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Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT streaming services: Which One Is Better?

Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT Streaming Services
Yashwant Shakyawal

With the advancement in TV services, there are now many content providers such as Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT streaming is available that offer lots of content for viewers to watch. Therefore, users need to understand the difference between Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT streaming. However, understanding the difference between these platforms can be a tricky part to do. Also, content providers race to offer better-bundled services that blur the line between the broadcast media and the Internet.

This article aims to walk you through the basics of Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT streaming services, explaining both how they work and their advantages & disadvantages to help you decide which is best for you. So, without any further delay, let’s start our journey to find out which one is the better – Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT streaming service.

Overview Of Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT Streaming Platforms

1. Cable TV

Cable TV system uses radio frequency (RF) signals to deliver television programming to consumers. These RF signals are transmitted through coaxial cables or light pulses through fiber-optic cables. In the early 20s, Analog television was the standard cable system. But due to advancements in technologies, Analog cable systems have now been upgraded to digital cable systems.

Furthermore, many modern cable systems have become hybrid fiber-coaxial networks, basically the same as the network that delivers broadband cable Internet. Also, cable distribution lines must be available to use cable TV services in that location via underground utility lines or the local utility poles. These coaxial cables carry the signal to the consumer building via a service drop, underground or overhead cable.

Advantages of using cable TV

  • Lower price.
  • Hundreds of cable channels are available.
  • The Cable TV system uses a dedicated line for high-quality video transmission with no buffering.
  • Nowadays, the Cable TV system is bundled with broadband cable Internet, making it more Cost-efficient.

Disadvantages of using cable TV

  • Cable distribution lines and service providers are needed to use cable TV services.
  • High cost for HD channels.
  • No pause-play feature for live channels and need a separate device to record programs.

2. Satellite TV

The satellite TV system uses a communications satellite orbiting the Earth to deliver TV programs directly to the viewers’ location. The signals from the satellite are received through a parabolic antenna, generally referred to as a satellite dish, placed outdoor at the receiver end. Furthermore, the satellite receiver decodes the selected TV program for viewing on a TV set. The receiver at the viewer end is either a built-in television tuner or an external set-top box.

Satellite TV delivers a wide range of channels and services and can easily be available in any remote Geographical area. Currently, there are two main types of satellite TV services available-

  1. Direct to home (DTHTV) or Direct broadcast satellite (DSBTV)
  2. Television receive-only (TVRO)

Both services work by picking up radio signals broadcast from the satellites.

DTH can either refer to the actual television service or the communications satellites that deliver the service. These days, most satellite TV customers get their programming via a DBS provider.

On the other hand, the term TVRO emerged during the early days of satellite TV reception to distinguish it from commercial satellite TV uplink and downlink functions. It was the primary method of satellite TV transmissions before the DBS satellites system in the early 1990s. At that time, Satellite TV channels were intended to be used by cable TV networks rather than home viewers.

Advantages of using Satellite TV

  • Lower price as some of the network providers allows you to create your custom channel package.
  • Hundreds of SD and HD satellite channels are available.
  • High-quality video transmission with no buffering.

Disadvantages of using Satellite TV

  • Sometimes heavy clouds and storms affect single transmission.
  • Like cable TV, it also does not have a pause-play feature for live channels and needs a separate device to record programs.


IPTV stands for Internet Protocol television that delivers TV content over IP networks. It is different from traditional terrestrial, satellite, and cable TV formats delivery. Furthermore, IPTV companies let users continuously stream the source media. Because of this, a consumer media player can start playing the content almost instantly, and it is known as streaming media.

IPTV is not limited to TV streamed from the Internet only. It is extensively deployed in subscriber-based TV networks with lightning-fast access channels into consumer premises through set-top boxes. In addition to this, IPTV utilizes a private CDN to reach a higher quality of service. Unlike streaming content on a browser, IPTV content initially goes from the router to a set-top box to view on TV.

Advantages of using IPTV

  • High-quality video streaming via a privately managed CDN
  • View-on-demand is available
  • Lots of online content is available to watch

Disadvantages of using IPTV

  • The overall price is higher than cable TV.
  • Streaming may get affected during peak hours because of slow internet connectivity.

4. OTT Streaming

An OTT platform is an over-the-top media service offered directly to viewers through the Internet. OTT solutions differ from IPTV and broadcast in that the content comes from a third-party provider over the general public Internet. The term OTT is most synonymous with SVoD (subscription-based video-on-demand ) services. These services offer access to films and TV content, including existing series from other producers and original content produced specifically for this platform.

OTT also contains a wave of “skinny” TV services that offer access to live streams of linear metier channels. However, it is streamed over the public Internet rather than a private network via set-top boxes.

Advantages of using OTT streaming

  • Lots of free content is available for watching.
  • You get access to platform-specific content only available on platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime video, etc., if subscribed to it.
  • Wide range of content providers offer original programming
  • High-quality content video quality up to 4k is available.

Disadvantages of using OTT streaming

  • The quality of the video depends on Internet speed, with buffering and other wait times normal for slow connections.
  • Some cable TV shows and movies are not available on OTT platforms.
  • Depending on your subscription to OTT platforms, it may cost higher than other platforms.


There is no doubt that each platform has its own features, peaks, and valleys. As OTT streaming services continue to consume a larger share of the TV market due to their availability. Therefore, cable companies are sure to continue introducing captivating new IPTV alternatives. On the other hand, cable TV still offers an appealing option to heavy TV users due to its cost-efficiency. Hence both have their ups and downs. So, Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT streaming: which one is better for you? You can tell us in the comment section below which platform you prefer and why. Also, if you have any further queries regarding the topic, please let me know as well.

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