Let's keep to one subject at time - and stay with the video card specifically for now. The other issues and questions about what distro to use, which desktop environment, what media player, you can sort out later and they should have no bearing on getting your outputs to simply work.
Please read this README which also comes packaged inside the compressed driver archive you downloaded from nVidia:
That should show clearly how to use the TV-Out setting in your xorg.conf file. IF your distro is new enough, it may not even have this config file by default, and if that's the case, your distro should have a command to generate the file. This file lives at /etc/X11/xorg.conf
As for the "nvidia control panel", you must be referring to "nvidia settings". It has command line options, a man page, and depending on your distro, it will also have a menu button in your start menu for starting the application from the desktop.
That application, while it does do *some* things automatically, cannot do *everything* automatically. If you need to do manual editing of the xorg.conf file, you can do it via that tool, as long as you run the tool as root.
The tool will apply some settings dynamically, but for others, you need to restart X for the changes to be in effect.
If you have errors or things aren't working right, please post the exact
error messages, and the exact commands you ran to get the errors, so we can maybe see what the problem is.
As a side note to this story: xrandr or "X resize and rotate" is another tool which allows more dynamic reconfiguration of X while it's running, however last I checked and if I remember right, xrandr does not work well or at all with the binary driver from nvidia***
. You might want to investigate this as I haven't checked on it lately. Even still, I don't know if xrandr allows for changing such things as the TV OUT format - I suppose it should, but you'll have to look it up and read about it if interested.
= That might be only in multiple-monitor setups. I just cannot remember.
Best regards, keep us posted.