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How to Start Your Own IPTV Service

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IPTV services are available just about everywhere and they can prove to be a lucrative business if set up correctly. In 2019 the IPTV market was valued at just shy of $40 billion and is expected to grow by 17% between now and 2026 (that's an additional $6.8 billion). If you want to start an IPTV business, then you must have a  comprehensive inventory of assets that you will require. This article will break down everything that you need to know.

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In the early 2000s, something happened in technology that literally changed the world forever, as well as the way most of us now watch television. The way television was transmitted to our homes became very different, advances in media distribution technology and broadband internet saw the birth of 'digital TV' technology.

This brought about a change in consumer behavior and suddenly everyone had access to high-speed internet. Companies started looking for innovative ways to stream content online which led the way for HDTV, online video platforms, video-on-demand, Web TV, and streaming on TVs and mobile phones. Today video monetization via streaming has become one of the most profitable businesses on the internet, which has made it an exceedingly competitive market.

IPTV Glossary

Like with any new endeavor, there is an array of terms and lingo that you should become familiar with. As you start your journey, you will come across a variety of different options and configurations and you will need to know how to proceed with making your decisions. Here are some of the basics terms you need to know.

Definitions

IPTV - Internet Protocol Television is the delivery service for streamed content over a managed network such as a wide area network (WAN), a private local area network (LAN), or a privately managed service provider network. These are all based on IP networks (internet protocol) and offer a higher quality of service. Unlike cable or satellite services that offer television transmitted in real-time, IPTV streaming services have much of their content stored on servers in data centers, while also offering live TV.

CDN - Content Delivery Network. It is a reasonable assumption that this is your most important component, next to the content source you are choosing. A CDN starts with a network of computer servers, often located in various parts of the world, and ends with a set-top box, Smart TV or connected display. 

Once one of your users logs on and makes a request, let's say he is in the USA - and this is why it is important - you do not want that subscriber to have a poor experience, therefore if he waits overly long for the video to buffer and load, you just might lose the customer. So when he logs on from the USA, his device (which is also part of the CDN) sends a message to the original server hosting the video content, which let's say is in India. With all of the connections the request must make to get to India, there is a high likelihood that the request could slow down transmission and cause buffering and latency concerns for your customers.

Having a reliable CDN will allow the original server to immediately find another server within the same network that is closest to the location of the user, likely in the USA, and will start caching the media content to that server. This reduces the load on the original server and allows your subscriber to have an uninterrupted viewing experience. This is what happens every time someone watches video content on Hulu or Disney Plus.

OTT - Over The Top Streaming is similar to IPTV. OTT delivers content over the same open network that you use to check emails, go on social media and surf the web. The network creates a direct connection with your device via their internet connection. Video-on-demand services like HBO Max, Peacock and YouTube are examples of OTT services,

STB - The Set-Top-Box is an information appliance that was developed to tune in and decode the data that was transmitted from the cable companies and turned their signal into content to be displayed on your television. IP set-top boxes perform the same function, decoding data into a format that your display can understand. A common STB would be the wildly popular Android box.

VOD - Video On Demand is a media distribution system that allows users to access videos on their device without the need for a set top box. Streaming services like Netflix, Youtube and Disney Plus are examples of VOD.

Need a briefing on What is IPTV? Read this article. 

What You Need to Start an IPTV Business

There are two major components required when you launch an IPTV service.

First are technical components that you will require such as servers, billing software, middleware and more. You also have a variety of what we will call basic components that you will require, they include such items as your target audience, market research, and of course, streaming content. This article will focus largely on the former.

 CDN

As we have already outlined, a Content Delivery Network is mostly made up of servers and preferably located in various geographies around the world where you plan to market your services. Choosing a hosting company with a reputation for quality and support will ensure the least amount of headaches down the road.

Content sources make up part of your CDN and part of the allure of the service is the content available from around the globe. This includes movies, TV shows and live TV channels from North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. 

Dedicated Servers

To become an  IPTV service provider, one of your more important decisions is who to host your content with. Often hosting solutions companies are at the forefront of emerging technology, so it is vital that you choose an experienced, reliable company. You will also want to ensure that your provider can grow with your needs, often that starts with a reputation for network reliability, plenty of storage options, superior customer service, and an internet connection of at least 10 Gbps of unmetered service.

With a single server, your traffic will put a substantial workload on the server. A partner that has data centers around the world, or at least within geographic proximity to the area you plan to service, would serve your own IPTV business well.

More information on our 10 Gbps Servers.

Network Carriers

Choosing a network carrier for your dedicated server is an important decision where you need to fully understand your options. There is a large disparity between premium and budget carriers, with major differences including global reach, reliability, and level of service. You will also hear terms like Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, but what exactly does that mean? 

Visit our blog on The Difference Between Premium and Budget Network Carriers

Middleware System

A middleware system in the terms of IPTV refers to one of the most important software components of your IPTV business. It is a media technology that allows the exchange of data between the streaming devices (usually a set-top box, smart TV or IPTV app) and the IPTV service. It ensures that all of the software systems are communicating together efficiently.

Your middleware system will also act as your user interface and your IPTV panel dashboard, where you determine which subscribers you supply television services to. It is also where you set up and input credentials, change settings and permissions and where you administer your IPTV reseller program. It will often come with its own billing panel.

Many middleware providers will now white-label your subscriber interface, offering in-built marketing. Many also will develop your app and website. 

