. IPTV is generally more affordable. But, as always, you want to shop around for a competitive TV provider.
The Big Takeaway
When it comes to choosing your TV package, the most important thing is to get a competitive package from a less expensive alternative provider. Cable still has some advantages as a way of getting TV, but it’s clear that IPTV comes with lots of benefits and features.