Before digital technology came to existence, television programs were transmitted in an analog video format or signal. The standardization of video signal was important for the compatibility across VHS tapes, VCRs devices, DVD players, TV sets, and broadcast.

Each format (either NTSC and PAL) follows a standard of technical rules to ensure quality and compatibility of broadcast. The guidelines include specifications for:
  • color
  • refresh rate
  • resolution
  • (and more)
Different countries use different formats. For instance, in the United States and Japan, NTSC is the standard format for analog video, whereas in the United Kingdom and Brazil, PAL is the standard. (Speaking of which, there is also a third standard known as SECAM, which originated in France and was mostly used in France and its colonies.)

NTSC vs PAL: Specifications


Analog video signal type around the world.

NTSC stands for Nation Television System Committee. The NTSC video signal refreshes at a rate of 30 frames per second. Each frame is made of 525 individual lines.
PAL is short for Phase Alternating Line. It is the video signal used in most countries broadcasting at 625-line / 50 field (25 frame) per second (576i)
The difference between one system and the other are almost negligible. No system is better than the other. These specification simply exist for the practical purpose of guiding manufactures into making products that work together.
Due to the new, superior digital format, ATSC, these old specifications and names are increasingly more obsolete, gradually fading from mainstream memory. Oh, well. Onward!