I stand educated and corrected.
If you want to hear more, here are the major categories and subsets:
As discussed above, multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) of various types and technologies. Each deliver “Linear TV”, a collection of channels that constantly offer live content. Of course they may be augmented by a DVR, or as discussed below, free or pay-per-view video on demand. MVPDs might be over coax cable, or “digital broadcast satellite” (DBS, this refers to DISH and DirecTV). MVPDs started as “community antenna” systems, or CATV. Originally delivering broadcast channels (ABC, NBC etc) to communities where they could not be directly received from rooftop antennas, CATV evolved by include networks not available on broadcast such as CNN and TNT. These systems have of course evolved from analog to digitized signals, added MPEG compression to squeeze in more channels, etc. But all share the characteristic of broadcast: all of the channels all of the time being delivered over the wire (or via the satellite, in the case of DBS). Your set-top-box or tuner simply decides the channel you select - or can be used to limit which channels you can decode based upon subscription level.
IPTV or “internet protocol TV” allowed for the adaptation of this concept to a modern IP network. Again, many concepts of broadcast, with multicast used in the core of the network, but set-top-boxes joining each multicast stream as you select channels. This saves bandwidth on the consumer last-mile, and allows for IPTV over narrower dedicated paths such as DSL. UverseTV is probably the best known IPTV deployment here in this area, but Verizon FIOS also uses IPTV over fiber.
Virtual MVPDs brought this business model to an “over the top” (OTT) internet connection, separating it from the proprietary network. While IPTV requires a managed network end to end (for multicast to work reliably and because content owners required security), V-MVPDs deliver using unicast IP, OTT of any internet connection. SlingTV and Sony Vue were early examples in this sector, while today services like Philo, YouTubeTV and Hulu with Live TV all fit into this category.
But don’t mix up YouTubeTV with YouTube. The latter is mostly user-generated content on demand, while YouTubeTV is television channels - ABC, CNN, ESPN etc.
And don’t mix up Hulu with Hulu with Live TV. The former is an SVOD service (more on that below), while it the with live TV service is television channels.
And SVOD. Subscription Video On Demand. The best example is Netflix, but this category also includes Prime Video, HBOMax, Hulu, Disney+, CBS All Access, AppleTV etc, etc, etc. SO many of these. SVOD gets you a library of content, which you select and watch on demand.
And FINALLY, there is PPV-VOD. Pay per view video on demand is the capability to rent or purchase content on an ala carte basis. So this is the rental or purchase of a video. When you buy a season of House on Amazon Video or rent a movie on Vudu, this is pay per view video on demand. Making things a little more complicated, MVPDs and SVOD services also offer PPV: Disney+ offering Mulan or Reya as $20 add-one is PPV VOD. And Comcast renting you a movie is PPV VOD.
Add to this universe the equipment side and it gets even more confusing, but whether it’s a smart TV or a Roku or a FireTV, each of these is just a way to run the apps that each of the VMVPDs and S/VOD services described above use to display their content.
This last category has become a new battleground: Roku for example has recognized that because they have sold more sticks and boxes than anyone else, they can charge the HBOMax’s of the world a fee to get their app in front of consumers. So in a very full-circle way, “set-top” (where these sort of things used to sit in the old days) box makers have become a sort of distribution channel if it’s own, a gatekeeper that can charge a fee, just like an App Store or a Cable company.
Very interesting space. A bit confusing for consumers today, but once they recognize that entertainment is just a set of apps linked to services that they can add or cancel at will, it’s a far more flexible setup than a two year contract with a Cable company.