Here is a partial list of such IPTV service providers:

Media Player

A critical element of your streaming service is your media player, it enables  your subscribers to actually watch TV using your service. With help from your middleware system, it receives the signal from your internet service, decodes it and then plays the television programming your subscriber requested.  Windows Media Player and Apple’s QuickTime are just two examples that you are likely familiar with.

Here is a list of some of the more popular media players available:

Billing System

You want to ensure that you are getting the most out of your customers. While many middleware packages come with a billing panel, picking the right billing system for your own IPTV business can mean the difference between being profitable and not. First, you want to ensure your billing system can speak to your middleware dashboard and have them in sync. You also want to offer options, not unlike Netflix. Here are some features that you want to look out for:

  • Allows for billing per streaming device
  • Automatic subscription renewal
  • Multi-language options
  • Multi-currency options
  • An IPTV reseller program
  • Easy to set up

Some of the more popular billing systems include WHMCS, Open Billing, ZapX and Septlex.

Set-Top Box

To manage your service, you will require your own set-top box. It is part of your content delivery system and plugs into your television. This allows the data to be decoded and displayed on your television.

Smart TV Apps

The proliferation of IPTV has come about thanks in large part to the advent of Smart TVs. In the early 2000s, plasma and LCD televisions had brought about a revolution in the dusty old television display business.  The next logical step was the integration of data processing into these units and once that technology was perfected, Smart TV adoption rates scaled globally. Now you can watch videos and live TV on any device from televisions to mobile phones to PC monitors.

Today’s Smart TV’s come with television programming from an assortment of suppliers built into its functionality.  Many of your IPTV suppliers may offer to white-label their software for you, and create smart tv and mobile apps. The STB interfaces and the custom apps will all be branded uniformly.

The IPTV market is growing and building out a reliable brand for your subscribers by developing applications that are compatible with Smart TVs and other devices will give you an advantage over your competitors and bring in more customers.  

Tablet and Mobile Phone Applications

While home entertainment is where much of a user's video content is consumed, as an IPT provider you must ensure that your video content is widely available across all devices. More people are consuming content on mobile phone displays and tablets than ever.

Take advantage of the customization that one of your service providers will offer and have your custom app available both for Android and iOS, while ensuring that it is downloadable at Play Store and App Store. You must adhere to their respective guidelines and there may be some standard preconditions. However, by following their guidelines, your IPTV subscriptions will likely increase and your Play score will as well.

Advanced Analytics

If you don't use a powerful analytics system, you might as well be throwing money against the wall. There are several IPTV services that now provide analytics software for your IPTV business, and some middleware providers will include an analytics feature in your IPTV panel.

It will provide insights into your customer's behavior in real-time and across geographies. Features usually include the ability to know what and when they watch, on which devices, on which operating systems, and allows for the creation of custom and automated reports.

Analytics will help you figure out how you will monetize and grow your revenue by finding patterns and behaviors from your subscriber base.

IPTV analytics providers include Edgeware, Cast TV, and Setplex.

In-Built Marketing Solutions

You need to have a model for finding new subscribers for your IPTV business. With a recent market analysis expecting the IPTV business to grow by billions into the next five years, like with any other business, you must differentiate yourself and find a competitive edge.

You are about to build an IPTV platform that can potentially reach thousands, if not millions of users. Each of those users has a visual display that you can control, this allows you a significant advantage above most advertisers.

By creating a custom interface, you can promote movies and series, offer free trials and other promotions required to build your email database, drive web traffic where you can use lead magnets, lead capture forms, and also retarget prospects. Combining this with an effective analytics program will help you develop your strategy, resulting in more customers.

Having this in-built marketing will go a long way to generate maximum revenue and build brand loyalty.

IPTV Reseller Program

When you start your own IPTV business, you need to give serious consideration to developing an IPTV reseller program. These are the people who go out and sell your services, and the set-top boxes that most users require. Many of them will even offer installation and support services to their subscriber base.

Your middleware program will have an IPTV panel specifically for your reseller program. It works as a dashboard and offers the tools required to organize your IPTV portals and customers. It allows for activating and deactivating customers, creating trial accounts, and sets which viewing packages the user subscribes to.

Having an army of resellers doing their own advertising, and bringing in their own subscribers will provide you with a large portion of your revenue on a passive income level.

Content Sources

We are in an age where video content is in high abundance and there is an endless supply of media available for licensing. By searching online for a digital video distribution partner will lead you to many legitimate sources. Be sure that all of your content is appropriately licensed for your specific requirements from the content owner.

Support and Launch

You will be relying heavily on a collection of IPTV services for your business and we recommend when developing your business plan that you choose suppliers that have demonstrated exceptional customer service. They will assist you in answering your questions and ensure that your shiny, new IPTV platform operates efficiently.

Many of these suppliers offer online tutorials and videos so you can obtain the training necessary to use the software.

Now you are ready to create your own IPTV network. ServerMania has a team of highly skilled representatives that are here to help you make your decisions and guide you through the sometimes complex technologies that come when you start an IPTV business.

Are you ready to get started?  ServerMania has you covered with every possible configuration you can imagine for your IPTV streaming service and is backed with customer service, support, competitive prices, and partnerships with TOP TIER network carriers. Hop on over to our 10 GBPS unmetered service page to review your options.

Please feel free to reach out and book your free consultation. Be sure to come back to ServerMania for the latest technologies tips and insights.

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Rob Rapiti

Rob Rapiti

Rob is the Content Marketing Manager at Servermania. His goal is to help break down the often complex and technical aspects of IT into relatable, easy-to-understand information.