Classically, TV reception works via cable, satellite dish or antenna. However, there have long been services that offer live TV over the Internet. This has advantages and disadvantages.
The popular belief is that streaming is on the rise, linear television is on the decline. And if you look at the development of the number of users, this conclusion is not far off. So have Netflix , Amazon Prime Video , Disney + , Sky and Co. long since given live TV the fatal blow with their on-demand content? For many, digital television is now an alternative.
Who still watches linear television these days?
“Linear TV still has its justification and continues to be used heavily because many viewers want to be kept up-to-date and up to date, especially in times of pandemic,” says Christian Bernat from the specialist magazine “Satvision”. In addition, the fixed program structure is apparently also an important orientation for many viewers. That would show, among other things, the still high TV ratings for programs such as “Tatort” on Sunday evening. Live TV is also indispensable for large events such as sporting events.
Access to linear television has even become more diverse. Because in addition to cable, satellite and antenna, TV signals can also be received via the Internet. “The signal comes into the house either through a broadband connection or via the cellular network,” explains Markus Weidner from the telecommunications portal Teltarif.
Internet with many options for television
The big advantage: “The TV images can be received almost anywhere where there is an internet connection, either via smartphone, tablet, computer or of course via a smart television,” explains Weidner. In addition to apps, you sometimes also need special boxes that are connected to the TV set.
But who distributes linear television over the Internet? “Waipu, Zattoo, Joyn , Magenta-TV (Telekom) and Giga-TV (Vodafone) are certainly the largest providers, and there are also a few niche providers on the market,” says Bernat. “Almost all providers have free versions of their services, which can usually be used to receive the public broadcasters as well as some private ones.”
But you may have to live with commercials. There are also compromises in terms of resolution: “In the free versions, the channels are only available in the SD version. Especially those who see the picture on a large television have to live with quality losses, ”says Bernat. The HD variants are always subject to a surcharge. And the full selection of channels is only available for money.
Delay in live TV on the Internet
Sometimes there are delays when streaming the television program due to loading times. This can be problematic: “The image can lag behind other reception paths for up to a minute, which is particularly critical for sports broadcasts. If the neighbor is already cheering, you can only just see the free-kick whistle, ”explains Bernat.
Services for Internet TV (IP TV) can only be compared to a limited extent, since the requirements and offers are usually too different. Zattoo and Waipu have well over 100 channels in their portfolio. This also applies to Magenta TV (Telekom) and Giga TV (Vodafone), which also offer a lot of streaming content on demand. IP TV can often only be booked if you also have an Internet contract with the IP TV provider, for example with 1 & 1 TV or O2 TV.
Aside from the limited free versions, the offers start at around six to seven euros per month. There are also differences in the convenience functions, such as time-shifted television or the possibility of several simultaneous streams. “With the classic TV providers, content can be saved locally. However, this is not possible with Internet TV providers, since everything stays in the cloud and is gone after the subscription is canceled, for example, ”says Bernat.
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Digital television is also a matter of money
When it comes to the cheapest way to get live TV programs, streaming TV providers cannot (yet) keep up. Especially when it comes to watching private programs in addition to public broadcasters. “Without additional running costs, this is actually only possible via satellite dish – but only in standard resolution,” explains Weidner. This is mainly due to the fact that the private broadcasters have now set up their own digital programs. ARD, ZDF and Co., on the other hand, can also be watched for free in the live stream.
The cheapest way to get away is therefore with traditional television. All you have to do is invest once in a satellite dish and a receiver (DVB-S) if this is missing on the television. Digital aerial television (DVB-T) is only available free of charge under public law, but also in HD. Here, too, the receiver is usually built into the TV, often only an indoor antenna is missing.
In addition, there is only the option of accessing the live streams or media libraries of the individual stations in the network or in apps at no cost. “It’s completely free, but also very uncomfortable,” says Weidner. “Because then you would have to create bookmarks for each station and you couldn’t just zap between the channels with the remote control.”