Internet television

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With Internet TV ( English television Internet , in short, Internet TV or Web TV called) is the transmission of television programs via the Internet called. On-demand offers ( video-on-demand ) are not included, although they are often available on the same platforms.

Technical delimitation

In Internet television, streams are transmitted via the Internet, which is accessible worldwide. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), on the other hand, is only available in closed networks. Internet television therefore lacks in particular the assurance of a technical quality of service , which is guaranteed by the provider in the television or IPTV area. Since Internet television uses the Internet as a transport route and is offered on the World Wide Web, the provider can only guarantee transmission quality based on the " best effort principle".

Due to the different bandwidths of the users, the transmission quality is deliberately beyond the control of the provider. The responsibility for the choice of suitable (compatible) end devices and the choice of suitable Internet access rests with the user. The responsibility for the availability of the corresponding infrastructure lies with the Internet service provider, who forwards the data as " over-the-top content " (without content control) as part of its service description. The Internet television provider is therefore not responsible for the entire transmission route outside of its server infrastructure.

For the transmission of Internet television, a network connection is established from the broadcasting server's streaming server over the Internet to the viewer's receiving device ( unicast ). Entire television programs or just individual video programs (often encrypted with DRM ) are transmitted using Internet protocols (see Streaming Media ).


License restrictions

The selection of offers of a media library depends (in addition to the costs for the technical infrastructure) mainly on third-party licenses that are only purchased for a limited broadcast area and therefore may not be shown worldwide. For example, a feature film may only be broadcast by a broadcaster in the licensed distribution area, which excludes worldwide distribution on the Internet. In contrast, self-produced material is unproblematic.

Some broadcasters (mainly special interest programs , but also some full programs such as ServusTV ) license third-party material worldwide in order to be able to realize a complete live stream. Channels such as B. Phoenix broadcast their own live stream with interruptions depending on the license. Information and regional broadcasters have an advantage here, as the self-made contributions are free of third-party rights and the material supplied consists mainly of advertising or agency contributions, which can usually be distributed worldwide without significant additional costs. The situation is different for music television such as B. YAVIDO , because here the rights to the video clips are billed as a flat rate or according to the number of simultaneous accesses, similar to radio . Some channels such as B. n-tv put a commercial in front of the start of the live stream in order to (at least partially) refinance the additional costs for the infrastructure.

Streaming offers like Zattoo circumvent the licensing problem through geotargeting , i. This means that only Internet connections ( IP addresses ) within a geographically limited target area are served, for which the licenses are available regardless of the technical distribution method. For example, the channels of Swiss television can only be accessed in Switzerland, but the self-produced information program SF info can also be accessed in Germany, with the exception of individual programs that are z. B. remain restricted to Switzerland by sports rights.

Transmission method

The transmission of Internet television is realized via video streams , the basis for this is provided by technologies based on streaming media . For the transmission of Internet television, a network connection is established from the broadcasting server of the broadcaster via the Internet to the receiving device of the viewer. Entire television programs or just individual video programs (often encrypted with DRM) are transmitted using the Internet protocol (video streaming).

Internet television can also be broadcast using a peer-to-peer connection. The data does not come from a central server, but is passed on directly from user to user via a peer-to-peer network.

Receiving devices

The great advantage of Internet television is that it can be received via many end devices. These only need to have an Internet connection and a video-audio output device. The end device receives the data streams, divides them into sub-streams (audio, video, data etc.), decodes them and forwards them to the video-audio output unit.

The following end devices are supported (selection):

  • PC : Usually only a software installation is necessary (e.g. LinuxMCE ). Output to a television is also possible via HDMI cable or WLAN.
  • Smartphones and tablet computers are compatible with Internet TV, but occasionally only via WLAN and not via cellular networks ( 3G / LTE ).
  • Set-top box : For this purpose, the Internet TV set-top box is generally connected to the Internet ( router ) on one side and to the SCART socket or the HDMI input of the television on the other .
  • Game consoles : The signals from the game console are decoded via the Internet connection (WLAN / LAN).
  • Digital signals and other advertising and information display systems. (The return channel is rarely used.)
  • Kiosk systems that display video data.

Fee obligation

At the beginning of October 2012, the German Federal Constitutional Court decided in a landmark ruling that internet-enabled computers are also subject to charges . However, with the introduction of the household-dependent ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio contribution service , these fees are charged regardless of the presence of end devices in a household.

Offers and providers

The variety of offers and the number of providers in the web TV market are constantly increasing. According to Web-TV-Monitor 2010 (a study by Goldmedia on behalf of the Bavarian State Center for New Media ) there were around 1,300 web TV channels in Germany in September 2010. Half of all offers (47 percent) come from traditional media. Around a third of all offers (34%) are web TV stations that were produced exclusively for the Internet - so-called Internet-only channels. The web TV market also includes corporate TV, video shopping portals, non-commercial web TV stations, media libraries and video centers, video sharing platforms and communication portals.

According to Web-TV-Monitor 2010, around 150 million videos were viewed daily on the mostly free portals (96%) in 2010, most of them from video sharing portals such as YouTube.

In 2012 the number of web TV channels rose to 1,424. 45 of these are providers under public law (3%). 86% of the requests came from Germany, 14% from abroad. 23% of all web TV views were made via mobile (18%) or via devices connected to the TV set (5%).

Internet TV and IPTV relevant market figures: see IP TV, section Some IPTV relevant market figures

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Karlsruhe - Internet-capable PCs are subject to the GEZ., October 2, 2012
  2. What is the web TV monitor. Goldmedia blog
  3. BLM Goldmedia Study Web TV Monitor 2010
  4. Klaus Goldhammer u. a .: Web TV Monitor 2010. Goldmedia GmbH (Presentation: Long version online at, p. 4) - accessed on November 15, 2013
  5. Internet television in figures.Retrieved on February 11, 2014.