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Picture-in-picture (PiP) is a feature that can be found in television receivers, personal computers and smartphones, consisting of a video stream playing within an inset window, freeing the rest of the screen for other tasks.

For televisions, picture-in-picture requires two independent tuners or signal sources to supply the large and the small picture. Two-tuner PiP TVs have a second tuner built in, but a single-tuner PiP TV requires an external signal source, which may be an external tuner, videocassette recorder, DVD player, or a cable box. Picture-in-picture is often used to watch one program while waiting for another to start, or advertisements to finish.


Adding a picture into an existing picture was done long before affordable PiP was available on consumer products. The first PiP was seen on the televised coverage of the 1976 Summer Olympics where a Quantel digital framestore device was used to insert a close-up picture of the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony. In 1980, NEC introduced its "Popvision" television (CV-20T74P) [1] in Japan with a rudimentary picture-aside-picture feature: a separate 6" (15 cm) CRT and tuner complemented the set's main 20" (50 cm) screen. Its price was ¥298,000 MSRP, equal to about $1,200 (at $1 = ¥250 [2]), and $1,200 in 1980 had the approximate buying power of $3,000 in 2007 [3].

An early consumer implementation of picture-in-picture was the Multivision set-top box; it was not a commercial success. Later, PiP became available as a feature of advanced television receivers.

The first widespread consumer implementation of picture-in-picture was produced by Philips in 1983 in their high-end television sets. A separate video or RF input was available on the back of the set and displayed in black and white in one of the four corners of the screen. Televisions at the time were still analog format, and earlier versions of the PiP implemented in analog were too costly. New digital technology allowed the second video signal to be digitized and saved in a digital memory chip, then replayed in a mini version. While the new technology was not good enough for color or full-screen viewing, it did provide a low-cost PiP feature.

The Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD specifications included picture in picture, allowing viewers to see content such as the director's commenty on a film they are watching. All the Blu-ray Disc titles in 2006 and 2007 that had a PiP track used two separate HD encodings, with one of the HD encodings including a hard-coded PiP track. Starting in 2008 Blu-ray Disc titles started being released that use one HD and one SD video track which can be combined with a Bonus View or BD-Live player. This method uses less disc space, allowing for PiP to be more easily added to a title. Several studios have released Bonus View PiP Blu-ray Disc titles in 2008 such as Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Resident Evil: Extinction, V for Vendetta, and War.[1][2][3][4]

Some streaming video websites may minimize a video stream similarly when browsing outside the playback page. Some web browsers (including Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) provide APIs or similar functions that allow a playing video to be opened in a pop-up overlay atop other applications.[5][6] The mobile operating systems Android (as of Android 8.0)[7] and iOS (as of iOS 14)[8] similarly provide native APIs for picture-in-picture overlays.

In 2011, after DirecTV released the HR34 Home Media Center HD DVR, Picture in Picture was introduced to all HD DVR models onwards, The feature has five options: Upper Left, Upper Right, Lower Right, Lower Left, and Side-by-Side.[9][10]


  1. ^ Peter M. Bracke (April 18, 2008). "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem". High-Def Digest. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  2. ^ Joshua Zyber (January 7, 2008). "Resident Evil: Extinction". High-Def Digest. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  3. ^ Peter M. Bracke (May 14, 2008). "V for Vendetta". High-Def Digest. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  4. ^ Kenneth S. Brown (January 18, 2008). "War". High-Def Digest. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  5. ^ "Firefox 63 arrives with Enhanced Tracking Protection, search shortcuts, and Picture-in-Picture on Android". VentureBeat. October 23, 2018. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  6. ^ Porter, Jon (October 19, 2018). "Chrome 70 brings picture-in-picture support to Windows and Mac". The Verge. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  7. ^ Garun, Natt (March 21, 2017). "Android O brings picture-in-picture support so you can watch YouTube while hailing a Lyft". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  8. ^ "iOS 14: How to do Picture in Picture video multitasking on iPhone". 9to5Mac. September 17, 2020. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  9. ^ Sweet, Stuart (February 4, 2018). "TIP: Watch two programs at the same time with DIRECTV". The Solid Signal Blog. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  10. ^ HR34-700 PIP, retrieved January 5, 2020